Monday, 19 November 2012

The Lake Show isn't over yet!

We all know The Lakers have been struggling so far this season, however they've actually been playing better than many people predicted.
Adding two new pieces to a starting rotation isn't easy.  Adding two new players in the starting rotation at the point guard and center isn't easy.  Adding two new player in the starting rotation at the point guard and center position named Steve Nash and Dwight Howard is NOT easy!

Howard was recovering from back surgery, Kobe wasn't 100% fit for the start of the season and Nash was injured early on.  Taking that into consideration I would deem their .500 start (10 games as of Monday 19th November) quite good.

In addition, there are many promising signs.  It's no secret that teams often defend Kobe Bryant with multiple players but a few things have caught my attention over the last few Laker games.

Against the Suns there was one play in-particular which caught my eye; an alley-oop to Howard.  If you watch the play carefully you can see that Kobe has 3 player defending him as he comes off of the pick and roll with Gasol. 

Kobe being guarded / circled by 3 players as he comes off the pick and roll!
Additionally Scola sags off of the pick and roll to cover Howard to prevent a pass into the post (this consequently allowed Bryant to come off the screen un-guarded).  The interesting thing about this is what motivated the defence to act in such a way, and the answer is fear! 

With Kobe, Gasol and Howard on the floor, teams are often confused as when to double team and help out on defence.  As one commentator said when talking about the 2008 Boston Celtics "it's impossible to double team 3 players."  This is also true for the Lakers! (soon to be 4 players when Nash returns)

Another positive sign is Kobe's triple double in Sunday night's game against the rockets.  In Kobe's 16 year career he has 'only' managed to rack up 18 triple doubles.  I say only because many people (including myself) feel that for a player of his quality, combined with the players which he has been fortunate to play with over his career *cough* Shaq, Bynum, Gasol *cough*, this number should be a lot higher!  Anyway, back to the point, Kobe dropped a triple double which shows he is PASSING THE BALL!  Why is he passing the ball? Because Howard and Gasol are wide open, literally WIDE open!

List of the all time triple double leaders, taken from Wikipedia

Now some fans may be screaming "well why didn't he do this when Shaq was in town?"  Kobe has matured a lot since the 2004 finals (which many blame the loss on Bryant for not passing enough) and I think he realises that time is ticking away and that this may be his last / only chance to win that 6th championship (all hail the Michael Jordan comparisons…maybe I should start writing that blogpost now!)

But the point remains, the Lakers are improving greatly.  Oh, and by the way all of this is happening while they assign a new head-coach in the form of Mike Antoni (he doesn't coach D so I refuse to put it in his name).  Come playoff time the Lakers, if healthy, are going to be a force, but then I suppose you knew that all along!

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