Mike D’Antoni resigns: Lakers fans rejoice

The Lakers will have a new coach in 2014-15. Mike D’Antoni resigned from the Lakers last Wednesday. D’Antoni coached the Lakers for the past two seasons. In those two years, D’Antoni went a subpar 62-82. This season the Lakers had their worst season in Franchise History under MDA at 27-55 and will have a top pick in the NBA Lottery draft. Every Lakers fan called for management to fire D’Antoni, however Mike made it easy on the franchise and fans by resigning from the team. D’Antoni signed a three year contract with the Lakers, but the Lakers had a team option for his fourth season. The coach wanted Lakers management to give him assurance that he would be back for his fourth season as Lakers head coach, but the Lakers would not cave in to his demands. Since the Lakers decided not to pick up his fourth year, D’Antoni decided to walk. The Lakers are now off the hook for the four million dollars that would have been owed to MDA next season under his three year 12 million dollar deal.

The Lakers are very fortunate that Mike D’Antoni resigned after this season and before the NBA draft and summer free agency period. Now that D’Antoni or “Pringles” (called by fans) is gone the Lakers will have great leverage in pursuing free agents to attract them to come play in LA for the Lakers. The Lakers will also be able to draft a possible future franchise player in the lottery whom they can groom to be the next heir apparent after Kobe Bryant retires. Most players and free agents did not want to play for MDA so the resigning of the former Lakers head coach comes as a blessing in disguise. Players like Carmelo Anthony had no intent to play for D’Antoni, now that MDA is gone, LA seems like a paradise destination. Dwight Howard left the Lakers after the 2012-13 season because he didn’t want to play for D’Antoni.

Pau Gasol also displayed his displeasure with D’Antoni this year as said that D’Antoni does not use him correctly in the offense. Gasol was leaning to leave the Lakers in free agency this summer, but now that MDA is gone, Gasol might return to the Lakers with Kobe and the gang. Gasol wants to win championships and he wants to play for a coach that he respects.

The Lakers will have the chance to draft highly touted NBA prospects such as Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Dante Exum, Julius Randle, and more. With the departure of D’Antoni they can rest assured that the Lakers are headed back into a winning culture once again.

Free Agents available this summer include Carmelo Anthony, Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, Zach Randolph etc. In 2015 Kevin Love will be available if the Lakers are to pursue him, and 2016 Kevin Durant.

Coaching candidates for the Lakers include both college and NBA coaches. The Lakers are planning to make runs at the big and small names such as George Karl, Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson (recently fired by GSW), Kevin Ollie, Tom Thibedeau, Byron Scott, and Derek Fisher.

After a very bleak 2013-14 season the Lakers are hoping to turn the ship around and once again be in contention for another title before Kobe retires. The Lakers mantra has always been to win championships and they plan to do that once again through the draft and free-agency.

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Playoff Push (Kobe Time)

                The Lakers have finally started to click and chemistry has developed. These are not the same roll over and kick me dead, diva, drama filled Lakers that started the season. The new and improved Lakers are all about just playing basketball and winning games. No more distractions and finger pointing. After the Memphis loss on January 23rd the team called a players only meeting, and since that point there has been a 180 degree turnaround. These were the same Lakers who were 7 games under .500 at 17-24 and looked like a beaten down dead horse. Well something sparked after that meeting, and everybody turned the focus and intensity up.

Since January 23rd the Lakers have gone 17-8 and currently hold the 8th and final playoff spot over the Utah Jazz by ½ a game. At the moment the Lakers are standing at 34-32 and they have reached above .500 for the first time since November 20th when they were 6-4. The Lakers now control their own destiny simply by winning games. It also has been a tremendous help to the Lakers that the Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, and Utah Jazz have all been struggling mightily and have been dropping games as well. If the Lakers keep winning and the Jazz, Warriors, and Rockets keep free falling then the Lakers could possibly earn a 6th spot in the Western Conference seeding.

