As it now stands, the Lakers are a shocking 15-19, which puts them in 11th place in the Western Conference. Mike D'Antoni has coached from the sideline in twenty-four consecutive contests, which has resulted in 14 of their losses. Nash, who many hoped to be the Laker savior, has quarterbacked the team to a 3-5 record since his return. Not only is it doubtful that they can contend for a championship, it is now a realistic possibility they won't even make the playoffs.
In the 2010-2011 NBA season, the last full eighty-two game season, the eighth and final seed in the West had won forty-six games. If that is any indication of what the Lakers need to accomplish in order to make it to the postseason, they must now finish with a 31-17 record the rest of the way.
If that weren't a daunting enough task as it is, they must also overcome the adversity of having three of their big men out due to injury all at the same time.
Future franchise player hopeful Dwight Howard, is out at least a week with a torn labrum, Pau Gasol is out indefinitely with a concussion, and Jordan Hill at least a couple of games with a hip injury.
A new year's resolution is defined as, "a commitment that a person makes to one or more personal goals, projects, or the reforming of a habit in anticipation of a new year or new beginnings..."
It's only been a week and I'm already guilty of blowing one of my new year's resolutions. You guessed it. Be on time. And so my proposed list of resolutions for the Los Angeles Lakers is a week overdue. But as they say, better late than never.
10. Stay healthy. Oops. As I had previously stated, the Lakers frontcourt has been decimated by injury, all of which occurred against the Denver Nuggets Sunday evening. However, they were all relatively healthy on New Year's day and should focus on maintaining their health for the remainder of the season.
9. Don't be so old and slow. The words of Kobe Bryant. Not mine. At least on this occasion. The Black Mamba referred to himself and his Laker teammates as old and slow. Whether it is relatively speaking or not, he is dead on in terms of the personnel being asked to play in Coach D'Antoni's "Run N' Gun" system. The NBA trade deadline is February 21st. Perhaps they can make some moves that make them younger and faster by then.
8. Communicate better. Defense wins championships. In their current four game losing streak, the Lakers have allowed an average of just under 112ppg. Even if their offense is capable of putting up big numbers on any given night, if you're going to allow that many points, you're not going to beat anyone. But defense isn't just about effort. You have to talk. Whether it's making switches or letting your teammate know that a pick's coming and so forth, if you don't communicate the defense breaks down.
7. Cut down the turnovers. Bad habits are hard to break, but in this case it's crucial. Turning the ball over leads to too many easy transition baskets, especially since they are too old and slow to get back and defend.
6. They need to connect. Steve Nash expressed that the Clippers are playing so well because of their connectivity. You would think after eight preseason games and thirty-four regular season games this wouldn't be such an issue. But the Lakers look lost at times. The uncertainty has led to finger pointing, dirty looks, shoulder shrugs, and poor body language during games. If these things don't get addressed during practice then they will never be on the same page.
5. Do unto others... Dwight Howard stated that the Lakers need to pretend that they're friends. As silly as it sounds, he makes a good point. After all it is the "Golden Rule". Genuine or not, if they act like friends, theoretically it should develop into a good team chemistry. Friends help each other, like on defense. Friends share, like passing the ball to each other, and making sure that a player as efficient as Superman gets his touches. Friends talk, and often even know what the other is thinking, which should help prevent blown assignments on the defensive end.
4. Try harder. The effort of the Lakers is often questioned because they are capable of performances such as the one against the Knicks on Christmas day and even the encouraging loss against the Clippers last Friday in which they came back not once, but twice. But there hasn't been any consistency. They are already notorious for playing down to their competition. At this point they no longer have that luxury. Every game is meaningful and they must play like it if they are to have any hope of making the playoffs.
3. Be careful what you wish for. You wanted Superman and you got him via trade. Dwight Howard is a superstar. A league MVP, defensive player of the year, and dominant force in the paint. However, he is a major liability at the free throw line and not a go to guy when the game is on the line. He has also been rumored to be a team cancer, and been known to get a coach fired, allegedly. People assume he will stay rather than leave La La Land and an extra 25 million on the table. But he is young and immature and will inevitably do what he feels is best for him. If he is deeply committed to winning as he claims he is, he will choose to sign where he believes he has the best chance to do so. So far he has never won a thing, and if he doesn't win a title with Kobe this year, what convincing argument can one make that he will ever win a title with or without Kobe in LA.
2. Work together. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In order to reach their full potential the Lakers must work together as a team, not for individual accolades, but for the benefit of the whole team. Who better to be aware of this than the Lakers organization, which put together a star studded lineup of Kobe, Shaq, Karl Malone, and Gary Payton in 2004. Known as the "five game sweep", the Lakers were easily disposed of in the finals by the Detroit Pistons. The 2013 Lakers edition should be so lucky.
1. Don't let history repeat itself. Those that don't learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them. You hired Phil Jackson and you won three titles. You let him walk and you won zero titles. You rehire Phil Jackson and you won two more titles. You let him walk away again and so far, zero titles. But when the opportunity came to rehire him once more, you passed.
Now you're stuck with the coach you hired, which is the wrong coach for this team. If there's a way to fix this mess, then you bite the bullet and do it. Especially since the right coach just got engaged to the owner's daughter.
Happy belated New Year everyone!