- NBA Rank: 30
Conference Rank: 15
- Los Angeles Lakers
When you are down and out something always turns up - and it is usually the noses of your friends.Orson Welles
It's finally happened. The Lakers are the worst team in the NBA, something that is bound to cause lots of Schadenfreude around the league.
Wins walked out the door. Players got older. Management did an offseason recruiting job that makes Michael Jordan look like a genius. Let's rundown the changes to the Lakers and see why they can expect to be golfing come playoff time.
On Thursday, June 17 of 2010, the Los Angeles Lakers capped off a furious 4th quarter comeback in the seventh game of the NBA finals to hold off their archrival, the Boston Celtics, and hoist their sixteenth championship banner. It was also their second straight banner and third straight finals appearance. That was a lifetime ago.
What happens when you take a top 3 center away from a team and replace him with Chris Kaman, give your injured best scorer's minutes to Nick Young, and add a bunch of Mexican league level talents to round things off? You get to the bottom of the Boxscore Geeks rankings.
|Dwight Howard ||2722||28||.160||9.0|
|Metta World Peace ||2530||34||.072||3.8|
|Antawn Jamison ||1636||37||.072||2.5|
|Earl Clark ||1363||26||.077||2.2|
|Darius Morris ||683||23||-.025||-.4|
|Devin Ebanks ||197||24||-.110||-.4|
Indicates that the player is no longer with the team.
Last year, the Lakers were a middle of the pack team that got lucky and made the playoffs. They had some significant health issues with their core players (Nash, Pau and Kobe), but given the age of these players, this wasn't really a surprise. Well, maybe the way Kobe channeled 2008 for most of the year was a little surprising.
The biggest issue for the Lakers is the fact that 10 players who produced 17.2 wins (about 40% of their win total) left in the offseason, most notably Dwight Howard, the best center in the league for the last five years (at times during that stretch he was the best player, period).
Another cause for worry is that their biggest win producer had an outlier year in terms of efficiency and productivity for his age. It would be downright historic if Kobe duplicates his 2012-13 production, especially coming off such a devastating injury. If he does, his German doctor should be nominated for the Nobel prize.
|Nick Young ||2.3||2676||28||-.010||-.6|
|Wesley Johnson ||2.9||1361||26||.007||.2|
|Chris Kaman ||4.9||1186||31||-.042||-1.0|
|Jordan Farmar ||1.1||787||27||.079||1.3|
|Shawne Williams ||3.5||664||27||.023||.3|
|Xavier Henry ||2.4||518||22||-.003||0|
|Ryan Kelly ||4.0||391||22||-.035||-.3|
|Dan Gadzuric ||4.5||276||36||-.043||-.2|
|Eric Boateng ||5.0||190||28||.055||.2|
Indicates that the player is new to the team.
The biggest challenge for the Lakers isn't just the departing players; it's that the replacements are terrible. Nick Young, Wesley Johnson, Chris Kaman and Jordan Farmar wouldn't crack the rotation of any of the western conference playoff teams last year. One could argue they shouldn't crack the rotation of any NBA team. The nine players added to the roster are in fact so terrible that they combine for a grand total of negative 0.1 wins produced in 41% of the Lakers total minutes for the year.
Let me emphasize that: 40% of the Lakers minutes equate to slightly less than zero wins.
Even though we project that Pau and Nash will have more minutes than last year, and that Pau will enjoy a resurgence to his old self, and even though we assume that Kobe will play half the season, this Lakers team is the worst roster in the league by a significant amount.
Projected Playoff Rotation: Nash, Gasol...wait, seriously?
It does not get better for the Lakers once we add in the size, position and schedule adjustments. This is a an undersized, shooter-heavy roster (or the exact opposite of a Phil Jackson team). They also have the toughest projected schedule in the NBA next year.
I remain convinced that the Lakers front office is willfully tanking. It took real effort to assemble a roster this bad.
Patrick on deck Patrick's thoughts
I agree with everything but that last sentence. I don't think this is intentional. I really think that Jim Buss is just that bad at running an NBA team. There's a reason that public corporations tend to outperform family-run businesses in the long haul -- heredity is a terrible way to maintain corporate leadership. I'd be more convinced that this was on purpose if they had just stuck right at the cap and signed 6 D-leaguers and undrafted chaps. Instead, after amnestying Metta to get under the tax line, they actually went out and spent more luxury-tax dollars on guys like Chris Kaman and Wes Johnson.
If we assume that he wasn't trying to win, why would he do that? To keep up appearances to Lakers fans? Who the hell cares? There probably isn't a Laker fan anywhere on earth who will use this season as a justification to stay away in 2014-15 if they get competitive again.
I have a standard saying ready at all times when I see stuff like this: Jim, if you hate money that much, just send it to me instead!
All photographs in this article are via Wiki Commons.