            What is the reason that this ship we know as the Lakeshow has changed its course? Well I will spell it out for you with four letters, K-O-B-E. Kobe Bryant has singlehandedly sparked and led the Lakers to successive wins since the All-star game. Since the All-star break, Kobe has been scoring 30.8ppg, 7.3 apg, and 6.6 rpg while shooting near 50%. Kobe will do literally anything it takes to win. Whether that be the role of facilitating and dishing assists to teammates or taking the ball to the rack himself, Kobe taken it upon himself to will this Lakers squad to victory and has determined that this Lakers team will make the playoffs by any means necessary (insert Malcolm X quote here). The resiliency of Kobe has been imprinted onto his teammates and this Lakers team will not give up. The Lakers have had 2 back to back comeback wins in March vs. the New Orleans Hornets and Toronto Raptors. In both of those games the Lakers were down by 20 points or more and rallied back to win the game in the fourth quarter. Kobe scored 42 points 12 assists and 7 rebounds against the Hornets to overcome a 25 point deficit and win the game. The very next night Kobe put up almost identical numbers with 41, 12, and 6. In the Toronto game Kobe hit a game-tying fade-away three to send the game into overtime. From there Kobe displayed his dominance as the Lakers won 118-116 in overtime. Not only is scoring at such a high rate and efficiency but he is also guarding the elite opposing guards in the game, did I mention that Kobe is doing all this at age 34 in his 17th year. Hence the name Kobe has adopted is Vino because his game is like a fine wine that gets only better with age.

            The next reason the Lakers have been playing better basketball is that everyone has accepted their roles. Steve Nash has become a spot up and perimeter shooter, Dwight Howard has become a defensive anchor and rebounder, and Antwan Jamison and Jodie Meeks have been playing much better coming off the bench. Dwight Howard has been playing much better as of late and it looks like he is getting healthier as he is more active in the paint and on the glass. Since the allstar game Dwight Howard has flipped a switch. Not only does he look healthier and stronger but his play has undoubtedly improved. Post All-star break Dwight is averaging 17ppg, 15rpg, and 2.5 bpg. In his return to Orlando, Howard had a monster game with 39 points, and shot 25-39 from the free throw line, he also had 16 rebounds and 3 blocks. The only other player to put 39 points, 16 rebounds, and 3 blocks against the Magic is the Diesel Shaquille O’neal. The biggest improvement for Howard is that he is now contesting and altering shots as well as grabbing offensive and defensive rebounds more aggressively. Howard has stopped complaining like a whiny baby and he is now just focused on playing ball and winning. He says that his mindset shifted during the All-star break. Dwight realized that he was fortunate to play with one of the all-time greats in Kobe Bryant and this is his chance to compete for a championship. Howard also said that he has changed his diet and cut out all unnecessary sugars such as skittles and candy bars as well as getting better conditioning in the weight room to help with his improving back.

            With the team much improving and chemistry starting to flow it looks like the Lakers are making a nice run for a playoff push in the Western Conference. Injuries have really slowed this Lakers team down with all their stars missing time from Nash’s lengthy period of time out, to a recovering Dwight Howard playing with a surgically repaired back and torn labrum, and Pau Gasol who is expected to return after missing 6-8 weeks with Plantar Fascia. When everything seems to be going right, some sort of adversity happens again. Kobe last night in a close loss to the Atlanta Hawks, was undercut and suffered a sprained ankle by Dantay Jones which was a clear foul and a chance for the Lakers to tie the game at 94 and to send it into overtime. The X-rays were negative and Kobe is listed out as indefinitely with a severe ankle sprain. The Lakers are estimating that he will most likely not play at least the next 2 games. However we are taking about the Black Mamba who is the ultimate warrior and plays through every sort of pain and injury imaginable, so you never know. One thing that is for certain is that the Lakers must continue to control their own destiny from here on out by winning as many games as possible. These Lakers cannot afford to play under .500 ball. Every game matters from here. All Lakers fans everywhere are praying for a speedy and healthy recovery for Kobe Bryant so that the Lakers will make the playoffs and have at least a chance to compete for a title.

Magic Mamba

People often say that Kobe Bryant does not share the ball enough. Well in the last six games Kobe is averaging Magic Johnson type numbers in terms of assists with 10apg. The Lakers have won five of their last six games as the Black Mamba has turned into the Magic Mamba. This new look Lakers team has looked very exiting these last 6 games with excellent ball movement spearheaded by #24 himself. Kobe came up one short (with 14assists) in back to back games versus Utah and OKC both constituting wins. His career high in assists was set back on February 12, 2002 with 15.

