Utterly Fascinating: The Team Needs Leadership- by Sam Accardo

In what Sam has decided to call, Utterly Fascinating, he takes a look at where the Lakers are at after finally getting to .500 and then losing to a Denver Nuggets team where Ty Lawson looked like a superstar.

To put it simply, I don’t want to beat a dead horse. I’m sure there are some magical free agent moves or trades that Mitch “I-Flipped-Bynum-for-Howard-and-Got-Away-With-It” Kupchak and the Buss family can try and orchestrate to improve a few positions (Darius Morris comes to mind). The fans will say that D’Antoni forgot to tell the Lakers about defense or his rotations are crap and people will say Kobe Bryant shot the ball too much.

But I’m here to tell you folks, it doesn’t matter one bit.

I heard a guy call in to the radio after the Lakers had a disappointing loss to Denver just the other night and ask for what I said wouldn’t help one bit: signing Delonte West and getting a lock-down defensive player.

But I’m still here. And I’m still saying it won’t matter one gorram iota.

I mean even if they got another player who can play D like MWP does, he sure as shit wouldn’t give any effort after he sees how the Lakers play on D. I mean think about it this way: have you ever played a video game where you’re on a team? Maybe you played on a mediocre team of Counter-Strike or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 where every player was trying to knife and pistol their way to victory. You wouldn’t play a serious game anymore; what’s the point? So why would a defensive player decide to expel as much energy as he can just to watch a player like Ty Lawson run right into the paint any time he wants? I sure can’t think of a good reason.

And why would you want another shooter? The only thing he’s going to do is get frustrated after Bryant, Gasol, Nash, MWP and Meeks take all the shots and he gets around 3 a night.

The thing is, the Lakers are pretty much as good as they’re going to get. Unless Kupchak has some manila envelope marked Plan Z and ESPN creams their pants at how much news it causes, no one player can help this team to a championship at this point. It’s all up to the current roster and they’re still not proving that they’re playing for a ring. Sure they may be only a game under .500, but it’s over a quarter of the way into the season, and the Lakers have had a pretty easy schedule so far. And while Nash has only been back for 3 games, the Lakers need to realize that they can’t make any mistakes at this point. Or just like the Angels, it won’t matter if they get hot at the end of the season.

The Lakers need a leader. What did they have when they won 3 in a row when Kobe was still numero ocho? A Shaquille O’Neal who just would not be stopped. What did they have when they won 2 in a row? A younger Gasol and veteran leaders of Derek Fisher and Lamar Odom. But here’s the point, Kobe was never the leader. He was just the weapon. He was the assassin. The Black Mamba. Everyone keeps saying that Steve Nash makes players better and he does. The offense has been finally gelling now that Nash is running the point (still needs to gelatinize some more) and players are reacting positively to it. Kobe doesn’t make players better. He intimidates them and often times it seems like they just let him do what he wants and they just stand and watch when he has the ball. But don’t get me wrong. That’s not what Kobe ever did and not what he should have to do now.

Because Steve Nash is the unofficial leader. Or at least, he should be.

The Lakers players (who aren’t Kobe Bryant or Steve Nash) need someone to look up to. Someone to encourage them when they do well and help them when they don’t. And it seems like Nash can be that player. The Lakers should be playing like the Clippers right now (who by the way have a winning streak consisting of more wins than the Lakers have had all season) given how strong their roster is. But the Lakers are falling to psychological problems. They just aren’t playing with heart and I wish it weren’t true. But the fans don’t want to accept that. The fans want to blame coaching for bad D, they want to blame rotation for bad D. They want to blame lack of mismatches and lack of low-post play for bad D. They want to blame everything they can, before they start actually blaming the players themselves.

Credit to Ken Simpson for letting me bounce these ideas off him and help me realize some better ones.

Sam Accardo is a writer for Hefferbrew. He is still staying optimistic, since defensive effort is something that can be fixed by just more defensive effort. But Los Lakers aren’t giving it to him, and he’s getting worried. Follow him @samcar455 or find him on Facebook. Get at him. He’ll respond.

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