This Laker season has been very unusual to say the least. It is fair to note the Lakers have been hampered with injuries, but with three Hall of Famers suited up 90% of the time there is no room for excuses.
Mike D’Antoni has struggled finding consistent lineups that work. Players have been benched, minutes have been cut, and this still didn’t solve the problems. D’Antoni’s plethora of lineups has hurt some players rhythm and confidence, but I praise him for these adjustments. He might of just found the answer.
D’Antoni pulled a rabbit out of the hat by sending Pau Gasol to the bench. The fact that Gasol started 816 out of 823 games before he was brought to the bench just intensifies the crazy move. However, to D’Antoni’s credit, he has honestly found something.
Who remembers early on in the season when the only words out of Kobe Bryant‘s mouth were “adjustment(s)”? At one point in the year, Kobe even told Gasol to “put on his big boy pants”. The irony to all this, is that Kobe had not made a single adjustment until the recent wins against the Jazz and Thunder. Granted, Kobe did takeover the point guard role while Nash was out, but only because he had to. Chris Duhon and Darius Morris are far worse at initiating the offense than Mr. Bryant.
D’Antoni decided to bring Pau off the bench, even with his own open resentment to the call. Pau has since accepted the role and has played phenomenal ball. Now, the exact move of bringing Gasol off the bench is not the key, but Gasol’s willingness to do anything for the teams success is.
Now let me ask you this: Who is Pau Gasol’s number one fan? That’s right, Kobe Bean Bryant.
Kobe has had more assists (28) than shot attempts (22) over the Lakers last two wins against playoff teams. Now, that is an adjustment my friends. It is almost as crazy as bringing a star off the bench, who has started 99.14 percent of NBA games in his career!
When you have arguably four first options on your team there is no way you can have the mindset of “getting yours” – this will throw everyone out of rhythm and undoubtably hurt the team, as we have seen before.
Kobe’s scoring arsenal has played a huge role as well. Teams will double Kobe when he is at his spots, leaving those three other first option players with an easy attempt. When opposing teams decide to leave Kobe one on one, I’m sure he will make them pay. This essentially makes the Lakers un-guardable.
Kobe needs to continue playing unselfish ball, but also make teams pay when they don’t help. This is the only way they will be able to turn things around. Yes, Kobe is known for scoring, but he is also known for winning. At this point in the season, I think Kobe will continue distributing the ball and finding the open guy. The Lakers can’t afford anymore forced shots or bad turnovers. Kobe needs to be able to trust his teammates if they are going to be contenders.
For this team to be successful, they need to be just that, a team.