The fact however is that Kobe now is instilling trust and confidence in his teammates. This whole season Kobe Bryant has had to bail out the Lakers and will the team to victories because nobody else was stepping up. Kobe’s “Magic” Johnson type numbers have soared recently because his teammates are now actually making their shots and converting on their field goal opportunities. Kobe has consistently been sharing the ball even prior to this last assist heavy stretch. For this season Kobe is already above his career assist average of 4.7apg with 5.4apg. So to say that Kobe Bryant has just started passing the ball is wildly inaccurate and off kilter.

Kobe has been sharing the basketball and is actively trying to get other teammates involved. The difference these last 6 games have been his teammates actually making shots when Kobe has passed it to them hence the hike in the assists per game. Yes Kobe is shooting less shots but that is because his teammates are starting to make more of their own. Over the last six games Kobe is averaging 14 field goal attempts per game and is scoring 17ppg with 7.6rpg. In this stretch Kobe has averaged numbers rivaling the Big O Oscar Robertson and Earvin Magic Johnson. These stats are point guard like numbers not shooting guard numbers. Not only has Kobe been actively finding his teammates for open shots but he has sacrificed his own game for the sake of his team. Kobe lead the league in scoring with almost 30ppg going into this six game stretch and now has fell to 3rd in the NBA in scoring at 27.7 ppg.

The most unselfish act I have ever seen from any player in any sport came from the Black Mamba Kobe Bryant on Friday’s victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Kobe had a wide open fastbreak dunk with nobody even remotely in sight, but Kobe flipped the ball to his pal Pau Gasol and unselfishly gave the big man a two handed slam to boost his confidence. What Kobe did for Gasol was beyond just a regular assist, it was an act of belief. He showed Gasol with his actions that he believes that #16 is still one of the best big men of the NBA and that even in this tough patch D’Antoni making Pau “ride the pine,” that Kobe Bryant still has his back. Another example of instilling confidence in his team was in the same game, Kobe drove into the lane then kicked the ball out to the artist formerly known as Ron Artest aka Metta World Peace for three, then Metta missed it and Kobe had the audacity to pass it to him again. This time Metta drained the trey and was smiling ear to ear. This is the sort of leadership and trust that Kobe has taken upon himself to elevate his team to start winning games and become actively involved in all aspects of the game. Since guys feel confidence offensively they have became more engaged defensively.

After the Lakers had a players meeting in Memphis, they have come together as a collective group to play team basketball. The team went from a get mine mentality to an all for one mentality. These Lakers now play for each other and it stems from the top down with the alpha dog Kobe Bryant leading the charge. Kobe has showed a willingness and trust in his teammates believing in them even when they might not have belief in themselves. When asked if the Lakers talked about Kobe becoming more of a play-maker and facilitator, Kobe said it just happened. He didn’t discuss it with anyone; he just took it upon himself to do what he thought would help the team win games. Will Kobe remain as the great play-maker and facilitator? Well as long as the Lakers keep winning games he will. All that matters to KB24 is wins. At this stage of his career Kobe Bryant could care less about his personal numbers and more about the team winning and hopefully making the playoffs with championship aspirations. As for now the Lakers are taking it one game at a time.

Not the personnel but the System (Mike D’less Antoni)

             Enough is enough. As a lifelong diehard Lakers fan I am utterly mortified and disappointed in this Lakers squad this season. With such a star studded cast of all stars, former MVPs and NBA Champions the Lakers have fallen flat on title aspirations and expectations. As a team the Lakers need to WAKE up. Flat is the perfect word to describe this team as it seems like almost every other game they come out lethargic and without any energy. A lot of people may say that the Lakers players themselves should be to blame, but I would disagree. The players are partially to blame for their losing record but the brunt (thanks Kobe for this word) of the blame should be toward the coaching staff and Lakers management. Mainly I would blame Jim Buss and Mike D’Antoni for this fiasco.

