This may very well have been the worst first half of a season the Los Angeles Lakers have had in decades, and I’m not only measuring that by their measly, 18-35, record. Kobe Bryant has played in six games due to injury, Steve Nash has only played in ten, they have started 15 different players, and one player was elected to be a part of All-Star weekend, Bryant, who will not partake. The team decided to spend an extreme amount of money to keep Mamba, which doesn’t seem to be working out. Basically, the Lakers are hurting from all angles.
First, let’s start with All-Star weekend. Being that the Lakers have been very possibly the least relevant team in the NBA this year aside from maybe the Bucks, it’s not hard to understand why they don’t have anyone competing during the break, but it is sad. They’ve had at least one player in the All-Star game since the 1995-96 season, almost a 20-year streak. Yes, Kobe Bryant was voted in, but that decision was made solely on popularity, as his six games were not impressive in the least.
Whether they’re competing in the skills competition, showing off their range in the 3-point shootout or throwing down in the dunk contest, it’s great to have a player out there fighting for a trophy. The Lakers are one of three teams who don’t have someone competing all weekend, and that’s including the Rising Stars Challenge. The team needs a player to root for because it boosts morale and makes the weekend relevant.
The Lakers also need all the positive press they can get because this year 90% of the time they’ve been in the media is because of problems, whether it’s injuries, coaching problems, being flexed out of a primetime TV game, or having the worst record in the Western Conference. If Nick Young could have somehow received a spot in the dunk contest or Pau would have been elected to play in the game, the word “Lakers” could have been said in a bright light at least once over the mid-season break.
So, now that the negatives are over with, let’s take a look at what they could gain from this weekend. Steve Nash is old, he’s 40, so having a few days off while his body is still ailing can only benefit the team. Aside from him trying to get back to regular form, the Lakers have six other players fighting the injury bug, including Gasol and Young, two players who have provided the Lakers with a go-to option in a time of need. Finally, it’s four days off where they don’t have games that Kobe Bryant will miss.
If the Lakers are going to move forward with the roster they have, everyone needs to get back to mid-season form and begin playing together. Kobe Bryant isn’t going anywhere after that contract extension, so getting him back on the court to play with LA’s youngsters is important, from a physical and mental viewpoint. Not every team has two former MVP’s on their roster that can mentor as well as Nash and Bryant, and the best part is, they are gifted in different areas. Bryant’s winning-only mentality has only ever been matched by the game’s best and Nash’s basketball intelligence can be bestowed on those who have just entered the league.
But the most important characteristic of the Lakers second half must be consistency. If they’re going to move Gasol before Thursday’s trade deadline, they need to do it and be confident in their decision because bouncing new faces in and out isn’t working for them. It’ll be refreshing to see a healthy squad take the floor regardless of their record because building can be done to prepare them for the 2014-15 season.