The Los Angeles Lakers (4-67) have to make moves? How can LeBron James, Magic Johnson and Luke Walton straighten out the path? And how good is this team at its highest level?
Our NBA experts answer the big questions surrounding the Hollywood team.
1. What is the biggest conclusion you made after the first 10 games played by the Lakers?
Kevin Arnovitz, ESPN: We can talk about sumptuous intrigues, or if a group of veterans with one-year contracts could empathize with LeBron and the boys, but the truth is that, despite all the pomp and the attractive Lakers' stars, they win and they lose basketball games in the same way as the rest of the league teams. And the Lakers are losing basketball games right now because they play an indifferent defense style and are relentlessly overcome in the glass.
Chris Herring, FiveThirtyEight: That his horrible defense, last season in twelfth position in defensive efficiency, but now in 23rd place, is putting too much pressure on his attack, which is still trying to figure out exactly how to operate with the best player in the game. world in its ranks. This includes James himself, who was not active enough on the defensive side of the court. It is too similar to the Cleveland Cavaliers of last year, who were struggling to keep their heads out of the water because of their bad defense. Tyson Chandler, at this stage of his career, will not be able to solve it.
Tim Bontemps, ESPN: I will betray and say two conclusions: they are the funniest team in the NBA and I am exactly what I expected to see from them. They have a lot of interesting and particular personalities, a lot of drama, fast paced and a terrible defense, which results in many closed games and a high score. Although it is also a team with many new pieces that require time to get involved, then seeing them below .500 after 10 games is not surprising. And with the way his roster was built, a team located near 10 on offense and one of the 10 worst defenses seems appropriate.
André Snellings, ESPN Fantasy: The Lakers have a lot of talent and they need to understand how that talent can be penetrated. The way this team was armed during the off season was always interesting. The Lakers have surrounded James with pure bases that do not have good baskets, talent and longuette that naturally play the position of James and a giant who plays a secondary role, but who is not able to extend the space on the field. Despite this, when they do things well with their dizzying pace and manage to score, this team has a formidable, if not terrifying, potential against most Western Conference teams.
Kevin Pelton, ESPN: Not that I was surprised, but the internal expectations were too high with a Lakers roster suffering from structural failures. Despite the patience preached by James, Johnson's criticism of Walton behind closed doors suggests that he was unable to understand the failings of the armed team by Johnson himself and his general manager Rob Pelinka this year, which could not be contender in the West, regardless of the coach.
2. Which sentence is more true?
A. The Lakers must make a big move.
B. The Lakers must maintain patience.
Snellings: B. They could try to put together a more traditional roster with James in the lead, with the spellcasters in each position, keep the talented giant Julius Randle and have made a greater effort trying to win here and now. On the contrary, they held their young people, opened the space inside the salary cap for the next offseason and incorporated veterans with one-year contracts. Now, they have to develop their youth, qualify for the playoffs and prepare to add a star during the offseason to be contending next season.
Arnovitz: B. Making a move that substantially modifies the franchise after Game 10 of the 328 under which LeBron James promised to stay with the Lakers would be an act of desperation and impulsiveness. The management has decided to bet on its young nucleus, probably because the leaders believe that, over time, they can empathize with James, or change them if they can not. Unless there is an opportunity for the Lakers who can give them an accurate chance to fight in a series of seven games against the Golden State Warriors and solidify them ahead of the future, what would the point be, then ?
Bontemps: This seems like an easy exit to a bribe, but the question could be solved in both ways, depending on expectations. If they think the Lakers should be able to make a good run for the playoffs (for example, reach the finals of the Western Conference), then it would be better for them to make an important move to incorporate talents because, just as they are armed today, they are the same team that would be about to go to the play-offs, which we saw at the start of the campaign. If they believe the Lakers have to see what they have in their young nucleus, they should be patient and see the level they have, as well as who they empathize with James. I go for the last option, as my expectations for them were lower than those of the majority.
Pelton: B. None of the problems faced by the Lakers has so far surprised. Between his young talent and the space within the salary cap for 2019, the best version of the Lakers has yet to come. Therefore, they should make a move only if it helps their future in the medium to long term, instead of exaggerating to try and recover their 2018-19 campaign.
Herring: B. First of all, I think many of us expected to see them with problems at the beginning. Apart from their terrible performance in the game on Sunday night, they were competitive against high quality teams. Johnson himself has indicated that James's teams are characterized by a slow start; Therefore, this situation does not seem to be different, especially with young colleagues. If they really wanted to shake things up in this very early part of the season, why not bet big in the summer and try it out? Impatience would make more sense then than now, in my opinion.
3. Truth or fiction: the Lakers need LeBron to produce the greatest impact
Bontemps: Here the same theory as the previous case applies. Is LeBron James playing with his best effort? No. Although he is about to turn 34 and has accumulated almost a billion kilometers in his body. It will not go full speed in November. At the same time, James can not turn a team of players with bad shots into scorecards, players who can not defend the defenders and can not add one or two competent men 7 feet tall that the Lakers, for some reason, could not hire quest & # 39; summer. Something he can do, and should, is play a pin at a given time. But he would never do it and the Lakers were aware of it.
Arnovitz: Quite right? The man has an average of 27 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists. Despite this, James is in 13th place in the average; He has never been in the top 10 in this category since his beginner season. It's something interesting, because it's not exactly the Heat of the 2010-11 season, when he played with many teammates able to dominate the ball. Therefore, unless another member of the roster can become a strong point of high production, high efficiency and creation, the Lakers will need something more. Now, where they could really use James's support, it's on the defensive. The new Lakers complex in El Segundo is full of interesting things, but there is no time machine.