The problem for the Lakers the whole season has been defense. Mike Brown was supposedly a defensive genius but instead he focused all his intention on teaching them a read and react Princeton offense. So after merely 5 games at 1-4 Mike Brown got the boot. Here was the Lakers chance at a golden opportunity and a fresh start. Phil Jackson was handed to them on a silver platter and was ready to come back and coach the Lakers to another Championship Title. It would be the perfect fit for the Lakers and for the Zen Master. However the heir to the Lakers throne Jim Buss agreed with Mitch Kupchak that they would rather sign Mike D’Antoni instead of the 11x NBA Champion Phil Jackson. That would be fine but last time I checked Mike D’Antoni has never won a championship and his defensive philosophy is just that a philosophy. D’Antoni has never even been to the NBA Finals but apparently he must be a better choice the greatest coach who ever lived Phil Jackson. The Lakers personnel right now is even better suited for PJax and his Triangle Offense. With the 2 Big Men Gasol and Dwight Howard and the best passing point guard Steve Nash not to mention the BEST player in the NBA Kobe Bryant, this team was made for Phil Jackson to lead them to the NBA Finals Promised Land.  

                        Nothing personal against Mike D’Antoni, actually I like him as a guy he is quite easy going and funny in his interviews but he is not the right coach for this Lakers team. Mike D’Antoni will not adjust his system for his personnel and that has been a problem since he arrived in LA LA Land. How can you implement a run and gun offense with 2 7 footers and a bunch of veteran players. The personnel the Lakers have do not fit his system. A good coach would realize this and would adjust his system to fit with his players. Since joining the Lakers as head coach this season Mike D’Antoni is a measly 10-13 which is a .435 winning percentage. After winning 5 games in a row the Lakers are now on a 4 game losing skid. I have no idea what Mike D’Antoni is thinking when he feels that having Pau Gasol jack up long 3s is more useful than having one of the best post up big men in the POST. Gasol has played his whole career under the basket and has the best footwork and touch of any big man in the NBA. Instead D’Antoni has Howard in the paint and forcing contested hook shots. It is mind boggling that they call this guy an offensive genius. I think the person who gave the title of defensive guru to Mike Brown is the same one who called D’Antoni an offensive genius. If D’Antoni knew what he was doing he would put Gasol in the low post and Dwight Howard in the High Post up at the elbow and have D12 come off the screen and roll with Nash assisting. If the pick in roll is not there, then feed it down low to Gasol who has the skill and touch to finish down low. If the low post is defended then swing it to the wing and let the Black Mamba Kobe Bryant the Closer go to work. Also the Lakers need to let Steve Nash shoot the rock more. Yes he is the facilitator and gets everyone involved but he is a lethal knockdown shooter at 50% and 40% from 3 point land. Steve Nash must pull the trigger more for the Lakers to be effective because it certainly doesn’t look like we are getting any production from the bench and role players. Kobe is leading the league in scoring in his 17th season and is having his highest FG% efficiency of his career. The Lakers need to feed the Beast Dwight Howard more often as well but put him in winning situations. Dwight is most effective coming off the pick and pop with Nashty hitting him with the sweet dish. Mike D’Antoni needs to realize that it would be more effective to play a half court offense utilizing the Lakers size with their bigs rather than play a run and gun offense with older veteran players. Let the Lakers set up on offense and pound the ball down low or pick and roll with Nash to Howard. Even Iso for Kobe and good things will happen.

            The biggest problem for the Lakers has to be Defense. The Lakers rank 26th in points allowed giving up 100.6 points a game. That is a major problem. When you are handing out Free Tacos (Lakers home tradition joke) to the other team it is hard to win games. The transition defense of the Lakers is absolutely abysmal as other teams exploit the Lakers turnovers for easy fastbreak points with no Lakers getting back on defense. The Lakers are averaging 102.9 points a game which is 5th best overall but giving up 100 points means that it will be hard and almost impossible to win games on a nightly basis. The Lakers have the 3rd most turnovers a game with 15 and only force their opponents into 13 TOs. So with lack of defense the Lakers need to protect the basketball much better to limit transition points for their opponents. They say that defense wins championships well Mike D’Antoni has actually never heard this phrase or completely thrown it out the window altogether. For the Lakers to become a championship team let alone a playoff team they need to get COMMITTED to DEFENSE. A discipline to play team defense and rotating to help each other with take this team far. So far it looks like Mike D’less Antoni’s defensive strategy is paying off, that is not playing defense at all. This team needs to buckle down and bring the defensive intensity on every possession and let the defense create turnovers to enable the offense. If the Lakers could become a trapping defense and force contested shots consistently then this team could be really dangerous. Dwight Howard needs to be the anchor on defense by blocking and altering shots and switching for other teammates when in need. Kobe Bryant is the leader of this team and he needs to preach that defense is key and everything else will take care of itself. As long as the Lakers are committed to playing tough defense, rotating, creating contested shots, rebounding, and forcing turnovers then they can turn this season around and become a lethal contender. However if the Lakers remain with this nonchalant attitude when it comes to defense and not playing hard then the rest of the season will be an utter downfall.

