Reality’s a bitch

Ok… honesty: LA’s struggling harder than a three-legged dog trying to bury a bone on a marble floor. 
Whatever the reasons for the malaise (and we’ll explore later), that is a truth that just can’t be put away, hidden, and simply passed over with any complacent apologist crap. 

No excuses, but time for a somewhat honest appraisal.  “Somewhat honest” because well… hey, I’m a Lakers fan, and I’m bound to be more optomistic about LA than those who are not, despite the efforts to be as brutally honest as I can.

Somewhere, very recently, someone wrote:
“The Lakers are struggling big time. It’s times like this when a Top 10 player of all time would step up.”
Interesting… and because I found that comment interesting, I explored a lil’.

First of all, the same people who make those kind of comments would be the first to deride #24 when he does step up and try and take over a game… successful or not. 

Other than Michael Jordan, not too many all time greats were doing what Kobe has been doing at this point in his career.  And even fewer of them had 15 seasons on their wheels at 32 years of age. 

To put it into perspective, Magic Johnson was forced into retirement (unfortunate, due to contracting HIV – but difficult to say what he’d be at 15 seasons, but he was still pretty useful when he returned for a season) and Kareem Abdul Jabbar was still very effective, but playing second fiddle to Magic Johnson in his prime.
Hell, when Michael Jordan had 15 seasons under his belt, he was in his final season – playing as a Wizard. 

So, to put the Lakers’ struggles on Kobe because “he’s not performing as a top ten all time” isn’t worth spit.  Neither Magic nor Kareem were the leader and primary option of a contending team at the same stages of their illustrious careers… and for that matter, neither was Michael Jordan.

However… there is a premise in the above that IS relevant, that IS something worth exploring.  And that’s the notion of whether Kobe Bean Bryant should be shouldering the complete load.

The Los Angeles Lakers are a team laden with talent, regardless of current woes.  Yet thirty-something games in, and LA are in the midst of a slump that hasn’t been seen in quite a while, despite the excellent win over Detroit. 
Kobe gets his, and is averaging 25+ per game.  And season to season, LA’s #24 reinvents himself to keep himself at the upper echelons of players of players in the game – and as alluded to earlier, very few players have succeeded in doing so like Kobe B. Bryant.

However… perhaps it’s time for Kobe to come up with yet another incarnation, one that in my opinion will add greater depth to the Lakers, and long term probably will enable Kobe to be both better prepared for the playoffs, and won’t impact his scoring overly.  Long term (on a ‘this season’ basis).

The following information is vital:

The numbers are slightly skewed with Andrew Bynum, as his field goal attempts are obviously effected by his lack of playing time – and the same with his points per game (which will undoubtedly rise).  But the basic point is that Kobe’s carrying the scoring load, and LA would be better off spreading it around a little, especially given that each of the bigs are 7-13% more effective, largely due to proximity to the basket.
The impact of this would be huge.  Spreading the ball around more would probably end up in Kobe getting easier shots – thus his point total is unlikely to dip much (and his FG% would probably rise a tick), and the likelihood of LA winning would rise by quite a bit.  This would have the additional benefit of getting Bryant more rest – something that will be vital to LA’s success in the post season.

The win over the Pistons was definitely a step in the right direction. 
Apparently Phil had hit the players with a hard training – a step in the right direction – and the team responded with a resounding 25 point win.  Of the starters, only Pau Gasol played more than 30 minutes.  The scoring load was spread around, but Kobe’s effectiveness wasn’t as good as it could have been – 17 points off 6-18 shooting on a night where he passed ‘Nique to make the top ten scorers of all time.  Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom were all more efficient scorers.
Still, 8 assists and 7 rebounds makes it not a bad day in the office.  Kobe finds ways to be effective. 
Now… if the FGA could drop just a little… 

However, one game doesn’t make it a trend – LA have to do this on a continual basis. 
The rest of the season starts today in Phoenix.