Hey gang, just want to open up with a quick Happy New year shout out to all of you out there. To those of you waking up with a hangover from hell from last night’s festivities and wishing the world would end, relax. The Mayans were wrong and there is a lot of NBA action to look forward to, not to mention whatever 2013 has in store for us. Before I start jotting down my thoughts regarding the recent performances of the Lakers, I would like to be the first to admit that I’m eating crow. Seriously.
If anyone had told me the Clippers would be sporting the best record in the NBA at 25-6 in the midst of an incredible 17 game win streak, I would have laughed in their face. I think a lot of people are standing in the dumbfounded line along with me with our jaws dropping to the floor. Who would have thought the words fun and 17 game win streak would be associated with the Clippers, but wow they have an incredible team. There are a lot of Laker fans who enjoyed bashing the Clippers when they were down, and now that they’ve taken the NBA by storm express nothing but jealousy at the newly invigorated cross town rivals. I’m not a hater, I give them a lot of credit. They are an incredibly entertaining team to watch with their team first mentality and high fliers in Jordan and Griffon, not to mention a seriously deep bench that could conceivably compete with some starting lineups.
The Lakers have gone 6-2 since my last post, and currently sit 3rd in the Pacific and 10th overall in the Western Conference. It goes without saying that it really pains me to write that down, as this is some seriously uncharted territory for a franchise that is always held to the highest standards. The grim prospects aside, let’s look at the brighter side of things seeing as how it’s a brand new year. It was extremely heartening to see Nash and Gasol finally make their long awaited return to the court. The duo appear as though they haven’t missed a step, with Nash averaging about 12 points and 9 assists in his four games back. Gasol has come back strong as well, posting up averages of 13 points, 8 rebounds, and an impressive 5 assists over the last five games. It’s interesting to note that he also hit 5 three’s, and it’s clear that D’Antoni has assigned more perimeter tasks for the Spaniard. It was great to see him playing in post as well, highlighted by a move where he made the defending Blazer look like a high school player.
It’s great to see Hill getting more run as well, and it seems like his infinite hustle and hard work has forced D’Antoni to find a role for the former Wildcat. In the Denver game, Hill put up 9 and 9 in a mere 13 minutes. To simplify, this guy is a walking double-double just chomping at the bit. On the flip side, I really feel for Antawn Jamison who hasn’t suited up in the last 5 games. His defensive deficiency has been well documented, but his offense will go a long way in sparking the often lackluster bench. Dwight also looks to be rounding into form, and I have to say I’m sick of people saying Dwight should be doing more, etc. He’s still not 100% people, but he’s still putting up 18, 12, and over two blocks a game. Once he regains his Superman condition and the team finally achieves some stability on the defensive end, this team will really begin their march towards the postseason.
As we are nearing the half way mark, this Laker team really needs to kick it in gear and get prepared for an extended run towards Kobe’s 6th. Speaking of Kobe, I can’t help but think how our team would be if the CP3 trade wasn’t vetoed. Just look at how he has completely transformed the Clippers into a legit contender. How would the current Lakers look if we switched CPE and the league’s current scoring king? Keep in mind, I’m not saying we should trade Kobe or anything like that. It’s just intriguing to think how the Lake Show would run under the helm of a ball dominating point guard as opposed to shooting guard, as a poster mused on a Laker forum I was browsing earlier. It’s amazing to see what Kobe is still capable of at his age, but there are times where his hero ball absolutely sickens me. I think Nash will be the key, as his veteran leadership and considerable skills can help regulate Kobe’s often lone wolf ways that ends up being detrimental to the team cause. It’ll be interesting to see how the Lakers come together before the All Star break, and hopefully they can climb up the ranks, as the #10 seed in the Western Conference is absolutely unacceptable for a team of this caliber and lofty expectations.