The unchallenged pre-season NBA Champions, the LA Lakers have not lived up to the hype. To put it mildly, they've been disappointing. Realistically, they've been horrifying.
But, is this a temporary thing, like the Heat when they first added superstars, or is this a very real, very permanent problem?
To answer this, we have to look deeper. What is their major malfunction?
It's not offense. Kobe somehow has found the fountain of youth and is having his best season since 2006 by nearly every objective measure. Dwight has taken a step back statistically, but he is still a good-great center in a league with only a hand-full of those. That should be enough for at least an average playoff team, no?
But if you look deeper, the man who was often called the purest post scorer in the league has somehow went from elite to below average this season, shooting just over 40% in his new role, more than 6% worse than his previous low!
Nash has only played 13 games, leaving the worst point guard trio in the league to run a team with big egos and no other distributors. Darius Morris and Chris Duhon have reached a level of suck that few before have approached, and Steve Blake is barely terrible.
What's worse is that both the defense and the bench have been atrocious. Twenty-first in defensive efficiency, a measure that accounts for pace, among other things, the Lakers clearly are in the bottom 3rd on the defensive end.
The Lakers bench is possibly worse than the defense, ranking 26th in scoring, 20th in FG%, 23rd in assists, 28th in bench defensive efficiency,
But are these solvable issues?
I think they are- but not with D'Antoni at the helm, who has a long history of having these same issues on every team he's coached. And to bring in a run and gun coach for one of the ultimate half court teams ever assembled? The Lakers are a mess of mismatched stars, the Batman & Robin (1997) of basketball.
Magic Johnson thinks it's the players who are causing the struggles, not the coach or the system.
I'm tired of blaming the coach, the responsibility is on the @lakers players.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) January 7, 2013
What do you think? Are the Lakers done this season? Who is to blame for the Lakers struggles and are they fixable?