It’s around this time of year, as the leaves start to turn and a chill fills the air, that I can hear the faint siren song of the upcoming NBA Season. While last year I spent all summer obsessing over when the NBA was coming back, and searched the internet for any morsel of hoops coverage I could find, this year I’ve been enjoying football and haven’t been as antsy for the first jump ball of the season. That all changed this week, like a coming out of hibernation, I spent my first couple of mornings in five months catching up on news from around the league.
Every year the first question I ask myself, besides how the Lakers can win another title, is which teams I want to follow using NBA’s League pass (the NBA”s version of Sunday ticket). If you are even a casual fan of The Association I would highly recommend League Pass, being able to follow quality teams for an entire season makes watching the games so much more enjoyable, especially if the team that’s in your local market isn’t so hot (I can’t imagine there are many NBA fans in the greater Charlotte area.)
Since I have not yet reached true baller status I buy the discounted five team package ($120), and to be honest choosing which teams to follow is one my favorite parts of the NBA preseason. Last year I followed the Lakers, Clippers, Thunder, Heat and Timberwolves; and I was really happy following that group of teams… Yes, even the Wolves, they were a lot of fun to watch before Rubio tore every ligament in his knee.
For the next couple of weeks I’m going to highlight a team that will be in my League Pass Five starting with the…
Los Angeles Lakers.
Shocker I know. What a crazy couple of years years it’s been for the Lake Show, with everything from the Chris Paul trade that wasn’t, to Lamar Odom demanding out, to this off season’s craziness, there has not been a dull moment for fans of Los Angeles basketball. I have to admit that watching CP3 play for the Clippers last year made me extremely jealous, and probably made a little bitter towards Derek Fisher before he was traded to the Thunder.I’ve been so envious of teams with real point guards for so many years that when Steve Nash signed with the Lakers I started dancing in the streets. I’d like to imagine that if I actually lived in LA the site of a man spontaneously dancing over the signing of a basketball player wouldn’t have been as awkward to as it was in Northwestern Illinois, perhaps on Venice Beach. Nash turns 39 in February, his points (12.5) and assists (10.7) per game were done last year, and there are questions about how well Nash can adapt his game to work in LA, but I have little doubt that he will be able to maximize the talent around him and will also be a much needed three point threat that the Lakers haven’t had in years.
Que thematic song.
As exciting as it was to sign Nash, it would only serve as an opener to the Dwight Howard main event. To be honest I had become just as sick as everyone else having to deal with trade rumors for two years, and I honestly felt bad about how the Magic organization treated Stan Van Gundy last season, but if history has taught us anything it’s that nothing washes the stink of a player like having him on your team! So welcome Dwight, I look forward to hating you in six months when you are waffling on whether or not you want to commit to a contract extension! When the Nets were the clear front runner to make a deal for Superman I tried to convince myself that LA was fine with Andrew Bynum, but watching Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant destroy us in the paint in the Western Conference Semifinals was sign enough that bringing Howard into town would make the team better. Last year Dwight Howard was second in the league in defensive win shares, with Bynum coming in at 13th. As much as I love Steve Nash, he’s not going to make the NBA’s All Defensive team, and for this whole thing to work the Lakers need a top defensive player under the basket.
It’s going to be interesting to see how the Lakers play without Howard as he continues to rehab his back. My guess is we’ll be seeing a lot of lineups that include Pau Gasol at center and nearly acquired Antawn Jamison and power forward. I was a big fan of the Jamison signing, he averaged 17 points and six rebounds per game with Cleveland last year, getting him for $1.6 million was a shrewd move in an offseason full of big spending. It seems like Metta World Peace decided to stay in shape this offseason, which is great news because he played absolutely horrible last year, and if the Lakers want to contend they need the artist formerly known as Ron to play a little more like Artest and a little less like Metta World Hamburglar.
The final piece of the puzzle is Kobe Bryant, who is doing everything he can to remain an elite NBA player. It was unsettling to watch Kobe shoot 43% from the field, and my hope is with the new talent in town the mamba will pick his spots a little bit better, but that’s kind of like telling… Actually I can’t find a metaphor better than telling Kobe to stop shooting, it’s just not going to happen.
I honestly have no idea how good this Lakers team is going to be this year. It wouldn’t surprise me if they won the title or lost in the first round of the playoffs, and that’s honestly kind of exciting. Sure it will probably make for some frustrating games where the Lakers are having to rely on Jordan Hill and Jodie Meeks more than any team should have to, but it really beats having to watch a carbon copy of last years team struggle to stay relevant. It’s going to be a fun season, Lakers fans truly live in interesting times.