            I still believe that the Lakers can turn this season around and become playoff contenders and hopefully a championship caliber team. The main focus has to be a commitment to defense and Mike D’Antoni adjusting his offense to cater to the players that he has. D’Antoni cannot force his players to adjust to his system but he needs to change his system to accommodate to his players. The Lakers must play every game from here on out as if it were Game 7 of the NBA Finals because they have dug such a hole for themselves that hunger, will, desperation, and intensity will only help to get them out of it. The Lakers are 15-19 right now and need roughly 48 wins to make the playoffs. Right now the Lakers need to go 34-15 in their last 49 games to play.  

                        Please pick up the intensity, will and desire-

 

-Signed a Concerned Lakers Fan!

             

#Kobe30k

Kobe Bean Bryant is once in a generation, better yet once in a lifetime type of player. When I will be talking basketball with my future children and grandchildren Kobe will be the emphasis of how great the NBA was back in my good ol’ days. No player has scored at such a successful rate with such fluidity and grace. What I am concerned with is that our generation takes Kobe for granted, and with all the critics and haters they are missing out on true greatness. Kobe has already entered into the top 5 greatest players of all time. On Wednesday December 5th 2012, Kobe became the youngest of only the 5 players in NBA history to score 30,000 career points, and joins Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan, and Wilt Chamberlain to accomplish such a feat. Not only that, but Kobe Bryant is the Lakers all-time franchise leading scorer. That fact alone is simply mind boggling. Kobe Bryant has scored more points in a Lakers uniform than the all-time greats such as Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, George Mikan, Shaquille O’neal, James Worthy, and the list goes on.

The most impressive fact is that Kobe Bryant has scored over 30,000 points and counting with 1 team (the Los Angeles Lakers) and has won 5 NBA championships to go along with it. Kobe not only scores at will but he also plays defense. There are a lot of players that are good offensively but they don’t play defense on the other end of the floor. Kobe does everything offensively and defensively. He is a 12 time All defensive team player (9x 1st team All Defensive, 3x 2nd team All Defensive). Kobe Bryant is one of those Hall of Famer legendary players that generations will speak of forever. KB24 is a 2x Finals MVP and a regular season MVP. The craziest fact is that Kobe Bryant has spent half of his life in the NBA playing for the Lakers and has logged in over 43,077 minutes in a total of 1,180 games. Kobe has proven to be the most durable workhorse in the NBA. Kobe is the ultimate warrior, year in year out playing through injuries yet never making excuses just finding a way to win games and contribute for the Lakers.

Kobe Bryant has all the tools one could only dream to possess. He has the unguardable fadeaway jumper, the long range three pointer, the emphatic dunk, and even the baby hook. The problem for every defender is that no matter how good they guard him the Black Mamba still finds a way to score. The greatest thing about Kobe is his mentality to win. No matter the cost, no matter the outcome he wills his team to victory. I have never seen a player who has hit more gametying or gamewinning shots like that of Kobe Bean Bryant. The clutchness of Kobe is sheerly unmatched and his will to win and determination for greatness is unparalleled.

Not only has Kobe reached the elite status of 30,000 points for his career, but he is also playing at the highest level in his 17th season in the NBA at age 34. Kobe has shot the ball extremely well with career high efficiency at 50% while leading the league in scoring at 27.4 points ppg. Kobe is firing on all cylinders and is determined to win his 6th Championship Ring and the Lakers 17th. The Lakers found a gem in 1996 when they traded the Charlotte Hornets in the draft to gain Kobe Bryant for Vlade Divac. Kobe, Kareem, Magic, Wilt, West all will be known as Lakers Legends for life. Kobe is surely to be the next statue outside of Staples Center. When it is all said and done Kobe has the chance to become the NBA’s career leading scorer if he keeps at the pace he is now for the next 4-5 years. Regardless if Kobe breaks Kareem’s all-time scoring record of 38,387, Kobe will definitely enter the Hall of Fame as one of the greatest players to ever play the game of basketball.  Much love to KB24.

