Alright, let’s get this out of the way. The Lakers absolutely suck right now. Dwight Howard, still recovering from his back injury, is fluky at best. Pau Gasol is having the worst season of his illustrious career. Kobe, is still being Kobe, making some incredible shots, but also causing a lot of turnovers due to his recent play at point guard. And speaking of point guard, the Lakers are relying heavily on Steve Nash to return from injury, part the ocean, and take the Lakers-dom to the promised land.
But whether or not you’re a Lakers fan, there is one thing that holds true since the beginning of the NBA. You can never count out the Lakers. When the Lakers Three first got together this offseason, it seemed they were destined to win the Finals this year. And this prediction could still turn into reality.
There is still a lot of time left. When the Miami Three first got together, their record after 15 games was 8-7. The Lakers are currently sitting at 7-8, but unlike the Miami Heat, the Lakers have had to deal with Howard’s back injury, and Steve Nash’s fractured fibula in the second game of the year. Miami’s Three stayed healthy for most of their inaugural year together.
The Lakers struggled to learn Mike Brown‘s Princeton offense, which eventually led to Brown’s firing, and the Lakers are struggling to run new coach Mike D’antoni’s fast paced offense without a good point guard. When Erik Spoelstra couldn’t win with the Heat, rumors were rampant for a replacement, but the Heat, after posting a dismal 8-7 record, started on a 12 game winning streak 2 games later to propel them into the top Eastern Conference standings and eventually a loss in the Finals.
So the main problem bugging the Lakers is not their shoddy defense, or their unproductive bench, or even Pau Gasol; the main problem is time. They haven’t had enough time with coaches, or with each other to really embrace their full potential. When Nash gets back, he will penetrate the paint, and scatter the defense, while surgically dishing out dimes to his teammates. By using his mastery of the pick-and-roll, he’s going to turn a fluky Howard to a consistent Howard, and he’s going to force Pau Gasol to move his feet and become dominant once again. And all this activity is going to leave Kobe and Metta World Peace wide open, which is going to cause a huge amount of rainfall in Southern California.
But the Lakers are not Steve Nash’s team. It is Kobe Bryant’s team. And Kobe has won the Finals without the Steve Nashs, or the Dwight Howards, and if his strong play from the beginning of this season is any indication, Kobe will do it again. But then again, the Lakers are not really Kobe’s team either. The Lakers are owner Jerry Buss‘ team. This is the same Jerry Buss that built one of the greatest teams in all of sports, and the same Jerry Buss that brought Nash, Howard, and Kobe into the same uniform this offseason. You seriously think this Jerry Buss guy is willing to stake that much money and reputations so the Lakers could have a lackluster season? Didn’t think so.
Lakers fans should expect some surprising trades from the Buss family in the next couple weeks, which will bolster their defense or bench, or both. Fans should expect a legit title run this year. And don’t forget where you heard it first: The Lakers will go on a ten-game winning streak in either December or January.