2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers Midseason Report Card

2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers Midseason Report Card


nash, howard, kobeThe 2012-13 Lakers are on pace to becoming the biggest disappointment in the history of professional sports. Never have expectations and results been further apart. In spite of their failures, it’s still unfair to pain the entire team with the same brush. There have been some pleasant surprises mixed in with all the negativity. So it’s only right that I judge each player on the roster individually. So without further ado, the 2012-13 Lakers mdseason report card.

Kobe Bryant

Grade: A

2012-13 has become the season Kobe could no longer hide how bad his defense had become. He went from being an elite defender to being an average one about four seasons ago, in spite of all those undeserved First-Team All-Defense selections. But up until these past few games, Kobe has been outright awful on defense this season. That’s due mainly to lack of effort on the defensive end. He still has the ability to lock guys up on-ball when he chooses to, but he’s spent the majority of the season playing safety and gambling for steals and screaming at officials while his man is getting an easy lay-up.

However in spite of all that, what Kobe’s done on offense this season has compensated for his defensive deficiencies, at least for the purpose of issuing him a letter grade. Anyone foolish enough to blame Kobe for the Lakers’ struggles probably hasn’t watched a lot of their games. It’s scary to think how much worse this team would be without him.

Dwight Howard

Grade: B-

If my grading was based on expectations, I doubt Dwight would garner anything above a C. The truth is it’s kind of unfair to judge him on what he’s done this season because he’s clearly not close to 100%. In spite of what could either be either lack of health or lack of effort, he’s still averaging 17 points and a league-leading 12 rebounds per game. Few plays this season better symbolize the disappointment in both Dwight and the Lakers this season as his late-game block of Andre Miller a few weeks ago that went right to Danilo Gallinari for the 3-point dagger.

Pau Gasol

Grade: C-

Is Pau being misused? Probably. But that doesn’t change anything from the fact that he still misses way too many gimmes and can’t guard anybody who can run a 40 in under six seconds. A career 53% shooter, Pau has only made 43% of his shots this season. He’s now averaging 12.7 points per game, nearly six fewer than his career scoring average. His durability has also come into play. He’s already missed 13 games this season after missing 19 over the previous four seasons combined. It’s easy to say it’s time to trade him. Not so easy to find a taker that also won’t compromise the Lakers upcoming cap space in 2014.

Steve Nash

Grade: Incomplete

Lakers fans waited patiently for Nash’s broken leg to heal. He was going to be the answer to what ailed the team during his absence. How could people judge this team while it was being led by Darius Morris and Chris Duhon, right? Instead Nash still hasn’t figured out a way to fit in seamlessly. Except for maybe  a handful of games, Nash has tried way too hard to get others involved at the expense of doing what he needs to do for the team to win. He’s one of the greatest shooters of all-time. There’s no reason he should only have 26 free throw attempts after 17 games. It’s hard to knock his defense considering his age and expectations. But if his offense isn’t at least countering how he hurts the team defensively, then he’s doing more harm than good. It’s still only 17 games. I’m willing to wait another 10 or 15 before issuing a letter grade.

Metta World Peace

Grade: B

Since last season there were calls from fans to amnesty Metta World Peace. Most were probably unaware that he spent most of last season either overweight or dealing with a bad back. He came into camp in great shape and early in the season looked like the Ron Artest who played for the Pacers. While there’s no denying that his effort is there every game, he’s still missing lay-ups and wide-open three-pointers when it seems the team needs them the most. He can still defend anyone not considered an elite player but he can no longer be counted on to defend LeBron James, Kevin Durant, or James Harden. Then again, who can?

