Here we are, three games into the regular season and nothing going like we expected. An 0-3 record, one we haven’t had since 1978. An offense that doesn’t seem to be working despite a starting lineup resembling an All-Star team. Mediocre defense that has given up 100+ points in two of the three games. A starter already benched due to injury… Who would’ve thought?
We expected this team to come out from day one and dominate. A star-strutted roster assured us we could take down anyone in the league. Some deemed us the best team in the league before they ever saw the team in action. There were talks of breaking the Bulls’ 72-10 record.
But three games in, and everyone seems to be in panic mode.
Keep in mind that this Lakers team consists of only seven returning players from last season. Training camp began in October, so our current roster has been together for a month now. It’s true they played eight preseason games, but preseason basketball comes nowhere near the regular season in terms of intensity and competition. Add the fact that Dwight Howard sat out most of the preseason and barely began participating in contact drills during practice, and you’ll see that players have had little time playing with one another, building chemistry, and learning how their teammates operate.
Our team has looked sloppy and confused on the court, still getting used to the Princeton offense. They’ve turned the ball over an average of 19.67 times through three games, and they’ve been very slow on getting back on defense.
And injuries surely don’t make the process any easier. Steve Nash already missed a game, Dwight is still recovering from his back surgery, and Kobe is playing through a right foot injury (surprised?).
Let me tell you something you surely don’t want to hear, Nation: it’s going to take time!
It’s going to take time for the team to build chemistry. It’s going to take time for the players to get used to the new offense. And it’s definitely going to take time for Kobe, Dwight, and Nash to be 100%.
With all that being said, the new players, the offense, the young season are not excuses. Every regular season loss can affect home court advantage in the playoffs. We’re three losses in, currently holding the worst record in the league.
Although we shouldn’t panic just yet, we should be worried. Everything can fall into place with time, but like Kobe said, the players have to make sure they keep a sense of urgency. They got a clean slate after an 0-8 preseason, but every game counts from here on out.
We already saw glimpses of what this team can do in Portland last Wednesday: Dwight finding a cutting Kobe for a dunk, a Dwight block leading to a Kobe dunk on the other end, and the lob from Pau to Dwight.
The pieces are all there, and this team has enough experienced veterans to make it through this slump.
For now, breathe. We’ll get there.