                                                              -Mamba Out

One down 81 to go

The hype for the new look revamped Lakers was more anticipated than Godzilla hitting the streets of Japan. The Lakers have tons of pressure to not only make the 2013 NBA Finals but to win it. That is what happens when you sign Steve Nash and trade for Dwight Howard. Not only did the Lakers make a splash in the off-season with its new superstar acquisitions but they emptied out the whole Pacific Ocean. The Lakers now have the highest payroll in the NBA with 100 million and expectations are through the roof for this team.

Last night however the Lakers that we thought we would see did not show up. For the first 2 quarters we saw glimpses of the at times dominant high flying OOP universe Lakers, but that was merely a shadow. Am I saying that Lakers fans should already hit the panic button and jump ship? Hell no! I still believe that the Lakers are the most talented team and even the deepest team in the NBA. However there are many things that did concern me about the Lakers opening day lost to the Dirkless Mavs, led by the ancient Vince Carter, Elton Brand, and Shawn Marion (aka the 2006 allstar team).

The areas the Lakers need to tighten up and real quick are free throw shooting, defense, offensive tempo, Princeton offense, and running in transition. The Lakers were abysmal from the free throw line last night at 12-31 for 38%. 12 of 31 is completely unacceptable, it is called a free throw because that’s exactly what it is a FREE throw. This mostly has to do with Dwight Howard who was 3-14 from the line or 21%. The last Laker to shoot a lower free throw percentage (with a minimum of 10 attempts) was Shaq who in 2004 who went 2-13 for 15%. Jordan Hill was also horrendous from the free throw line at 1-6 for 16%. If Dwight Howard alone makes at least 75% of his free throws or better the Lakers win their home opener. I think that with proper coaching Dwight Howard’s free throw percentage will go up but we just have to be patient as fans. The focus for Dwight in practice should be 2-3 hours of repetitive free throw shooting. Once you practice something so long eventually you master it and it will become second nature to him. The reason why Dwight will improve his free throw shooting and not be the next Shaq all comes down to his release. Shaq had no follow through on his shot, he essentially pushed the ball like he was shot-putting a peach into the basket. I don’t think that was Dr Naismith’s original intent for the game of basketball by the way. If Dwight can improve his free throw percent to a mere 75% the Lakers will have a much easier time holding leads and closing out games because than you can’t hack a Dwight. So far it looks like Superman has found his kryptonite and that is Free throw shooting.

What is Mike Brown thinking with this so called Princeton Offense? I could coach this team to a perfect season with all that talent he has been given. Forget the Princeton offense and reacting to what the defense gives you and making your offensive reads off that. Instead keep it simple and run the pick and roll with Nash to Gasol and Howard. The Lakers have the best passing point guard in the game but yet he is limited to coming off ball screens and not handling the ball. I am baffled how Mike Brown thinks that Pau Gasol should run point forward and not Steve Nash. The Lakers should not be running a read and react offense but they should be running an attack pick and roll offense. When the Black Mamba Kobe Bryant is on your team you must know that you always need to attack. Attack the front of the rim and get easy oops and run on the fastbreak with Nash to Howard. I hope by June I am apologizing vehemently to Mike Brown regarding this Princeton offense but for now I think the Lakers should push the offensive tempo and get out on the run and use pick and roll often. For gosh sake even resurrect the Triangle at least Kobe, Metta, and Gasol know how to run that!

The biggest knock I have from last night’s game was the defense or lack of it. There was no ball pressure, no defensive tenacity at all. The Lakers seemed disinterested on that side of the ball and more concerned with trying to know where to be in the new Princeton offense. Defense leads to turnovers and fastbreaks. Mike Brown is acclaimed for being a defensive guru but he clearly hasn’t lived up to his acclaimed title. Last night the Lakers gave up 99 points to a Dirkless Mavs team who had 3 vintage stars in the Protozoa era. It is on the coach to mentally prepare the players to play and sustain defensive pressure and intensity for 48 minutes. Last year the Lakers gave up 95.9 ppg. That definitely does not sound like a defensive genius to me. The Lakers need to honker down on Defense and make sure they are protecting the rim, causing turnovers, and contesting jump shots. There was way too many easy layups and dunks that were just from a lack of defensive effort. Also the pick and roll defense was nonexistent as the Lakers need to do a better job of switching and covering the open man after the screen.

