Blogtable: Have The Lakers Improved?

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.

Week 19: Lakers: Any better? | Can Indiana beat Miami? | Underrated player on a title contender

Are the Lakers better or worse than they were a month ago? The same?

Steve Aschburner: The Lakers are better than they were simply by virtue of time spent together. No training camp with this coach, all those new faces/egos — that sort of thing requires a learning curve. Out of sheer familiarity they ought to be able to function a little better, which to me means snagging the No. 8 seed. But it’s small consolation for all that churning at the start and, in my view, we can already write off this Lakers season as a huge disappointment. It’s just not official yet.

Fran BlineburySlightly better, if only because they realize they’re running out of rope and have been playing with a little more sense of urgency, which has brought them together. But I believe it’s all still hanging by a thread and the tough finishing schedule might be too difficult to overcome.

Jeff Caplan: Well there’s no doubt that they are better. As John Schuhmann showed with advanced stats, the Lakers’ efficiency numbers haven’t changed much, but as Thunder coach Scott Brooks pointed out, the Lakers finally have gained some chemistry and continuity. Coach Mike D’Antoni said players have accepted their roles, accepted what’s going on with the team and that Dwight Howard is feeling better and better and Kobe Bryant is playing out of this world. Also, all the swirling drama from Day One has finally subsided and basketball is the main storyline for the first time all season. Sure, they still have issues such as transition defense and even putting a stamp on an offensive identity from game to game as Steve Nash noted less than two weeks ago. But, yes, this team is better.

Scott Howard-Cooper:  Better. I would say much better because they have been stacking wins for a change, except that the recovery has mostly come at the expense of lesser opponents. When they played the Thunder, the Nuggets, the Clippers and the Heat, the Lakers lost. But the wins have led to improved chemistry. There have been encouraging moments for the defense as well. But they won’t be different in an important way without wins over some bigger names.

John Schuhmann: Well, they’re better, because 13-6 is better than 17-25 and the defense has been slightly improved. But they’re not much better, as I wrote Tuesday. They’ve had more success in close games, which is somewhat arbitrary. They weren’t as bad as their record over their first 42 games, and they’re not as good as their record over their last 19. And they’re probably in for a dog fight over the last six weeks for that last playoff spot in the West.

Sekou Smith: I’m ignoring the advanced metrics and focusing on the numbers that matter in this case; wins and losses. They are basically the same today that they were on Feb. 6. The Lakers have handled the teams they should be able to handle, but they continue to come up short against the elite teams (see Oklahoma City Tuesday night). And I’m still not sure what anyone on the roster outside of Kobe Bryant will do down the stretch of the regular season. Kobe has made it clear that he’s going to drag this team into the playoffs, kicking and screaming if need be, and that he’s going to go as hard as he has to in order to make that happen. But even with all of his hard work the Lakers still haven’t shown me that they are the team we all thought they were when they added Steve Nash and Dwight Howard in the summer.


  1. hats off to the man kobe says:

    kobe has been playing the one of thebest balls in his career. i dont care what lebron is doing right know but never seen him do what kobe is doing for now , he maybe able to do it later in hisb career until that time kobe will be the best may not make the playoffs i really hope they do ,may make the playoffs and lose early rounds but i am positive no one will forget kobe bryants heartful predictions lakers will be the dark horse if they make the playoffs.go kobe and the lakers.

  2. CP403 says:


  3. mayo says:


  4. Big Al says:

    Obviously, die-hard Laker haters will say all the negative stuff. They have improved significantly. They managed to turn what would have been their most shameful loss to a win. It could have been a very big turn-off to be blown out by a team like the Hornets. They were down by as much as 25 points but had a 32-9 run in the fourth quarter to bag the much needed victory,

    To say that the purple and gold are the best team is unreal. But if everyone puts their hearts into it, then the Lakers can certainly beat anyone. Dwight needs to be a lot more serious, or at least show it if he claims that he’s not just fooling around. Metta has to work on his free throws as well, not as bad as Howard’s but still awful for an SF.

