Grading The Lakers’ Grade


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Hang Time CEO Sekou Smith, during NBA TV’s midseason review that aired last week, took issue with my call to give the Lakers a C-minus for the first half of the season. That’s fine. I will defend his right to have an opinion. However wrong it may be.

The grade is fair, with the understanding that one person’s C-minus can be another person’s D-plus and another’s C. There is also the explanation that marks were given on the actual performance, not based on any preseason expectations. (What? The Bobcats, Hornets, Magic and Kings should have gotten Cs or even Bs because they are playing as well as most predicted?)

On expectations, the Lakers obviously get an F. They might get the biggest F in league history. Heck, make it a G.

But on play, putting them somewhere between below average and poor is accurate. Bad play, to be sure, not even average. But certainly not the total breakdown of a team-wide failure.

Consider:

  • The Lakers were sixth in the league in offensive rating through Jan. 22, the stop date for statistics on the grades for all 30 teams. They are far ahead of the curve, even with the starting point guard (Steve Nash) and the backup (Steve Blake) out for long stretches with injury. Even with Dwight Howard playing at less than 100 percent while dealing with injuries. Even with the change of gears in the coaching move from Mike Brown to Mike D’Antoni.
  • Howard has not played at a Howard-esque level and he has brought out the Dwightmare memories, before apologizing and saying he would be all about the team. But he could finish in the top five in the league in rebounds, blocks and shooting while averaging 16 and 12. Any center not named Dwight Howard would be rolling toward first-team All-NBA by acclimation. This is about his past, in behavior and the high standards that turn good numbers into a letdown.
  • Kobe Bryant is still a star. Nash has played well on offense in limited time. The backcourt raises the grade.

The bench has been bad and D’Antoni as coach has been a bad fit, and both got Ds. (My explanation under the Coaching category: “D’Antoni can coach. He just can’t coach this team with this up-tempo system. That’s on management – Jerry Buss, Jim Buss, Mitch Kupchak – more than D’Antoni, who obviously wasn’t going to turn the job down. But the grade for a bad fit falls on D’Antoni.”) The defense has been bad and got a C-minus, saved by the fact that the Lakers are about average on defensive rebounding. If there was one place to hit them harder in retrospect, it would have been with a D on defense.

26 Comments

  1. kobeng Burat!!! says:

    kobe facilitator??? For how long??? Post again after the lakers played in South Beach… kobe will be back on his true nature…. DWADE will put him on his position… last game kobe ave. was awful… He’s been guarded by DWADE most of the time… Then LBJ marks him within 5 mins of the game…. Dwade and LBJ got higher points and higher FG% than kobe… The question is ,can he still make plays/facilitator while DWADE or LBJ marking him????

  2. darko says:

    Kobe finally gets his role as facillitator; Gasol as high to Dwight’s low post suits both their evolutions: Nash is still clutch offensively, but he just can’t play lock-down D at game’s end, when a younger opponent wants it, wants to win. Other than the 3 point guards the potential is there for a good defensive team- given that WorldPeace buys in and Clark and Meeks keep learning. Jamison will have to work harder on D too. If they keep plugging maybe they can get even the 7th seed. Wow wouldn’t that be something?

  3. XTian says:

    Why not fire D’Antoni and then make Kobe or Nash a playing coach? :-P

    That way players respect the coach. The problem with teams that have big egos is if a coach cannot control the egos. Look at Phil…he was able to control MJ & Pip and Shaq & Kobe.

    Spo is holding firm with the big three although sometimes shaky.

    Doc is also good at managing his players.

    The best is Pop.

    • Eaglos says:

      Bryant as a coach = him shooting around 80-90 shots while having
      the rest of the team applauding. It’s bad as it is right now with him
      shooting bricks, let’s not make it even worse.

  4. hunter9734 says:

    The Los Angeles Lakers made a terribly bad decision by getting all these superstars…. and half of the critics of the lakers now look like geniuses when it really wasnt that hard to predict… obviously Dwight Howarde Nash’s numbers were gonna go down do to the fact that they arent the face of there franchise anymore…. they dont get the same type of respect and dont have the same demand for the basketball then kobe

  5. TrueBalls says:

    SEKOU SMITH IS A KOBE HATER! His posts are always either against him or the Lakers. NBA should not let him write biased blogs about the Lakers. We all know they are suffering this season, but those grades were 70% unfair.

