The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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