Monday, November 21, 2005

Lakers: 10 Games In

For the first time I can remember, the Clippers are clearly the best basketball team in LA. They have many excellent players: Sam Cassell, Corey Maggette, Elton Brand, Cuttino Mobley. Shut down one and you still have your hands full.

The Lakers, on the other hand, have the greatest player in the game today, Kobe Bryant, and Lamar Odom, who is supposed to be great, although I haven't seen a whole lot of greatness from him. And then they have a bunch of role players and question marks. Some of the question marks might develop to the level of the Clippers' quartet, but they have yet to prove themselves.

The mantra going into this season was "Fix the defense and the offense will take care of itself." Well, after 10 games I'm seeing some big offensive problems. Instead of the triangle offense, they're playing the famous "Stand around and watch Kobe" offense.

"Stand around and watch Kobe" is not much of an offense. It's really easy to defend: double- or triple-team Kobe and make the other guys beat you. This is the offense the Lakers ran last year; they didn't make the playoffs with it. The 4-6 Lakers could be 7-3 right now if their offense hadn't broken down so much.

The 2005-2006 Lakers are a young team, the third youngest in the NBA. They have young legs. They should be running older teams into the ground. Run and gun. They need a point guard with the mentality of Steve Nash or Magic Johnson. Showtime, baby.

Instead, Phil Jackson is trying to force this young team into the triangle offense. The triangle, if I understand it, is not about running; it's about finding a spot on the floor and passing to the open man. So far in the season this team either does not understand or does not believe in the triangle. Maybe they'll get the hang of it. Or maybe Phil will junk it and go with something simpler. Apparently, the the triangle is hard for some players to understand. Gary Payton never did get it.

Phil Jackson might be the greatest coach of all time. He might face the biggest challenge of his career with this young team. It makes good drama. Always drama with the Lakers. Hey, it's Hollywood. What do you expect?

There's probably a lot going on with the Lakers that I don't understand or know about. This fan has spoken.

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