Herring: Truth. The initial and rather noisy statistics of the net rating (which show that the Lakers have improved by 11.5 points per 100 possessions when LeBron is out of range) tell us to a certain extent. The offense will improve, but will have to do something more defensive, where it tends to slow down, especially in situations of defensive transition. I wrote about the reputation that must fall back and sometimes choose to act or not, which is understandable considering everything that makes the offensive. But the Lakers play at an overwhelming pace and seem to pay a higher price than the rest when one or two of their players do not contribute to the defense.
Pelton: Of course, they could aspire to see something more this season. James 'media assistance has dropped dramatically and while it may be intentional, considering the Lakers' intention to use it more to finish the games, instead of the creator who was in Cleveland, this does not translate into better efficiency. We add his incoherent defensive effort and James, until now, has been less efficient than any previous point in the last decade. Of course, a better production of James would make the Lakers a formidable team.
Snellings: Probably, the Lakers will be a better team in the long run if James does not try to take everything to get them on his shoulders as far as possible. They do not have enough talent this season to compete with the best teams in the NBA and this has been clear from the start. If James wears Superman's cape and ends up taking over the reins of the team, the Lakers could win some other game, but these young players would not develop as much as they need. In order for this team to be able to compete vigorously, its young talents must take on a greater load of responsibility.
4. Who is the second best player of L.A.?
Pelton: JaVale McGee was his second best player so far, providing the protection and hoop activities he needed so much while finishing all around the basket. In the long run, I still think Lonzo Ball is his second best player, especially considering the improvement he has shown as a tripler.
Snellings: Right now, probably McGee or Rajon Rondo. Both veterans have demonstrated the ability to be effective in assigned roles. However, the Lakers need this answer to come from their group of young boys. Rondo's success seems to come at the expense of Ball, who is a different player when Rondo is not available. Kyle Kuzma was the most effective offensive of the young, able to shoot and score effectively when James is not. Brandon Ingram's first progress was atrophized by suspension. Some parts of that trio have to take a step forward.
Arnovitz: Ingram. He is still developing his creativity, and many of his impulses are dripping attacks in a straight line. But there are many games there and a long athletic structure to push it, and the Lakers could also use it to strengthen their side defense. They also need Ingram triplichi near the 39% that he delivered last season, and to write them in a larger volume.
Herring: In terms of performance? I can not believe to say it, but it was probably McGee. It was a bright spot, playing most minutes in years, at both ends of the field. (The fact that the Lakers moved to sign Chandler was not an accusation against McGee, but the acceptance that they need someone who can get close to what they do in the 20 minutes McGee pauses) . However, as the season progresses, I think Ingram or Ball will become the second best player on the team. This development would be good for the long-term team.
Bontemps: Most of the answers to this question probably include Ingram, Ball or Kuzma. My, however, is Josh Hart. He is the best defender of the team (look how he widens in the post – you can not move it), a good trespasser and a perfect match with James because he does not need the ball in his hands. I will bring it to my team every day.
5. How good is the best version of this equipment?
Herring: I guess the Lakers will stretch when they reach six or seven consecutive wins, if not more. But unless the defense does not recover, or the offense really starts to get even worse, it's hard to imagine the Lakers winning 50 or more games this season. This would presumably leave them as a marginal team of play-offs, fighting for one of the last two or three suits. The reality is: this is how this team should be. Something deficient in the shot. Defended defensively when it turns on. Things will improve over time. But according to those who came out and signed, we should expect these results to this point.
Arnovitz: 52-30. The Lakers children have managed to put together a twelfth defense last season, so it is not out of their reach to find a scheme that can improve their position. If the players in the perimeter can move 39-40 percent from the bow, the multiple creators of the roster circle the defenders every night, and James can put together an unearthly performance that can bring a game to the 10th victory column. 12 times from now to April, it is feasible. But a regular dose of what we have seen against Toronto on Sunday, and they are not close.
Bontemps: A first exit in the round while the junior team has sown. The Lakers are not as good as Warriors, Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets or Utah Jazz, at least. This leaves their roof as the fifth seed or worse, and, in turn, makes them go out in the first round. If they can survive the tangle of West teams struggling for one of those final places in the playoffs is another story. One thing to keep in mind in this sense: McGee was easily better than anyone could have reasonably expected until now. Yet even with that factor, the Lakers are under the .500 and quite badly on the defensive. Every time the game comes back, as many listeners expect you to do, be careful.
Snellings: This current team still has a potential of 55 wins if everything is equipped. The Lakers make sure that the athletes play fast and with Chandler joining the group, they must have a solid guardian and a rebounder in the field as much as they want to help start the break. The youth will improve when it comes to adapting their talents to James, and clearly he still has another team when the team needs him to pick it up. They are not the Warriors or the best version of the Rockets, but the Lakers could compete with everyone else in the West.
Pelton: There were times when the Lakers looked like a team with 50 wins to win a series in the first round in the Western Conference. Despite the limited shots, they exert a lot of pressure on the circle to be able to create good shooting attempts on the offensive midfield. The question is whether the Lakers can support the defensive effort needed to reach that level, which we have only seen in short periods, and exclusively with McGee in the field. We'll see if Chandler helps you in the last count. I'm skeptical