Sunday, June 10, 2012

Chain of Thoughts on the Lakers Before the Finals Begin

  • It's going to be an exciting Finals with the Thunder and Heat.  But I'm going to rant about the Lakers.
  • The last time I wrote about the Lakers on a June, a championship was won (sigh).  For the second straight year, the Los Angeles Lakers failed.  For Lakerdom  – this may sound harsh but it’s the truth – anything short of a championship is a failed season.  Winning spoiled us.  No Laker championship as a birthday gift to me like before.
  • It always stings whenever my Lakers lose in the playoffs.  I sincerely believe the Lakers were capable of pulling a dramatic underdog storybook  finish this season.  They just needed to play with a “never say die” attitude – to play with grit and heart – every second of each game.   Because if they don’t play that way, they would be overwhelmed by the youthful talent of the Oklahoma Thunder.  Well, it’s up to you to decide if the Lakers did play with heart (for me, they didn’t), but one thing is for sure, the Thunder triumphed.  
  • Indeed, Kobe is within the twilight of his playing career, but signs of him slowing down were very minimal, if there’s any.  He remains a dangerous scorer, thanks to his brilliant post up skill, beautiful fadeaway (even adding a Dirk Nowitzki in it), and, most importantly, amazing footwork.  Great thanks to an innovative surgery in Germany during the offseason, Kobe was again able to drive aplenty to the basket, drawing many fouls and earning many trips to the line.  However, he shot only 43% from the field.  This is due to Kobe’s usual knack of taking bad shots.  The fault is not solely on Kobe’s stubbornness but also because Mike Brown still hasn’t figured out an effective Laker offense (or if he had, he wasn’t able to infuse it on the team ).  Thus, there was a large amount of Kobe isolations and bad shots.  There were multiple times when the Lakers’ set can’t create a good shot for anyone, then the team throws the ball to Kobe in the last seconds, forcing him to take a bad shot.
  • Really frustrated with Mike Brown’s first year as a coach.  To be fair, I did find positive things about him, but unless he leads this team to a championship, I would always think he was a bad hire.  Again, Laker fans are harsh and spoiled.
  • I was hoping Kobe would duplicate his achievement during the 2002-2003 campaign.  At one time during that season, if I get it right, Kobe was just shooting 29% from behind the arc (he would end the season with a 32.7% clip), and then he made the record of 12 three-pointers in a game, 9 of which are consecutive.  I was hoping he would break his record and go for 13 – with 10 consecutive – during a game this season.  It would be nice if Kobe returns to such level of three point shooting in which he was even being invited to participate in the three point shootout (it was during the 2008 All-Star Weekend, but due to injury, he wasn’t able to join.  Nowitzki replaced Kobe in the contest).
  • The next skill set I want Kobe to add to his arsenal is to become brilliant in moving without the ball and getting off a shot quickly like Reggie Miller.  This will help him be free of double teams.  A mix of his usual “scoring from the post with stepback jumpers or turnaround fadeways off amazing footwork” with “moving without the ball, losing defenders through screens, and then catch-and-shoot with lightning release” in his game would be deliciously lethal as he alternates between the two styles.  But to allow him to move comfortably without the ball, there is a need for a great point guard.
  • I was hoping Ramon Sessions would be the Laker version of Linsanity.  Hmmm.  Still hoping.  Or Lakers should just pursue Deron Williams.  Or – by fat chance – Mr. Linsanity himself!  (In an essay before, I already explained why Jeremy Lin is awesome.)
  • Kobe should at least give coaching a try when he retires from playing.  He looks good at the sidelines.
  • I believe that Kobe will win at least two more rings before he retires.
  • Once Kobe wins another ring, he would accomplish something that Michael Jordan wasn’t able to do in his career: win a ring without Phil Jackson.  Man, I miss Phil. 
  • If Derek Fisher wins his 6th ring with the Thunder, Kobe Haters will say – since the ridiculous “Kobe can’t win without Shaq” has been made obsolete already – that Kobe can’t win without Fish.  LOL.  Still, I root for the Thunder in this year’s Finals, obviously, since the opponent is the – ugh – Heat.
  • It’s very unlikely for Pau Gasol remaining a Laker.  I like Pau.  One of the best Lakers ever.  I was against trading him at the start and during the season.  I was one of the few who were glad the trade for Chris Paul did not come through.  Pau failed greatly when the Mavs swept the Lakers last year.  But I believed Pau would bounce back, he just needed a chance.    However, during the season, Pau was demoted to being third option with Bynum’s dominance emerging.  Pau still had his moments, but getting bothered by getting traded made Pau inconsistent.  And even though Pau was relieved remaining a Laker after the trade deadline passed, he didn’t have a dramatic comeback at all.  I thought that maybe Pau didn’t get into his groove because with Bynum occupying and dominating the middle, he has not much room to work on his graceful, finesse post game.  But whenever there’s a line-up where Kobe and Bynum is on the bench, leaving Pau as first option, he failed to flourish.  Pau remains a brilliant big man passer but he’s never an aggressive or consisted scorer.  That’s why though Pau remains a good player, he, in my eyes as well as others’, failed to redeem himself from last season’s meltdown against the Mavs.  Don’t want him to be traded, but our two seven footer frontcourt doesn’t work anymore.  More importantly, Pau is too expensive to keep.  Goodbye, Pau.  Lakerdom is forever grateful for the past seasons, but now, it’s time to move on. 
  • Pretty interesting what can be brought by trading Pau.  The scenario that appeals to me most is where Andre Iguodala is brought to the Lakers!
  • I didn’t like the Odom trade to Dallas.  If Odom was to be traded, they should have gone for Andre Iguodala.  Still, that MPE from the Odom trade is available.  Very intriguing how Lakers’ front office will use it to improve the team. 
  • Andrew Bynum for Dwight Howard?  I’m apathetic with this one.   The pros and cons on both are almost balanced.  Both have attitude problems.  Bynum is better on offense, while Howard has more impact on defense.  Any of the two would do for me as the Lakers’ starting center for next season’s campaign.  Won’t be disappointed if a trade would or wouldn’t happen.   
  • Hopefully, next June, the Lakers will be back in the Finals... and win the championship!        

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