  5. gg says:

    Yea they improved but i think they still cant compete in the playoffs……. They need team chemistry and defense to compete other elite teams and WEST has great teams like Spurs, OKC, CLippers, unlike East..

  6. Jhob says:

    I believe compared to the first half of the season, they have improved, although not by leaps and bounds. So much improvement still needed in other aspects of their game like team defense and focus. Kobe will be Kobe, doing his thing, while others will have to focus with their role in this team. As a long time Lakers Fan, I have faith and belief in them that they can still manage to sneak into the playoffs, if they’ll continue playing as a team with a sense of urgency, And whoever they will be facing in the playoffs, will be facing a much better Lakers team altogether.

  7. zgillet says:

    The Lakers have definitely improved ever since Kobe became their coach.

  8. ylnhhh says:

    I totally agree with you awesomejohn. Well put.

  9. Tyron says:

    i think the lakers is goona to make the playoff playn so much better now kobe bryant ready and willing for tht spot for the playoff and the Lakers are my favorie team go Lakers and we goon to when the title

  10. Farzan sabzevari says:

    They obviously got better. All they needed was some team chemistry which is what they have now.

  11. Hector Gonzalez says:

    People forget who the Lakers are. It does not mean anything if they only make it to the 8th seat it does not mean they cannot compete with “Heat” or “OKC” or anyone else. I’m sure the Lakers will have 7th or even 6th seat in the playoffs the way they are playing now, of course it depends if jazz and Rockets record from now on as well. Lakers have been through a lot this season and no other NBA team would be able to do what they are doing now. Lakers are fighting harder and harder every day to prove and remind everyone what the Lakers are all about. The NBA is nothing without having Lakers in the playoffs. When the playoffs start hell will break loose and the Lakers will do some damage, and no one is going to sweep them out that’s a guarantee.

  12. Awesomejohn says:

    The superman heroics of Kobe Bryant are of epic proportions (you take it for granted now but you wiğll miss him when hes retired in two years) and something tells me that some historic games are on the way. Kobe is one of the best that ever played this game and he has that same deep pride and inner personal honor that drove MJ as well. Steve Nash is a perfect choice along side Kobe and his presence so far has had a great affect on both the lakers and Kobe. ITS SAD THAT BACK İNJURY OR NOT IT SEEMS THAT DWİGHT İS NOT THE PLAYER WE ALL HOPING HE WAS.. its not his back its his “focus” or lack there of… he has to forget everything and “LOVE his team” That may sound corny but its what makes championships…

    Keep your eyes on Kobe for some mind boggling moments to come… but I have a feeling he will inspire and lead the lakers to gel into a great team…. They are the most interesting team at the moment and have become my hearts underdog to go ALL THE WAY!

  13. bob says:

    i hope they dont make the playoffs and i hope dwight likes his new teammates that EVERYBODY WANTS , what kind of a person he become i cant believe

  14. Relist says:

    dj rgm9

    I hope you are joking with this “most injury plagued”. Can you tell me what would be the place of a team that has the following starting 5 for a full season – Rubio, Roy, Kirilenko, Love, Pekovic? I think they would be a top 4 western team. But playing with none to two guys from these five in the season till now costs. So don’t say Lakers are most injury disadvantaged team.

  15. knicks4days says:

    I agree with sportsfan. No team is good without chemisry. no matter how much talent the lakers have, the chemistrey issue is killing them. I mean, look at the knicks. when melo first joined the team, they were struggling to make the playoffs, but still did. even last year with the whole mike d’antonie situation. now look at them, their at the top of the eastern confrerence standings now that the chemistrey is good. but im not saying that this is the only problem. nash is old, gasol is injured, dwight just came off of a big surgery and is playing hurt. honestly, kobe is the only thing going for them right now. but once this is resolved, i think that the next season will be a good one for the lakers

  16. W/E says:

    Nope, they are still a joke compared to the elite teams, no matter if they miss the playoffs or not we know this team cant compete, thats y they have a losing record.

