Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Do you think the Lakers finally have hit rock bottom?
Steve Aschburner: Rock bottom in the standings? Yes, yes I do. I can’t see the Lakers falling below 11th in the Western Conference, their perch as of Wednesday morning. But rock bottom by record? Hey, it’s possible they could wind up worse than six games under .500, their low mark (15-21) so far. And rock bottom emotionally? Very possible, in a dozen different ways. Maybe it’s Kobe Bryant or Steve Nash breaking down with a season-snuffing injury. Maybe Dwight Howard goes Hamlet on a second team for a third consecutive season, pondering his whims and wherabouts. Maybe the Lakers trade Pau Gasol and things get worse. Or maybe it hits them all hardest on the night they’re mathematically blocked from a playoff berth.
Fran Blinebury: Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead. (Kids, ask your parents.)
Jeff Caplan: I do, really. No way they could get any lower, right? Look, the bottom line is that Steve Nash, the orchestrator of coach Mike D’Antoni‘s offense, missed the first two months of the season. Dwight Howard hasn’t been the same athletically because of his back. Pau Gasol has now missed two stretches of games with injuries. The bench is weak and was made weaker by the injuries. Steve Blake could actually return and help some. But recently D’Antoni also said he plans to get Pau positioned more on the low block where he belongs. That’s a great start, a show that maybe D’Antoni can bend and can wrap his system around his players instead of the other way around. There’s just too much talent and pride on that team to go down in flames without a serious effort to get back into playoff contention.
Scott Howard-Cooper: Yes. And every time I have said that before the last few months, I have been proven wrong. I would have thought the first couple weeks was rock bottom. Or that night in New York, when the Knicks scored 68 in the first half. Or that six-game losing streak that just ended. That has to be it. That has to be rock bottom. (Uh-huh.)
John Schuhmann: Yeah, I don’t think things are going to get worse than a six-game losing streak in which their defense allowed 110 points per 100 possessions. I don’t think that home wins over the Cavs and Bucks indicate that they’re back on track to make the playoffs, but there have been some signs of defensive improvement and I think the worst is behind them. Thursday’s game against the Heat and the three-game trip that follows will obviously be a challenge. If they can win two of those four games, it will be clear that they’re making progress internally, even if they’re not making progress in the standings.
Sekou Smith: No. Rock bottom is the Lakers sitting outside of the top eight in the Western Conference standings in mid-April. Then and only then will it sink in around Lakerland that this team is scraping the bottom. Even now, with all of the mounting evidence against their chances of simply making the playoffs, there are those who continue to believe that the Lakers will somehow miraculously recover from the mess that has been the first two and a half months of their season. Their fairy tale ends with the No. 8 seed Lakers defying the odds and winning a title and shutting all of their haters up with a confetti-filled scene on the last night of the season in Miami or New York. Must be fun to live in that land of make believe.