Next Page: The Bench Unit

  • hookedonnews

    Totally disagree with your evaluations of Nash and Kobe. The primary problem that Nash has had up until the last 2 games is Kobe Bryant. Once Kobe got the ball he held it, eventually jacking up shot after shot, throwing off the rhythm of the entire offense. The rest of the team was disengaged, resulting in low effort on defense. Yes he managed to score a lot of points, but was only shooting about 30% in the last few games leading up to the Jazz game. Nash should have stopped giving him the ball and shot more himself. Is that what you think? Care to speculate on how that would have gone over with Kobe? If he had displayed some of the willingness to share the ball that he’s showing now that he is in control of the ball-handling, this team would have won a lot of the games they lost. Nash did not try to score more because he was trying to involve his teammates. He would have eventually looked to score more once everyone was comfortable with the offense. I am glad that Kobe has realized that he can’t win by himself. Of course, he had to have complete control of the ball before he showed a willingness to trust anyone else with it. There is nothing wrong with Nash that an unselfish Kobe Bryant wouldn’t have cured. I would give Kobe an A now that he is shooting less and passing more. I don’t think he deserved a grade nearly that high before that–not because he’s not a great player but because he made his teammates worse not better. I didn’t bring up his turnovers, but they were certainly a factor in the poor play of the team.

    • Guest

      The only decent month this team

    • AndrewUngvari

      You asked, “Care to speculate on how that would have gone over with Kobe?” Here’s the answer from J.A. Adande:

      “What Kobe said he told Nash after Nash passed up an open shot: “‘Shoot the m———–r. What the f— are you doing?'”

      Here’s what I wrote:

      “Except for maybe a handful of games, Nash has tried way too hard to get others involved at the expense of doing what he needs to do for the team to win. He’s one of the greatest shooters of all-time.”

      My point was there were too many games where nobody on the team except for Kobe was making shots. For Nash to continue to pass up open shots so that other guys could miss them wasn’t ideal in games in which they needed to win. I know why he did it. But these aren’t the three-point stacked Suns teams that Nash played for. Nor has this version of Dwight been the pick-and-roll player that even Marcin Gortat is.

      Here are your Lakers shooting percentages as of today:

      Dwight – 58%
      Nash – 52%

      Hill – 50%
      Kobe – 47%
      Clark – 47%

      So other than Nash, you’ve got two guys who primarily dunk, then Kobe and Earl Clark, who has only played in 21 games. I expect his percentage to digress at least a couple percentage points.

      Next tier:

      Jamison – 45%
      Gasol – 45%
      World Peace – 42%
      Morris – 40%
      Meeks – 39%
      Duhon – 39%

      Jamison is shooting his career average but his minutes have been inconsistent. Pau is shooting 7% below his career average and he’s been injured for many of the games that Nash has been back for.

      Nash’s scoring ability is something that this team sorely lacked, especially in those games where Pau was hurt and they fell apart down the stretch. This notion that it was Kobe that was holding this team back is ridiculous. I’m not saying I don’t prefer this latest version of Kobe. I’m saying everyone on this team is responsible for their poor record. Their two biggest weaknesses this year were shot selection and defense. There’s no reason a team that shoots as poorly as they do from the perimeter should take as many long twos and threes. It’s the reason they’ve been getting killed in transition. They’re too old and slow to keep up with teams. They’re third in 3-point attempts but tied for 14th in 3-point percentage. There’s no reason for a team with two of the games best 7-footers to be taking 30% of all of their field goal attempts from behind the 3-point line.

      The only decent month this team had was in December when they went 7-7. During their best stretch of the season, a five game winning streak, Kobe scored 34, 30, 34, 34, and 34 points. There were games they lost that month where Kobe scored 36 on 14-29 shooting, 40 on 13-24, or 38 on 15-25. If not for Kobe putting this team on his back and averaging 34/6/5 and shooting 47% for the month of December, their season would already be over.

      You brought up Kobe’s turnovers but look at Nash’s. Neither has anything to write home about. Before Sunday’s game he had committed 18 total turnovers in his previous five games. That 3.6 per game average would place him fourth in the league in most turnovers, despite averaging 31 minutes, five fewer per game than anyone else in the top-10. The league leaders in turnovers and their average minutes per game:

      Jrue Holiday 3.9 in 38 minutes
      Rajon Rondo 3.9 in 37 minutes
      James Harden 3.8 in 38 minutes
      Kyrie Irving 3.6 in 36 minutes
      Russell Westbrook 3.5 in 36 minutes

      Believe me, I’ve been very quick to criticize Kobe for being selfish over the years. Just go back thru my archives and read my open letter to him before the season. But that narrative doesn’t apply to this season. I’m not saying that they’re not a better team when he’s less selfish. I’m saying that he’s not the reason for this team’s poor record. Especially not when you realize the impact that injuries have had on this team. He’s one of only two guys on the team to have played in all 44 of their games.