  17. sports fan says:

    Whether or not the Lakers have improved is completely meaningless. They won’t make the playoffs OR if they do then they’ll get bounced in the first round no matter who they play, no chance whatsoever in the playoffs. All of the elite teams have so much chemistry going for them and there’s no way a discombobulated Lakers team can overcome that. Talent is useless without chemistry and there’s no way the Lakers can develop high level chemistry in such a short period of time.

    • bunbury says:

      sports FUN. the only thing meaningless is your statement. how can it be meaningless that they have improved? is it meaningless then to have playoffs, if we know the Heat will win it? no one (I mean no one) predicted Dallas to win it two years ago. certainty is no word in sports, remember that. register it on your little brain, please!

  18. I don’t think tht they have improved they have gone down with alout of injuries………

  19. dj rgm9 says:

    Why many nba-fans d’ont understand Lakers situation,they still missing(long time)Gasol&Hill!!!The Lakers having the most injury plague hole season that’s a fact!With Gasol&Hill you have extra offencive&defence rebounds + scoring in the game we miss them a lot!Yesterdays game vs Thunder could be different maybe a win game when they playing with a complete roster against them!Thunder or Miami play mostly with a complete roster that’s why they still on top in the West&East they having a lucky year with no injurys on important players,that’s the reason they still on top and that’s also a fact!Many people disliking the Lakers but missing Lebron or Wade,Westbrook or Durant the outcome of standings conference would be much different than they are now!
    Go Lakers never give up!!!

  20. Vino Kulafu y Shuktong pamparegla ni kobe 24 says:

    Nope still the same lakers… I’m a big time HEAT fan…. When I heard the news that NASH HOWARD now in lakers… I thought they might lose Pau along with metta or Bynum with metta…. To see is to believe… Then I checked… It was a surprise because they do acquire NASH and Howard and still keping Pau Kobe and Metta… As a kobe hater, I thought they might contend in the WEST… with all that 72-10 record breaking from metta, all they break was the lakers bank… Sure Bynum maybe or a real BUST, But look at the lakers now… instead of fighting for the top spot, they are now crawling into battle for the last spot… comparing them to the 2010 HEAT team, MIAMI was much better because they become EAST CHAMPS, with no Center and true PG… Dampier, aging Bibby, Calos Aroyyo? where are those 3 that I mention??? they don’t play no more…. They BEAT the league MVP DROSE with much better rosters ASIK Watson Brewer, complete Celtics Rondo Allen Pierce Garnett But came up short Against MAVS with healthy Dirk,Kidd,Marion,Chandler,Terry,Barrea,West,Haywood…
    Have the lakers improve??? Nope they don’t 21 games left and they are still below .500 or stock in .500 look at the ROCKETS 1st year with Lin, 6th Man(OKC) Harden (now an allstar) and a bench Guy(Bulls) Asik ,But they are in 7th seed…

    • Mister 215 says:

      But you do understand that they are in the east….. The east has almost always been the weaker conference… Which was why they got ran down on in the finals that year.

  21. Game Time says:

    Lakers are better against regular teams now. As a title contending team they still have work to do and at this point I doubt they figure it out. They’ll make playoffs, but if it’s OKC in the 1st round you can be sure of a knockout for LA. I think they have a chance against San Antonio or Clippers in the 1st, but still a very small one.

  22. […] still finished with a team-high 30, though, because he's Kobe Bryant, so of course he …Blogtable: Have The Lakers Improved? (blog)Preview: Lakers at New Orleans HornetsLos Angeles TimesLakers aim to regroup in road […]

    • This team plays absolutely no defence. If they played defence even average then ithey would instantly be a title contender. Until they run a slower paced offence ( allowing defenders to get back on defence) and Mike D Antni encourage these players to be aggresive on defence instead of giving every team 3 feet no pressure thus allowing them to run there offence comfortably then they wont ever be any good.

      • Vino says:

        One MVP because the NBA overrates players like Lebron. There are so many great players in the NBA. If no overrating involves, many players would have MVP.