Do I still believe in my Lakers? Yes of course. This new Lakers squad has just been assembled and it will take awhile to gel. They are working out there kinks and it might take a while before there is complete chemistry happening. As Metta said “chemistry is a bad word because it blows things up, I like to use love or togetherness.” The only thing that matters is that the Lakers are clicking and firing on all cylinders in June. The postseason is when the real season begins, but that doesn’t mean you don’t try to perfect your craft in the regular season. Dwight also chimed in “just because we have a talented team it’s just not gonna click. It takes time. Just gotta continue to stay focused.”

The biggest focus for the Lakers is to improve on free throw shooting, make that a priority for Dwight and the bigs; also pick and roll frequently with Nash and the Towers, and to play with defensive intensity and create turnovers forcing bad shots, blocks and getting steals in the open court.

“We have 81 more games to play and Rome wasn’t built in a day. That’s what somebody told me.” –Superman

Superman Returns! (D12 in LA)

The biggest anticipation of the whole 2012 season and summer offseason was where would Dwight Howard end up. Would D12 stay in Orlando, go to the Brooklyn Nets, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, or the Los Angeles Lakers. Anticipation soon turned to frustration as the Dwightmare saga continued for over a year span. One day he would say he wants to stay in Orlando then the next day he would demand a trade. It was like Brett Favre’s retirement all over again. After months of trade rumors and the Lakers even considering offering Andrew Bynum an extension, I truly had given up on the prospects of gaining Dwight and believed that Bynum would be the future Center for the Lakers. Then splash the waters of the Red Sea had finally parted. On August 11th it was announced that the Los Angeles Lakers had acquired the Man of Steel Superman Dwight Howard in a 4 team trade with the Denver Nuggets, Orlando Magic, and Philadelphia 76ers. The Lakers received Dwight Howard, Chris Duhon, and Earl Clark from Orlando, Philadelphia got Andrew Bynum from the Lakers and Jason Richardson from Orlando, Denver received Andre Iguodola, and the Magic received Aaron Afflalo and Al Harrington from Denver along with Josh McRoberts, Christian Eyenga from the Lakers, and from the Sixers Moe Harkless and Nikola Vucevic. Orlando has received future picks in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2017. Many have said that Orlando got the short stick on this trade but I definitely disagree they were able to shed salary while get draft picks and young players to build for the future. The Magic are using the Sam Presti model in OKC by building for the future in the draft. In fact if Dwight Howard didn’t opt into his contract last season with Orlando they would have received nothing in return and lost him in free agency. I feel every team won in this trade and it is a fair trade on all sides. Everybody got what they wanted. The Lakers got that big man and defensive presence, the Sixers got a big scoring center, Denver got an All-star athletic wing, and Orlando got young, relieved salary cap and future draft picks. We are just fortunate that David Stern kept his nose out of vetoing this trade (CP3 hiding in the corner).

It is sad to see Andrew Bynum leave the Lakers. He was just coming off his first Allstar season and was the number 2 option in the Lakers offense.  He posted 18pg and 11pg with almost 2 bpg. He was a force in the paint, when he WANTED to be. That is the key phrase that Andrew Bynum has the Randy Moss syndrome “He plays when he wants to play.” I have always been a huge fan of Andrew Bynum and believe he has great potential but the fact that he would literally take himself out of the play if he didn’t receive his first touch was just upsetting to watch. I know that he is a young 24 year old kid and has much to learn and grow because I am a month older than he is, and let me tell you immaturity and learning how to control emotions is something that is a process that everyone even myself goes through. Dwight Howard as well is not mature as we have seen his flip flopping trade demands and removals this season so they both even out in that category. But when the Lakers were able to land Dwight Howard I was ecstatic.

