The professional basketball scene in Los Angeles been flipped and twisted in so many directions in the past month that it now resembles a David Lynch movie.
The fact that the Clippers, whose lineup has the components of a legitimate title contender, beat the Lakers in two straight preseason games normally wouldn’t be a cause for concern. But this year is different.
It’s clear that the Clippers aren’t the consummate underachievers that they normally are, and it’s even clearer that the Lakers aren’t the perennial title contender that we are used to seeing. In the first game the Lakers looked old, as usual, which caused fans to gush with excitement when they saw rookie Darius Morris take the court.
“Wow, look at how fast that guy is!” No, he’s just not 35 years old. After a solid showing in the first game, Morris got a DNP in game two, which either means that Mike Brown is secure with his position on the team or that he’s headed to the D-League. I guess we’ll find out which one soon.
The obvious larger concern for the Lakers is the fact that Kobe Bryant may be out for a while with his wrist injury. Several experts have talked about how this is a much more severe injury than Kobe and the Lakers are letting on, and that he could be out for several weeks. Even if Kobe plays through it, which he likely will, an injury to his shooting wrist will nag throughout the season, particularly with the frenzied shortened schedule.
The other problem with the Lakers is their extreme lack of depth. After Bill Simmons suggested on his podcast that the Lakers will go 34-32 this season (appropriately met by laughter from his guest), he backed up his assertion with a question: “Who is the fourth best player on the Lakers?”
Go ahead. I’m waiting…
Simmons came up with Josh McRoberts, but some may suggest Matt Barnes or Metta World Peace. Yikes.
With the loss of Lamar Odom, the Lakers have nothing outside of Kobe, Pau, and Bynum (for the 20 games that he’s actually healthy). For comparison’s sake, the fourth best player on the Clippers is either Caron Butler or Chauncey Billups, depending on your preference—both All-Stars and NBA champions.
In addition to their lack of depth and injury issues, the Lakers have to deal with implementing the system of a brand new coach. Overall this season is looking like an arduous uphill climb.
That’s why it’s time for revolutionary measures. I could only look at the Lakers roster so many times before the answer became as clear as Mike Brown’s spectacles. The Lakers need to implement the all-white lineup.
For the first time I can remember, the Lakers can field an entire lineup of American white players (I still don’t count Euros as “white” in the American sense of the word, so Pau doesn’t count). The line would look something like this:
- PG – Steve Blake
- SG – Jason Kapono
- SF – Luke Walton
- PF – Josh McRoberts
- C – Troy Murphy
We’ve yet to see this combination on the court (they must be saving it for the regular season), and originally I thought the only chance this lineup had of making the court was if the Lakers were down big. Thus I dubbed it “The White Flag.”
However, after watching the Lakers’ two preseason games I now see that this lineup may actually give them their best chance of winning.
Steve Blake was the team’s second leading scorer last night with 20 points. Murphy hit a clutch three late in the game to bring the Lakers within striking distance. The other three guys all have a huge basketball IQ. What’s not to like?
I’m not saying this is the Dream Team—all I’m saying is give it a shot. See what happens. At the very least, they’ll force three turnovers a game when the arena lights reflect off their pale skin and momentarily blind the opposing team’s ball handler.