Heading into the 2011-2012 campaign, we knew that we were in for an array of inconsistencies, but no one could have predicted what a roller coaster ride the Los Angeles Lakers have turned out to be.
On the one hand, Kobe Bryant leads the league in scoring, Andrew Bynum has shed the bust label and Derek Fisher has proved durable. On the other, the team is last in the league in three-point shooting, boasts a sinking ship in Metta World Peace and on any given night, looks like a team that needs to blow up its roster.
Despite being shrouded in a world of uncertainty, the Lakers find themselves only game out of first place in the Pacific division behind the Los Angeles Clippers. While this comes as a source of comfort for some, it is also cause for major concern.
The Jekyll and Hyde act is quickly getting old in Los Angeles. One night, the Lakers take down the rival Clippers, but merely days later, they fall to a Milwaukee Bucks team down both Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson. How does Los Angeles follow up that performance? With an efficient team effort the next night, knocking off the surging Minnesota Timberwolves on their own floor.
This is not the Lakers team the world has come to know and oppositions have come to fear. This is an organization that, for the first time in over decade, is struggling to find an identity.
Should Los Angeles decimate its roster and make room for Dwight Howard or hold on to the improved Bynum? Is it time to deal Pau Gasol or are they better off keeping the power forward? Can Gilbert Arenas solve their point guard woes or are they better off with Fisher?
Those are only a fraction the questions Los Angeles currently faces. This team has far from figured anything out, and with one-third of the regular season nearly gone, they are running out of time.
Thus far, the most pressing issue is Los Angeles’ inability to exhibit a team effort on a consistent basis. The offense has always run through Bryant, but his 25 plus field goal attempts have become all too predictable. The Lakers’ interior defense has been impeccable, yet they are getting burned on the perimeter. And their new-found penchant for playing from behind has wrecked their confidence.
For now, the Lakers can relish in the nights where each member of their big three drops 20 or more, but that can only last for so long. Outside of Bryant, Bynum and Gasol, production is wavering. And outside of Bryant, consistent stat lines are non-existent.
And until this team ascertains an identity and begins to operate as a cohesive unity, dominant basketball will remain a luxury of the past.
Dan Favale is an avid basketball analyst and firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His work can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.