Time is quickly beginning to work against the Lakers as they have been unable to transcend the .500 mark. As tenacious as the Lake Show tends to play, they are currently caught in a deficit in a conference that is extremely talented, and any man’s land.
The Western Conference is any man’s land. Although Portland (23-5), San Antonio (22-5), Oklahoma City (23-6), and the Los Angeles Clippers (20-9) lead the pack, the last four spots belong to any of the underdog groups. Currently, the Lakers are in 10th place in the West with only a .464 winning percentage at 13-15, and at this stage in the game, with any hopes of placing in the Western Conference, the Lakers must start putting together wins immediately. Fans may argue that it is too early to make any predictions, but if the Lakers were in the Eastern Conference they would have no real need to worry as they would place around 5th or 6th in the conference. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
Injuries, injuries and more injuries
Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar, Kobe Bryant (as quickly as he returned), and Steve Nash are all sidelined with various injuries, with Kobe’s being the most shocking and disheartening.
Kobe was back in action for six games after suffering a torn Achilles’ tendon at the end of the previous season. In his sixth game back against the Memphis Grizzlies, Kobe was set back once again with a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee, and will subsequently miss six weeks for recovery.
Kobe’s recent injury calls into question the $48 Million two year contract the Lakers’ organization just signed with Kobe with confidence that he was still a major asset to the team. Kobe will go down in history as one of the greatest NBA guards of all time, and he will reach the Hall of Fame, but can we, as fans, trust Kobe’s body to hold on a couple more seasons without injuries? He’s endured so many injuries, and at the age of 35, his body and time itself may be starting to work against him.
Steve Nash, probably the second most important player on the team, is questionable as to when he will return, which is really due to wear and tear of the body more than anything else, since Nash has been in the league for eighteen seasons – just like Kobe. And while he has the will to return, considering his age and the extent of his injuries due to his age, Nash would ultimately make the right decision if he retired from the NBA.
The Lakers’ health has been a nightmare the last couple of seasons with the team unable to gel in a significant way. The issues with the Lakers’ health are indeed affecting their ability to win games as well as formulate true chemistry between the players. It seems like a string of “bad luck,” but the body can only sustain so much, in addition to players simply suffering fluke accidents on the court.
Light at the end of a dark tunnel
Next year, the Lakers will have cap space to sign a big name NBA player or two, but is that what the Lakers really need to regain their notoriety in the league? Since the Lakers organization are all about doing big things, don’t be surprised about what they do to get someone like LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony in the off-season.
As a fan, I wouldn’t be too pleased with either of those guys, but I would be pleased with more consistent players in the front court, and major improvement at the guard position (the team’s most dismal suffrage). With some tweaks to the roster in those areas, I believe that the Lakers will improve significantly for next year, but, what about this 2013-2014 season? From what I have seen of the Lakers this season, factoring in the injuries to the guards, the Lakers should ride this season out regardless of whether they make the playoffs or not and prepare for next season.
I am basically saying that maybe the Lakers should consider a tank of this season, and prepare for next season and “life after Kobe”.
Again, some may argue that it is too early in the season to make a determination of how the Lakers will finish, but the team found themselves in similar trouble last season with a better roster – at least on paper – and the playoffs were barely accomplished.
This year the team is solid, but injuries are hurting them again. It is very tough to witness, but a focus on next season should ease the anxiety of fans and give us all an understanding as to what needs to be done to make yet another multiple year playoff run.
This was an article by Kimberly Brock. You can follow her on Twitter here: @beerock26