As I finally got a chance to catch Games 2, 3,of this new NBA season for the completely revamped and insanely talented team at least on paper, there were a couple of things that jumped out at me. Most hoop fans are probably well aware of these, but I’d like to hammer these out in any case.
Despite the overwhelmingly negative responses and reactions from Laker fans regarding the efforts of their beloved team, I stay optimistic in the face of hostile opposition. Mark Cuban recently was quoted as saying that he didn’t give a damn about the Lakers, only hoping that they would “suck”. While on the surface many fans would agree that the Lakers are fulfilling the wishes of the outspoken Dallas owner, I can wholeheartedly assure you that in the near future the entire league will be wary of tangoing with the LakeShow once the gears are properly set in motion.
Some of the positive things that I saw in the constant struggle to perfect this high RPM capable beast of an engine:
Dwight Howard looks impressive despite the fact that he is clearly not 100% yet. As a big man who has only played a mere 8 games in the last several months, it’s obviously impossible for him to be in tip-top shape. However, his performance has been encouraging as evidenced by his monster 33 point 14 board stat line. Even more impressive was his sudden free throw proficiency as he went on to sink 15 out of 19 free throws.
The Mamba still has it as well, hitting 21 of his 34 attempts over the first two games. Now that’s efficiency. I worried about his injury hampering his percentages, but clearly they aren’t holding him back much if at all. I like that he is trying to get Dwight some touches as well.
Gasol got off to a strong start in the first game, posting a dominant 23-16-6-3 stat line. I love those numbers, especially since I own him on my fantasy squad as well. The Spaniard looks to be in a great position to reaffirm his status as the NBA’s elite power forward.
On to the not so great news…
The bench is still extremely deficient to say the least. No one expects Antawn Jamison to match his 6th man of the year numbers, but what he has been putting up so far has been absolutely unacceptable. Granted, the bench, much like the starters are still attempting to get into a relative groove and once they have that epiphany, I expect things to pick up dramatically.
What’s equally concerning is the fact that the defense just isn’t there. Fast breaks have been absolutely atrocious on both ends, with players unable to complete plays or make the proper pass. Likewise, the team is turning over the ball excessively and giving up a lot of transition points due to their inability to get back and protect the rim.
I fully expect the Lakers to recover some of their mojo against an inferior Detroit team on Sunday. If the team somehow manages to drop this gimme, I would start to become very concerned. As the Lakers face the Pistons, Jazz, Warrior, and Kings before facing a legitimate challenger in the Spurs, this should give the team the chance to get their system in gear. Laker fans everywhere will be extremely disappointed if we can’t dominate against the likes of the lower tier teams, but I’m confident a few wins and good spirits will help revitalize the sputtering engine into a well-oiled beast. Looking forward to sharing thoughts after a Detroit win.