Lakers Problems Mounting – More Than Just Injuries

As most NBA teams are rounding into shape, with coaches developing rotations, rookies showing whether or not they can play against professional competition, and with fringe players winning or losing roster spots, the Lakers are failing in every aspect of preparation, and it falls clearly at the feet of the new coach, Byron Scott, and the people who assembled the team’s woefully sub-par roster.

After a season where the team’s hopes were dashed by an unprecedented rash of injuries, one would think that management would put together for the next season a roster deep in experience, potential, and talent. Instead, they allowed many of last year’s key players and those with the best potential upside to leave, such as Jodie Meeks, Chris Kaman, Jordan Farmar, Kent Bazemore, Kendall Marshall, MarShon Brooks, and of course, Pau Gasol.

They brought in for the coming season a total of three talented new players, two of whom, Carlos Boozer and Ed Davis, play the same power forward position, and one point guard, Jeremy Lin. As the team is still saddled with the presence of Steve Nash, who in theory only is a member of the rotation, other than at power forward, the team has few NBA caliber players, and Scott will have difficulty filling out a full rosters, especially to start the season while dealing with, again,
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numerous injuries.

The Lakers have two highly touted rookies upon whose shoulders the team and the pundits lavished off-season praise, but as the preseason winds down, racing towards the first real game in less than two weeks, there is no way they will be able to count on either Julius Randle or Jordan Clarkson.

In just a few games, Randle has incurred the ire of coach Scott, combining his immaturity and total lack of experience with what Scot has deemed a very visible lack of effort. After benching Randle for last night’s second half in yet another blowout loss, this time to Utah, Scott was quoted referring to Randle’s effort by saying “I still don’t think the last couple of games that he’s played as hard as he can play.”

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Clarkson, before his current injury, showed talent, but also that he is far from mature or experienced enough to be a contributor as a regular member of the thin and fragile point guard rotation. So, with Nash being 41-year-old-Nash, and unable to play more than a dozen minutes per week, if that, and with both Lin and Clarkson injured, the
bulk of the exhibition game minutes have gone to the embarrassingly bad Ronnie Price, who in nine NBA seasons has proven he is no better that the mop-up guy who plays the last five minutes of a blow-out loss.

At the shooting guard spot, Kobe Bryant is in the process of dispelling all worries about his recovery from the two serious injuries of the past year, and is playing amazingly well. Unfortunately, there is not another single player on the current Lakers’ squad about which that can be said. With Xavier Henry injured and yet to appear on the court, the backup role to Kobe has been taken by Wayne Ellington, and he is regressing at a furious rate. After shooting a barely acceptable 43% over his first three games, Ellington was a sterling zero-for-eight last night, and with his oh-for two outside the arc, he is now one-of-ten on three point attempts for the season.

Most of the same problems exist at the small forward spot, where the overrated, overpaid, no-pass, no-defend ex trojan scum nick young figures to eventually get the bulk of the playing time. But for now, the spot has belonged to Wesley Johnson, and seemingly it will be his for at least four to six weeks into the regular season until young is able to "play". Johnson, who average 9.1 points per game while playing 28 minutes per game last season, has fallen to 5.0
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points in similar minutes. His rebounds per game have similarly fallen from 4.4 to 1.5.

And of course, there is the ongoing problem of the total lack of any semblance of team defense, now led by the defensive failings of Carlos Boozer, Randle, and all of the bodies filling the point guard spot. Over the last three games, the Lakers have given up 118 points per game, losing by an average margin of 30 points per game. Last seasons’ horrible team, the second worst in the NBA as to points allowed, gave up only 109 per game, and the margin of loss was only 6.2 points per game.

Like I said during the off season when this squad was being formed, the 2014-15 Lakers are a far worse team, even with the return of Kobe, than last year’s team.

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