Why the Lakers won’t get past the first round of the 2012 Playoffs.

 Kobe Bryant explained earlier in the year that he already knew the Lakers new offence, just weeks after Brown had been appointed as Coach. I thought this was incredibly impressive before realising that their offence consisted of just 3 plays.
1)   Isolation of Kobe Bryant.
2)   A post up of Gasol or Bynum.
3)   An erratic, low percentage shot by any other Laker.
 Furthermore, these plays appear at the same times of each game. The Lakers usually lead at the end of the 1st quarter and that is for one simple reason- they consistently run their offence through Bynum and Gasol in the paint. The ‘twin-towers’ as they are known both have over 50% shooting for the season where as Kobe only has 44%.(10 for 24). The one flaw with this is how Bynum still has no idea what to do when he gets double-teamed. He undoubtedly does. This means Kobe feels more need to take the game into his own hands. It seems insane when the Lakers are the 3rd best NBA team in the paint with an efficiency rating of 8.6 yet Gasol/Bynum average just 12 shots a game.
 The second quarter of an NBA game sees bench players run the floor. The Lakers are rated 25th in the league (out of 30) in bench efficiency. They manage just 20 points on average a game. The lowest in the entire league.
The end of the 3rd and whole of the 4th quarter regularly see Kobe (whom I love) try and beat the other team by himself. Yes, he has started passing more, but when you’re passing to Jason Kapono, Troy Murphy and Steve Blake you probably won’t see positive results. This gives Kobe even more of a reason to try and win the game by himself.
 Since the loss of Lamaar Odom, it has become more obvious that the Lakers need more players to end in double figures. Kobe, Gasol and Bynum are the only 3 who can, but they only average around 60 points between them each game. The franchise have achieved their lowest Points per Game average for over 50 years with 92 points. When Phil Jackson was Coach, this number was 3 digits. This can be related to their current 3 point percentage per game – 28%. Against Boston the other night, Fisher went 0-7 from downtown. Against New York, Steve Blake went 1-8. Against Charlotte, Kobe went 2-11. Jason Kapono was signed this year specifically for his 3 point shot. Currently he holds a 33% record from behind the arc.
 Even Gasol was practising 3′s in the off season. He claims he wouldn’t leave a training session without making 10 in a row. Furthermore he claims he made 25 in a row.
Gasol is a post and paint player. He is not an outside shooter. His length is what gets him double figure rebounds. The fact that the Lakers sometimes look for Gasol on the 3 point line show how they are simply running out of idea. Also, with Kobe Bryant running out of time on the clock of time, I can only worry for the Lakers.
 The Lakers have almost all the puzzle. Bynum is now an all-star. Gasol is the best technical power-forward in the league. And for all his faults, Kobe, is still Kobe. He passes more and the fact he went four games in a row of scoring over 40 points with a torn tendon in his shooting wrist speaks for itself.
 All that is left is finding a semi-decent small forward and a facilitator. The SF must score in double figures consistently. Ron Artest, sorry, ‘Mettaaaaaaa World PEACE!’ is a shell of the former player he was. He averaged over 15 points a game at his old clubs and was voted defensive player of the year in 2004. Furthermore he has the physical frame to manage defending players like LeBron James and Paul Pierce.
 Derek Fisher is one of my all time favourite players. The fact that he has played almost 550 consecutive games in the NBA speaks for itself and his body shows all the hard work he puts in. However, he is not athletic enough to run the floor for 35 minutes a night. Especially with this shortened season. Players like Rose, Paul, Rondo, Rubio, even Nash- they all draw in players when they drive in because they are good enough to shoot in traffic and are quick enough to break down strong defensive players. This open up free players on the perimeter as defenders are drawn into the paint. Nash and Rubio are masters of doing this and then executing a perfect pass and always finding an open man with an easy shot. I can only dream of what the Lakers would be like if the NBA hadn’t declined the Chris Paul transfer.
 On top of all of this, we must remember that their coach is Mike Brown. Someone that couldn’t handle LeBron at Cleveland. Someone that said Kobe can do what he wants after he went 2 games of shooting 20% games. Someone that got ejected from a game and then consequently banned for one more for complaining about the lack of foul being called on Gasol…..when it was a clean steal.
 I am a Lakers fan and it pains me to write all this. I still don’t think you can ever write them off. Fisher and Bryant are two of the most clutch players in the game at the moment. Finally, with Gasol and Bynum playing as they are, they can surely only get better.

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