In some corners of Laker Nation, the first week of the NBA season has been one filled with confusion, disappointment, and, most of all, panic. From the Lakers 1-3 start, to Mike Brown’s shaky rotations, to Steve Nash’s role in the offense and suddenly significant injury, there has been plenty to over-analyze about the Lakers star-studded team.
In a season that has six more months until the real, meaningful Laker games, the one question that keeps popping into my mind is: why stress? Why are we so worried about a slow start out of the gate in what really amounts to season-long marathon? There are plenty of reasons that Laker Nation has a long, long time before hitting the panic button is necessary.
It’s the first week of the season.
There are a lot of bloggers, sports anchors and radio personalities making the first four games of the season seem like the end of the world for the Lakers. Huh? The Lakers have 78 more games before we can truly judge how the regular season went, and about 25 more playoff games after that until we know if this season was a failure or a success. There are going to be some weeks where the Lakers go 1-3, but I’m willing the bet there are going to be a lot more 4-0 weeks. With a roster as overhauled as the one the Lakers trotted out on opening night, there is going to be a learning curve as guys adjust to each other. Speaking of adjustments…
The roster needs time to gel before we know how good it is.
When you add a former two-time MVP, a 3-time Defensive Player of the Year and a former Sixth Man of the Year to your roster, you can’t expect it to turn out like a game of NBA 2K13. There has to be time for guys to adjust to one another, to understand what you can expect from a guy in a certain situation, and to really figure out what works best for your line-up. In their first season together, the Miami Big Three started 9-8 and struggled all season figuring out what to do with Lebron and D-Wade in crunch time before figuring it out in last year’s playoffs. Stars don’t automatically equal success, but I think Kobe put it best when he said:
The reality is that when you have talented players that are willing to sacrifice their games and play within the structure, to go along with talent they have individually, it makes you unstoppable.
This team is just too talented to struggle for an entire season, eventually you have to believe they are going to figure it out.
The bench isn’t as bad as you think, and the roster isn’t completely set in stone.
The Laker bench is in a very similar situation to the Laker starters. There are new pieces on the roster such as Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks, and young guys getting more minutes than ever before such as Darius Morris and Jordan Hill. There is going to be an adjustment period for each player getting accustomed to their teammates. This isn’t the same Laker bench as last season though. There is plenty of talent there, and like the starting five, they will eventually play up to expectations.
There is also the fact that there are a few free agent players still available that could change the bench completely. Guys like Delonte West and Kenyon Martin have been linked to the Lakers in rumors already (like every other free agent ever) and additions of players of their caliber would automatically make the Laker bench stronger. Of course there are contracts and roster spots that need to be moved and opened up before adding more players, but contenders are always signing veterans towards the end of the season. Once the playoffs start, you could be looking at a completely different bench than what we’re seeing on the court now.
We haven’t seen the real Steve Nash yet.
Through the first two games, many people were shocked to see Steve Nash walk the ball up the court and then go stand in the corner waiting. We’re used to seeing Nash as a wizard on the court turning guys like Jared Dudley into legitimate threats. What we’ve seen so far is equivalent to someone buying a Ferrari and driving it 25 mph all day. Mike Brown has never been an offensive coach, and he is struggling a bit with Nash’s role. The quick fix to this of course is to let Nash run as much as possible, and when there isn’t anything there on the fast-break he can pull it back and run the offense. I understand the need to run the offense and let players get used to it, but you have to believe that sooner rather than later Brown will realize that his biggest advantage is letting Nash be Nash, which will take the Lakers offense to another level. More importantly, it will minimize the opponents opportunities to beat the Lakers on the fast-break.
The only win-loss record that matters is in the postseason.
We all love to see the Lakers rip off 65 win seasons, take the 1-seed and really look great all season long. What a lot of people forget is that of the Lakers five title teams, they were the top seed out West only three times. Finishing at the top of the conference doesn’t make you a title team, what really matters is how well you are playing heading into the postseason. Back in 2001-2002, the Lakers struggled all season before ripping of eight straight wins to finish the regular season and then going 15-1 in the most dominant playoff run of all-time. At the end of the day, whether its a 1-seed or a 4-seed, all the really matters to the Lakers is getting 16 wins in the playoffs. After all, Laker Nation measures success by titles, not regular season wins.
To sum it all up Laker fans, as hard as it may be to see the team struggle early, we all need to take a collective deep breath. Let things play out and enjoy the ride. We will know exactly how good this team is once the postseason rolls around.