  6. dattebayo says:

    MWP’s suspension makes me wish for extra suspensions for repeat offenders like him. The 2nd suspension is automatically 1 more game, the third suspension is 2 more games and so on, on top of the actual penalty. That way these suspensions actually mean something and have a significant impact. Obviously, MWP will continue to have these incidents, if he just has to sit out one game as a consequence.

    Oh and yeah, for a self-made wannabe title contender, that claimed to come out of the West this season, it’s unacceptable to be 4 games below .500 and out of the playoffs after 48 games into the season. Grade F!

  7. Troglodyte says:

    Most important Grade:

    Management: F-

  8. kobeng Burat!!! says:

    @Sea Pea
    howard A- ??? Great Numbers? where? so you forget that howard cost them a game when the MAGIC keep fouling him? D
    kobe A+??? changing his game??? So why did they acquire Nash??? kobe just simply takes nash game away from him.. That’s Nash game… I wonder what Nash doing right now??? He can’t make a play because kobe handled the ball more than ever… C+
    Gasol C??? New system??? Gasol’s playing great even on limited minutes, Always the scape goat… B
    D’ Antoni D??? Whatever F-
    MWP B yes He’s still as stubborn as before…. Consistent winning or losing B
    Bench B??? Funny….. F……………

    Final Grade B- or Strong C+ really??? Where are they now????? 10th spot out of 15…. F- or G!!!!

    • SaYO says:

      your pretty much just drawing out the negative, leaving out positives
      lol you do realize when nash came back from injury.. lakers were still struggling -__-
      than kobe became facilitator, nash shot better, the team became better

  9. purpngold says:

    The problem the team has been facing all season long is BAD COACHING. Finally, the players are taking over the game plan and figuring out a winning strategy. This is something DAntoni does not know how to institute. As long as he stays out of the way and keeps his run and gun system in the closet, the Lakers will be fine. They are getting more familiar playing to their strengths and getting better. It’s just a matter of time before they become what the expectations predicted.

  10. Kamote says:

    yada yada…

  11. Lance says:

    *except

  12. Lance says:

    LOL Defensive Coach? Look what happened to defensive-minded Brown hahahahahaha.

    I’m not defending D’Antoni he’s a terrible coach for this core group the Lakers have; it’s just that what can the Lakers do expect to just play? You can’t blame it all on the coach, it’s also how the players respond.

  13. GCast says:

    I don’t like Sekou Smith, for a number, um, a lot of reason.

  14. cp10 says:

    Bring in Jeremy Lin

  15. bryan says:

    lakers needs to change the coach its very obvious that the system its not working they need a defensive coach that can utilize their strengths Pau and Howard their bigs

  16. Chester says:

    Why always the lakers? 29 other teams need more exposure

    • TrueBalls says:

      Because the Lakers are a big franchise that’s why most people talk about their failures because they are expected to be with one of the top teams in the NBA this season.

  17. steppx says:

    D’Antoni simply isnt a good coach. If a coach cant adjust to his roster……find ways to make it work and maximize his player’s strengths, then he ISNT a good coach.

    d Antoni is not a good coach, and never has been.

    Popovich has altered his philosophy through the years depending on personel. Another bad move by Buss …..two bad hires on two seasons.

    • Lakersfan4ever says:

      The only one that has FAIL in the team is MIKE D”ANTONI and he grades an F+. no one else.

  18. Sea Pea says:

    Dwight A- for getting great numbers with a bad back.
    Kobe A+ for doing whatever he can to win even changing his game.
    Gasol C- for not being able to adjust to the new system.
    D’Antoni D- for not being able to adjust the new system or coach it.
    Ron Artest B- for staying on his meds and playing well.
    Bench B for playing better than expected but expectations were reall really low.

    That comes out to be about a weak B- or a strong C+

    • lolwut says:

      Artest is playing pretty good defense (obviously) but he seems to be shooting too much IMO.
      Last 4 games were terrible to watch him shoot, especially against the Suns. He missed a lot of wide open 3 pointers when Kobe dished it out to him.