Preseason Overreactions: Lakers 360˚

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Updated: October 13, 2021
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At least when they went down 0-4 for the first stack of games in the preseason, all of Los Angeles (and maybe rightfully so) said, “no worries, our big 3 haven’t touched the floor together yet.” And considering how Lebron James operates in Game 1’s of 7 game series, it would be a fool’s errand to put too much stock in how his squad looks in the preseason. He has, possibly more times than any other Hall of Famer in history, made his haters swallow their words. When he moved to Los Angeles and had the groin injury season next to the promising young Laker core, I quite confidently stated on the pod, “The title he won in Cleveland was his last.” So it is quite possible that the Lebron James we are watching now is playing possum with Father Time, but even the most delusional Lakers fan have to admit that after watching the 2nd unit Warriors bury their new big 3, there has to be at least a low-level of panic starting to brew underneath the surface of purple gold.

Yesterday was the first day that LA was to unwrap their new shiny sportscar, the Laker 360. They obviously wanted it to be a bit of an event since they decided to do it in Staples Center against Curry and Dray. But Steve Kerr, with some Zen-Phill-Jacksons Jedi mind tricks, sat Curry and Draymond and sent out a J-Poole + Wiggins + Otto Porter Jr. lineup. To put things in perspective, if those were the best 3 players on a team last year, it would have been one of the worst starting lineups in all of basketball.

The Warriors have been bombing opponents out of buildings with their 3-point barrages in this preseason, and if they’re going to shoot that on any given night it’s hard to not just swallow the L and wait for them to come back to earth on realistic percentages. But last night, not only did Curry, Dray, and Thompson not take the floor, the Lakers telecast boasted in the 3rd quarter that Warriors were shooting 13% from 3 on an ungodly number of attempts…and yet the score was tied.

Lakers fans have a tendency to want the milk and the cream. In the Bubble season, when they just brought in Davis and played the Warriors in the preseason (without Klay or Draymond), and obliterated their lack of size inside, they took more than a victory lap around Chase Center. Yet today, they want to downplay the losses and attribute them to the injuries and lack of chemistry. And yes, it is not the L that should be their concern, we all know that 4th quarters of the preseason are sacrificial lambs given to the rookies and washed-up vets…but Wiggins and Poole looked more than able to hold their own against Bron, Davis, and Westbrook, despite the fact that their only centers were Kevon Looney and Bjelica.

Westbrook is averaging almost as many turnovers as assists despite playing next to Anthony Davis. And the drama will begin to ferment when all the advanced metrics start to rise to the surface that the Rondo + AD minutes are not only better than the Russ + Davis minutes but that the prior is above average league-wide and the latter is one of the worst in the NBA. His jumper, not only from 3 but anywhere outside of 12 feet looks lowkey broken and if he and Giannis were to enter the 3 point contest at the All-Star break, I would love to see the Vegas Odds…

I liked their offseason free-agent signings for the fact that they really only needed a few of them to work out since they got so many gambles of these semi-washed vets. Unfortunately though, Ariza is out with surgy on the ankle for at least 2 months. They have tried to downplay it as a “minor surgery,” but there are no minor surgeries for 36-year-old bodies. It’s older than the life expectancy for the majority of human history, the minute you start to chop into it, it is a major event regardless the size of the incision. His whole value is based on his ability to cover top tiers wings…that will not be happening post ankle surgery.  

THT, the pride of Los Angeles, Talen Horton-Tucker just underwent thumb surgery and is supposed to be out at least a month. With his recent extension and now this injury, it has to draw some concerns. Anyone who has had thumb injuries knows, they are a life-long issue, and no procedure ever brings it back to 100 percent. Those are two players that many pods considered could be in their starting or closing rotations.

On top of that, they have Kendrick Nunn out with an ankle, Wayne Ellington out with the hamstring, and Malik Monk with the groin. Right now their most promising-looking wing is minimum signing Kent Bazemore, who was fighting for minutes in the bruised and battered Warriors rotation of last season. Hoodie Melo is properly washed, DeAndre Jordan will be unplayable in the post-season in nearly every match-up imaginable in the West, and Dwight is Dwight.

With the perfect storm accumulating momentum, Lebron James’ age is directly showing in his face and eyes. He looks like he’s in amazing shape, but the years are starting to show in places that the gym and supplements just can’t hide. They acquired Russ to burden the load in the regular season, but the way that it’s looking, he may become extra baggage that King James is forced to carry.

God forbid Davis gets injured any time during the season, because not only would they need to scrap and claw for every win in the West, the miles it would put on Bron’s shoulders would be determinantal to their title aspirations. Somehow they are still favorites to come out of the West according to Vegas and according to most of the pods even as this article is posted. Well, let me shine some light on the situation…regardless of what ESPN wants you to believe, it is not 75 degrees and sunny every day in Los Angeles.

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