It’s Time for the Lakers to Return to the Basics

A lot of critics aren’t feeling too confident about how the Lakers look right now. Well, as a Laker fan and as someone who is responsible for critiquing the team and their performance, I say there is a legitimate reason for the concern and questions.

The Lakers have built a tradition of excellence on the court since their days in Minneapolis, and have strengthened this tradition with the dynasties created in Los Angeles. Now, I am not suggesting that there is a credible reason to complain just because they are losing. It is because of the way they are losing. The Lakers are playing as if this is a throwaway season. This does not fall in line with the Lakers’ tradition of excellence.

The Lakers’ offense is in complete disarray right now. Kobe Bryant told reporters recently, “[The offense] is under construction. We’re still working on the blueprints, actually. We tweaked some things offensively. We probably want to kind of go back to some of the things that we were doing a few weeks ago in terms of some of the spots I’m in on the floor and things like that.”*

Mike Brown added, “There’s a lot right now [to be fixed on offense]. We have a better feel, a decent feel of what to do in terms of a second and third option when a play is getting a little out of whack, but we’re not quite there yet. Versus better defensive teams, it really shows because it’s not as fluid, it’s not as easy because they’re up in us and now you got guys up in you and it’s physical, and you may be thinking about something else as opposed to, ‘Hey, just continue to run the play. They took this option away; go to the next. This guy is here, so I need to move here so our spacing is right.'”*

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Phil Jackson’s triangle offense was so embedded into Bryant, Gasol, Fisher and Bynum’s mind that Brown’s style is affecting their approach to the game. For example, Gasol recently stated that he wanted to return to receiving more opportunities inside the paint instead of being rotated out to the perimeter, which is a little too far out of his comfort zone despite his ability to make outside jumpers.

Total blame does not belong to Mike Brown and his offensive philosophy. He is not Phil Jackson and he didn’t have the time to teach his approach to the players due to the lockout and a two-week training camp, where there was too many distractions with trades. In fact, before Tuesday, the Lakers had yet to have a full-contact practice since the start of the regular season. Yet, with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers getting older, time is of the essence. Things need to change now.

Yes, a trade for Deron Williams would pave the way for the Lakers to reach the NBA Finals for the fourth time in five years, but to regain the status of world champions once again the Laker offense must make a change. To do this, they must return to basics. Everyone has heard of the motto, “play to your strengths.” Now is the time for the Lakers to do just that.

Let’s begin with the starting roster.

Next Page: Dissecting Each Player’s Strengths

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