Here is why Superman has entered the building ala Staples Center. Dwight Howard is an absolute force on the defensive side as well as catching the ball under the rim. He is literally the reincarnation of Shaquille Oneal. The reason why I like the Dwight Howard trade is because Superman brings it on D every night. Dwight Howard has already been 3 time Defensive Player of the Year and he is only 26. Howard has also been to 6 All-Star games and reached the Finals in 2009 losing to the Los Angeles Lakers. So Howard knows what it is like to reach the big stage. Howard needs LA just as much as the Lakers need him. LA will repair Howard’s image and make him an even bigger star and Howard in return will help Kobe along with Nash and Gasol bring home a title to Hollywood. Another giant reason why Dwight fits the Lakers is because of the acquisition of Steve Nash on July 4th. Nash now has a set of keys to his new toys. Nash will be able to run the pick in roll to perfection with Gasol and Dwight and there will now be a new “lob city” in LA and the Lakers own the rights to the airspace. D12 will see a lot of alley oops; lob passes, tip-ins and offensive rebounds. Dwight is a player who plays off the ball more than Bynum would. Howard is one of the best offensive rebounders in the game and he will have many opportunities to get easy baskets from boarding the glass and tip-ins. In Los Angeles Dwight will no longer be option 1 like he was in Orlando so there is a lot of ease and no pressure on him now. All Dwight has to do is play Defense, rebound the basketball and get easy dunks. It is the perfect scenario for Dwight he will be on a championship caliber team and the pressure is off him to score 25 and get 20 rebounds. Also adding Dwight Howard he has the chance to follow in the line of great Hall of Fame Centers from George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and Shaq.

Shaq like Dwight was the first pick in the draft from Orlando and then moved to the Lakers. Shaq and Dwight both reached the Finals in Orlando and lost, both nicknamed Superman, both Dominant bigs, both gregarious personalities, and both wanting the chance to win rings. Well Shaq was able to win 3 titles in LA, and Dwight is looking to do the same.

Superman returns to LA and this time he has all the necessary pieces to ensure that the Larry Obrien Trophy returns to Los Angeles. Kobe Bryant is still one of the greatest players and scorers the NBA has ever seen, along with adding Nash who is the best passing point guard in the NBA, and Pau Gasol who is an athletic skilled 7 foot big man who can extend the floor. To add Dwight Howard arguably the best center in the NBA who is a force in the middle and a defensive block shot beast is almost incredulous to think about and literally makes the Lakers an unstoppable force and favorites to win the NBA Finals. Not to mention the Lakers still have Metta Ron Artest Peace who is still one of the best lock down defenders in the league with an improved bench of sharpshooter Jodie Meeks, backup point guard Chris Duhon, and resigning Jordan Hill and Devin Ebanks. The Lakers look to be very lethal and deadly just like the Black Mamba himself Kobe Bryant. If there was ever a statement that Kobe wanted to dethrone the Miami Heat and reclaim his glory as NBA champion it was acquiring Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. The Lakers have just taken the king out and said Checkmate game over. “Yall playing checkers, while we playing chess” –Kobe Bryant. That is why Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak are the best front office in all of sports, it’s because they are not afraid to make the big-time moves.

Kobe Bryant welcomes the return of Superman as he goes for his last hurrah as a world champion. This is the most talented team that has been assembled. I don’t believe that chemistry will be an issue because Nash, Kobe, and Gasol are all veterans and know how to win. Nash is hungry for his first title and Kobe is hungry to get his 6th. There could not be a better scenario for the Lakers than the upcoming 2013 season. Landing D12 to LA has made me giddy and brings the most anticipation for any season since the 2010 Lakers championship. Lakers fans are now rejuvenated and like Dwight said about his coming to the Lakers “excited.” Dwight is excited to put on the purple and gold and so are the fans. Not to knock Bynum but when you are not excited to be a Laker any longer and tell the world you could play anywhere well that means your time in LA is up buddy. Unfortunately we had to say good bye to a big-time presence but fortunately we get to say Hello to a larger than life Superman. The Lakers now have another chance to build a dynasty. They could possibly win not 1, not 2, not 3, well you know how the rest goes. Dwight has the keys to the franchise after Kobe retires and now can compete to win many championships here in LA. The Lakers don’t rebuild they reload.