Who is at fault for this version of the S**t Time Lakers?
Brandon Ingram is playing like an All-Star. His numbers since LeBron went down are better than that of a former Laker no.2 pick who recently made the All-Star team. Ingram is scoring above 20 points per game, while still being only 21, with an eFG% close to 60%. He is averaging close to 7 rebounds and 4.5 assists to go with that.
Kyle Kuzma has figured out his role. He is shooting well. Knows he is not going to be Kobe on defense, so he isn’t trying to be that anymore. And he has learnt to pick his spots to show up on offense and score an efficient 18 points per game on a nightly basis.
LeBron James is averaging close to a 25-10-10 triple double over the recent stretch. That’s what you expect from him and he’s doing it on the floor on a nightly basis.
Here's a question no one is asking…
— Justin M (@jtmac21) February 26, 2019
— Sean Lo (@SeanLo730) February 26, 2019
So what the hell is wrong with the Los Angeles Lakers? Over the past month they have lost games to Minnesota Timberwolves, Indiana Pacers, Atlanta Hawks, New Orleans Pelicans and now the Memphis Grizzlies.
None of these games should’ve been lost. The Pacers are a really good team. But Lakers have LeBron James. And Indiana didn’t have Victor Oladipo. Even the Pelicans loss came without Anthony Davis in the game for the Pels. The others are not even worth mentioning.
Not because they aren’t good teams. But they are all teams with no playoff chances this season, so effectively they should be teams that Lakers, given their target of making the playoffs, should see as the easier opponents.
But game after game, Lakers cant seem to do the simple things of basketball and keep losing games that they should be winning. Who is at fault? Well glad you asked. Here are all the people at fault for this shit storm that has been the Lakers season –
1) Magic Johnson-
Magic Johnson the player was unparalleled. He is the single greatest point guard of all time and the fact that, this holds true till today, in the era of the point guards, is remarkable.
But Magic Johnson the Coach and Magic Johnson the Team President are nowhere close to being what the player was. Johnson landed LeBron James. That’s great. But as per most sources, it only needed the Lakers to not mess up for James to come, as he was quite set on moving to Los Angeles.
Magic Johnson is clueless as a president of basketball operations lmao #Lakeshow
— BringJimBussBack (@BringBuss) February 26, 2019
Clearing cap space was a good move, the way he ended things with D’Angelo wasn’t. Magic is too brash in his approach. That was good on court. But off court the mannerisms have to change.
Paul George not giving Lakers a meeting is not Magic’s fault. But speaking often about George, on various public forums that led Lakers to believe they were certainly going to get George is squarely Magic’s fault.
That along with how he has handled the coaching scenario, flip flopping between backing and undermining Luke Walton and the entire Anthony Davis fiasco point to a very shaky season for Magic.
2) Rob Pelinka
It is literally the worst kept secret in the NBA that LeBron plays his best when he plays with shooters all around him. He draws so much attention driving to the basket and has such great court vision that put good shooters around him and he will find one open on most of the possessions.
Also, he isn’t 28 anymore. He takes enough beating on the offensive end. So playing him with plus defenders is also quite logical. 3&D players. Not that hard. So what does the Lakers GM do after landing LeBron? He signs all the free agents in the market that can’t shoot or defend.
I hate Rob Pelinka. Why am I a Lakers fan?
— Javi Salome (@RepTARDIS) February 26, 2019
At 34 years old, Pelinka and Magic came up with a hair brained scheme, to teach LeBron a real way to play basketball. A man who had gone to 8 straight NBA finals. The Lakers young core already has the secondary play making that Lakers were looking to add when they threw all that money at the Stephenson and Rondo deals.
No matter how many ball handlers you put on the floor, LeBron isn’t going to stand in the corner for 24 seconds of the shot clock waiting for someone to find him. Maybe he reduces his possessions handling the ball by 25% but that is what you have Ingram and Lonzo Ball for!
The Rondo and Stephenson deals are extremely stupid and it is blowing up in the face of Pelinka and Magic now.
Chasing McGee at the cost of sweet shooting Brook Lopez (who was also having a great year on the interior defensive end) who wanted to stay with the Lakers and took the minimum to play in Milwaukee as a criminally underpaid stretch big. None of this makes any sense.
It was to remove this senselessness that Jeanie Buss sacked long term GM Mitch Kupchak and her brother and team president Jim Buss. This seems like more of the same.
3) Jeanie Buss
Yes, even Jeanie Buss doesn’t get to go scot free here. While she was right in getting rid of the previous incompetent regime in the Lakers front office, she hasn’t replaced them with the best options.
It is a bit harsh to judge the front office that landed LeBron James, but wasting one whole year of prime LeBron gets you harshly judged. And when you fail this miserably in creating a roster, there is no excuse. Jeanie’s hiring of Magic was looked at positively around the league.
But Magic hasn’t proven he deserves the support he got when he got the team president role and until he does prove it, this seasons record is the only one that any judgement can be passed on.
Her second biggest fault was in the dealing of Lakers head coach position. It was pretty clear Magic and Pelinka did not want Luke Walton as he was a hire made by the previous regime.
But Jeanie expressed her view that constant coaching changes by the Jim Buss front office is what had lead to the repeated failure for the Lakers and she liked Walton for his Lakers pedigree so she wanted the FO to provide a good reason to fire Walton and publicly backed Walton.
Well this season of terrible performances should be proof she wanted. Unfortunately it also means one season wasted completely.
4) Luke Walton
Luke Walton is a terrible offensive coach. He runs plays right out of a high school playbook. And not even a good high school’s playbook. If you think this is an exaggeration, it is not.
Check out this article on the bball index, that dives deep into stats to show just how far Walton lacks across all spectrums of what a coach is supposed to do – https://www.bball-index.com/luke-walton-lame-duck/
Walton’s offense doesn’t need statistics to prove its ineffectiveness. His offense looks terribly stagnant. Theres one high screen at best per possession. Which if counteracted, has no back up and automatically leads to iso-ball.
This is also due to the bad habits young Lakers have formed playing under him at the start of their careers. Walton is the first thing that needs to go from the Lakers if they want to look like an NBA team.
5) LeBron James
LeBron James is a phenomenal talent and he knows it. He has known it since before he joined NBA. That has made him command more power than any other player in the league history.
While there is no problem with more power to players, LeBron’s habits of playing GM have contributed massively to the mess that is the Lakers team right now. The entire Anthony Davis deal cant be tied directly to LeBron.
But Rich Paul and Magic handling of the situation was horrible when it did not pan out. And the fact that LeBron, who started the season calling the young core his brothers, did nothing to help smoothen things for the core, in the midst of the storm has lead to the current discord that we see in the team.
He was most definitely a part of the process behind the scenes in the trade for Davis. And now that that has failed LeBron continues to take shots at the young Lakers, their work ethic and distractions etc.
Fact is, the Lakers core has continued its development this season and is showing out right now. They are in the worst situation on a semi-competitive team, in Hollywood, with the circus around LeBron and Magic surrounding them and they’re doing well.
Calling the young core out for the absolutely terrible rest of the roster build up of Rondo, KCP, Stephenson and McGee who are all producing huge negative output since December, is a recipe for disaster and is getting him on the wrong side of the Lakers fans who have rooted for these guys since the start of their careers when the fans had no one else to root for.