      I think we’re on the same page here. I just don’t see why it’s a big deal to ask one of the games best shooters to take an open shot when he has it. I wrote this post before the Utah game. I’m not surprised that he took 11 shots in the following two games, averaged 16 points, and the team won both games.

      • hookedonnews

        I don’t doubt that Kobe complained about Nash not taking a shot. However, anyone who knows a thing about Kobe Bryant knows that he had no intention of letting Steve Nash become the focus of the offense. Kobe was making shots because he shot so many times some of them had to fall. Anybody on this team can score if they’re given the ball, but there are only so many shot opportunities in a game. I’m not the only person who believes that Kobe’s holding the ball and shooting so much disrupted the offense. I’m not discounting Kobe’s contributions, but you have to be realistic about what has gone on prior to the last 2 games. D’Antoni’s offense is based on ball movement and taking open shots. It doesn’t work when you have one player who’s holding the ball, taking shots with 2 or 3 defenders around him while the other guys stand around watching. He is willing to involve his teammates now that he is in control of the ball. What a magnanimous guy. Nash did not have the quality players around him last season that he has in LA yet he led the league in total assists and FG shooting % for a guard. There’s no reason he couldn’t do the same in LA, but he only had a limited amount of games to try to get the offense on track and Kobe’s monopolization of the ball wasn’t helpful. Could he have taken more shots? Maybe, but your assessment was unfair to Nash and overly generous to Kobe.

        • AndrewUngvari

          i don’t know what you think I wrote. This has nothing to do with Kobe letting Nash become the focus of the offense. Kobe is making 47% of his shots this season, most of them mid-range, and you’re trying to pretend like he’s been shooting 30% on the season. Two of those three games where Kobe shot poorly and they lost, to Memphis and Chicago, were on the road against two of the league’s best defensive teams and the Chicago game was on the second of a back-to-back. But you’d rather pretend that those three poor shooting games were more indicative of the season he’s had than the 44 games in which he’s made 47% overall?


          I gave Nash an incomplete because he had only played in 12 games at the time I wrote it. Another reason why he’s not the focal point of the offense. He doesn’t play nearly enough minutes nor has he had enough time with this team. Not sure what you felt was unfair, wishing he’d take more than nine shots per game? How is that unfair? That also explains why Nash led all guards in FG%. Clearly, Nash doesn’t want to rock the boat and is trying to just fit in and contribute as best he can. That’s who he is. No knock on him. There’s a middle ground between being the focal point of the offense and taking open shots when they present themselves. It seems both Kobe and I would prefer Nash take more than 9 shots per game. Nobody is preventing that from happening right now except for Nash. I said I’d give him more of an assessment after a bunch more games. Not sure how that’s unfair but whatever.

          And I wasn’t overly generous to Kobe. I mentioned in my description how awful his defense has been. Is it because I gave him an A? He’s having his best shooting season in his 17th season. On two-pointers he’s shooting 51%. That’s crazy. I felt it that his performance in keeping this team even semi-afloat amidst the turmoil and injuries made it impossible for me to give him less than an A. I can think of maybe three games in which his ball-hogging might have played a part in the outcome of a game. But I said “might have”.

          You asked how Kobe would react if Nash wanted to take more shots. I gave you a direct quote from Kobe and you practically dismissed it. Please do a search for my “andrew ungvari” and “an open letter to Kobe Bryant” so you can see that you and I aren’t very different in how we feel about Kobe and his ball domination. But the injuries and coaching changes have forced Kobe to do something that even he would’ve probably preferred not to do to try to win games.

