No, this is not a typo. I am actually, genuinely, truly excited to see the Los Angeles Lakers compete in 2014-2015. Not because I think that this team will differentiate itself from last season by fielding real NBA players or escaping from the “worst season in Los Angeles” distinction. Not even because this will be one of the last opportunities to see Kobe Bryant play. Simply because this is going to be another trainwreck and I am not ready to look away.
Last year’s Lakers were an abomination defensively. By Hollinger’s efficiency metric they ranked 28th in the league, “bested” by only Milwaukee and Utah. By simpler measures to understand they were 26th in opponents FG% and a lovely 29th in opponents points scored, this time outdone by Philadelphia. This team was essentially the equivalent of starting 5 James Hardens, except for the fact that it fell outside of the top 10 in scoring.
The solution? A free-agent extravaganza where, after failing to elicit much interest from Lebron James or Carmelo Anthony, the team “splurged” on names, such as Jeremy Lin (Linsanity!) and Carlos Boozer. Wait. You mean bringing in two players who were demoted from starters to bench players (and really just non-players at all in Boozer’s case) because of their failure to play defense will improve the Laker’s cellar-dwelling D? Not only that, but the team compounded this mistake by bringing in a defensive-minded coach in Byron Scott instead of someone who might play to the Laker’s strength in just simply trying to outscore their opponents.
This team also lost its lone bright spots last year with Pau Gasol going to Chicago and D-League graduate and assist machine Kendall Marshall leaving the bright lights of the Staples Center for… Milwaukee (?) Uggggh. Its a shame that Mitch Kupchak had to get Ed Davis from the Raptors because other than that, this is a nightmare offseason with no real redeeming point. Oh, but he also drafted Julius Randle, meaning Davis will see little time at the power forward spot. Good, good Mitch.
Look I’m not watching this team cus I’m rooting for them or because I think they are going to turn into an offensive juggernaut that doesn’t need to worry about defense like their in-house rivals. I’m watching for the trainwreck! I’m watching for when Kobe starts screaming at Lin during a timeout or when the Lakers realize their plans actually completely suck and they blow up the team midseason, Kobe be damned. I’m watching for the fact that Nick Young has actually forced this year’s rookies to call him “Daddy Swag”, in a hazing ritual that seems far crueler than anything done in your neighborhood frat house.
And lastly, yes, I am watching for Kobe. The legendary status this guy has doesn’t even need to be mentioned, but I will say that he is a mere 592 points away from taking Jordan’s spot as the #3 scorer in the history of the League. At 20 ppg, he hits that mark 30 games into the season. And, if this team is what I hope it is, Kobe hits it 15 in, ignoring his awful teammates and their awful record and putting up 35 shots a game.
X- Factor= Kobe Bryant
Yup, said it before. How much does this guy have left? This guy only played 6 games last year, but the year before he looked incredible, seemingly deciding each night whether to be the scorer or the set-up man and going for 30 points or 10 assists. Like any other true scorer, Kobe will binge on a crap team and should have a lot of huge scoring outbursts over the course of the season.