Little Optimism After Laker’s First Two Exhibition Games

As the start of the NBA season nears, the Lakers have now played two exhibition games, beating Denver on Tuesday, and losing last night to the Golden State Warriors. Though it is early, there are several observations about the team than can be made, some good, most not so good.

Looking at their overall play and the talent that has been on the court, though some of the people occupying space in Lakers’ uniforms will never, ever see a real, regular season NBA game, it is pretty bad. New coach Byron Scott, the wrong guy for the job as I have frequently said, and who will never produce a championship team with the Lakers (maybe never even a .500 team), has chosen to give playing time to the likes of Ronnie Price, Roscoe Smith, and Jeremy Tyler. Seriously? Granted, the team ALREADY has several

injuries, with key guys like Xavier Henry and Ryan Kelly out, plus that worthless piece of ex trojan crap nick young, who will eventually take up valuable minutes that someone who can pass and play defense could make significantly better use of, but shouldn't those limited minutes be going to guys who will be counted on and who need the experience now? In Thursday's game, Robert Sacre played 12 minutes, and rookie draft choices Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson
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played 18 and 13 minutes respectively.

While the best Lakers’ news has been the appearance of Kobe Bryant, who looks to all the world to have recovered from his two serious injuries, and who looks ready and able to pick up where he left off in April of 2013 when he torn his Achilles tendon, the worst news is the fact that in light of renewed emphasis on defense by Scott, as a team the Lakers still cannot and does not play defense. Maybe in the first two exhibitions the team has been an iota better defensively that last season, but not enough to look like it will make any difference. And that is without young on the court, who assures the opposition of one shooter getting unlimited free shots for as long as he is in the game.

With Henry and the likes of young also unable to play, former Timberwolves’ number one draft pick Wayne Ellington is getting a lot of minutes at shooting guard, but in the two games has made only seven of 19 shots, and is one of six on three pointers. New guy Carlos Boozer has played well, but he is merely this year’s Pau Gasol, only making up for that loss

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and adding nothing additional to the mix. What is most scary is the fact that it looks like Scott will be relying on Steve Nash to actually play. Bad mistake. As good as he may have looked in the first game, his sitting out the second game will be the best pattern the team can hope for. But, realistically, Nash, in the best of scenarios, figures to play in at most 30 games, and that in-and-out disruption will again be a significant detriment to the team.

There are basketball experts on the LA airwaves and in print that are saying this Lakers’ team could win 48 or more games this season, despite the Vegas line being something like 31. As I said after the team’s offseason moves, this team will be worse than last year’s even with a seemingly healthy Kobe. 31 sounds about right.

Finally, former UCLA Bruin star Jason Kapono, attempting a comeback with Golden State, played ten minutes against the Lakers, and put in seven points, hitting on two of three from the field, one a three-pointer, and two of two from the line. A nine-year NBA veteran, Kapono last played in the NBA, though very sparingly, for the Lakers during the 2011-2012 season.

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