          • hookedonnews

            You and I are clearly never going to be on the same page about this. Go back and look at the stats where Kobe was taking so many shots and the percentage of those games that the Lakers won. He has made it impossible for Steve Nash to run D’Antoni’s offense like it should be run. I just read an article about how he advised Carmelo Anthony against trying to fit into D’Antoni’s offense and to play his game when he was in NY because “that’s what I would do.” Now he’s taken control of the ball and the facilitating because he’s not happy unless he’s the focus of the offense. That’s why I said that I knew when I heard Nash was going to LA that Kobe was unlikely to let Steve Nash be Steve Nash. He said he would be happy to go back to his natural role, but actions speak louder than words. He wasn’t content to be a spot-up shooter. He has to work in isolation and the rest of the team just has to live with it. I’ve got no problem with him trying to score with the game on the line, or doing a reasonable amount of shooting because that’s his job. It’s not like he just started shooting too much this season. Phil Jackson called him out on that numerous times. What I have a problem with is his selfish approach. When he said after the Thunder game that he was trying to take some of the pressure off Steve Nash I wanted to throw something through my TV. What he meant was that I had to get the ball back in my hands because this is my team, and I’m going to put the spotlight back where it belongs. It’s all about him. I think he’s one of the best players I’ve ever watched. I just wish he wasn’t such a jackass. As for Steve Nash’s shooting percentage, I don’t think that’s a result of his taking 9 shots a game. His career shooting percentage is well-known, and he hasn’t always shot so little. I did not dismiss your point about Kobe telling Nash to take a shot. I like to see Nash shooting more myself, but if you think Kobe wants Nash shooting 20 times a game I don’t think you know Kobe very well. I doubt that one game was lost because Steve Nash failed to take an open shot, but a case can be made that plenty of them were lost because Kobe shot too much. If you really believe that Kobe doesn’t want to be doing what he’s doing now, you’re either incredibly generous or naive. He’s doing exactly what he wants to do.

          • AndrewUngvari

            I read that article about Kobe and Melo. The same article also said that D’Antoni had to adjust his offense because it didn’t fit the personnel of this team. And it doesn’t. Much in the same way that D’Antoni had to tweak his offense to make it work with Shaq.

            I’m guessing you still haven’t read my open letter. I mentioned that Kobe shouldn’t feel the need to put his stamp on every game. But let’s get back to where you and I disagree. You felt that I was too generous on my grading of Kobe, not on how well he’s executed the offense on a team with mostly Darius Morris and Chris Duhon at point guard. You’re using a career-long criticism of Kobe as your argument for how I’m grading his performance over the first 41 games of this season.

            I’m angered by Kobe just as often as you are. But if you’re putting the blame for anything that has gone wrong on Kobe’s shoulders, or if you feel that his play is the determining factor in this team’s W-L record, then you’re either incredibly blind or stubborn. He IS doing exactly what he wants to do. Luckily for the team, it kept them in the playoff hunt while guys were either playing with injuries or coming back from them.

          • hookedonnews

            Of course, I didn’t mean to imply that Kobe was solely responsible for this team’s poor record. I think the majority of the problems have come from the injuries, the coaching/system changes, the less than stellar bench, and the lack of real playing time together. The point I’m trying to make about Kobe is that I feel that his play after Steve Nash came back from injury prevented the team from developing any real chemistry. Part of the responsibility for that falls on Steve Nash for giving him the ball so much. The game that Kobe put up 41 shots started out with Nash passing the ball to other people. After Kobe finally got the ball he started throwing it up every time he got it even though he was shooting poorly. I only mentioned that point about Kobe shooting too much in previous years because someone mentioned it on TV while I was writing my comment. I am focused on this season. I agree that Kobe helped win some games when players were injured. I just don’t agree that he deserved an A for all the reasons I have already given. In so many games this team played with little energy or effort. Kobe bears some of the blame for that because the other players felt disengaged because of his incessant shooting. I don’t know if D’Antoni’s system (or some form of it) would work with this team because they have never really tried it. At this point, I just hope they keep winning.

          • AndrewUngvari

            THIS we can agree on. Cheers.

          • hookedonnews

            Read your open letter to Kobe. Nice job.