Second Trimester Grades: A Tale of Two Teams

Second Trimester Grades: A Tale of Two Teams

Postby KobeMVP888 » Fri Feb 09, 2018 8:45 am

I just had to start this topic after quite an exciting day yesterday! An eye opening trade that was graded as an A or A+ all over basketball cyberspace followed by a blowout against a VERY shorthanded OKC team made for a lot of smiling!

The second trimester started out with promise. An OT loss to the Warriors that we would have won but for shitty free throw shooting followed by a win in Houston. It looked like we were gluing together just in time to compete against great teams with a brutal schedule in December. And then .. a 9 game losing streak where we looked absolutely horrible and got fans wanting Luke Walton's head because it wasn't just THAT we lost, it was the way were losing. All the hard work on defense looked like it was being flushed and that we were simply reverting to the 2016-17 26 win Lakers. We were 11-27, 2 games BEHIND last season's pace! We sunk to the bottom of the NBA in free throw shooting, three point shooting and turnovers. Let's face it, brethren, Lakers Nation was none too happy.

BUT THEN THE SWITCH FLIPPED and ever since that forgettable losing streak, the Los Angeles Lakers have posted an impressive 12-4 record, good for the NBA's second best record over that stretch of games. In the process Luke has his group playing cohesive defense, has established an identity and while Lonzo Ball is injured and Kyle Kuzma has hit a bit of a rookie wall (save that beautiful 28 point performance against the Hated Ones and a few other nice performances like last night), Julius Randle and Brandon Ingram are blossoming before our eyes and we have become an unselfish thing of beauty.

So here are the grades:

THE FRONT OFFICE:

They stuck by Luke after the 9 game losing streak and went public with their vote of confidence and, after doing so, the entire team gained confidence. I do not believe that the two were unrelated. And then THE TRADE. No other team was able to pry a first round pick in a deal at the trade deadline. Never mind that I don't understand the big deal about trading low first round picks, but apparently they are coveted because you get a potential rotation player for cheap for 4 seasons (and/or an asset for possible trades, of course). Meanwhile, cap space has been cleared and, for fun, we brought in Isaiah "JR" Thomas, last season's third leading scorer with a 28.9 ppg average and 34 year old veteran Channing Frye, a floor stretching big who played with Luke at U of A. If we review our posts on players we considered to be expendable, I believe that, to a man, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance, Jr. were on that list. Oh, and they did NOT trade Julius Randle, giving them flexibility what to do with him when he becomes a Restricted Free Agent.

Grade: A+

LUKE AND THE COACHING STAFF

I was going to give them an A- because of the 9 game losing streak, but what is much more important is the fact that they have righted the ship and have established an identity for this group two-thirds of the way into the season, setting up a potential sizzling finish. So I gave Luke and the staff an A instead of an A+. In the process of getting these guys to figure things out and play as a UNIT, the Lakers showed Paul George a glimpse of the future by destroying the short handed Thunder last night and by beating them a few games back while at full strength (minus Andre Roberson). Anyone with the naked eye can envision what kind of a fit he would be here and there's no better way of showing him that than by beating him. That's Luke. Oh, and Luke finally figured out that Julius Randle should be starting. Uh, hellloooo. And moving Ingram to the point while inserting Josh Hart into the starting lineup? Genius. Hart, KCP and Ingram defending the edge? It works.

Grade: A

THE STARTERS:

With Lonzo out, the Lakers can't win. NOT! Julius Randle was inserted into the starting lineup back on game 34 in the middle of the 9 game losing streak and, while it took awhile for the team to adjust and for Luke to figure out the rotations, the toughness he has added has helped our starters become a formidable unit capable of playing with anyone in the league. Brook Lopez hit a stretch where, even recently during a two game losing streak, he appeared distraught, but he has regained his groove. Josh Hart is opening everyone's eyes, KCP is a solid team player, albeit frustrating at times and Brandon Ingram is making us grin from ear to ear! Can't wait to see what we are like when Lonzo returns and gets a few games under his belt! Regardless, the days of slow starts appear to be behind us. Even last night when we fell behind, we clawed back to win the first quarter, so the starters wore them down with some body punches and kept us in the game.

Grade: A-

THE BENCH:

The departed Larry Nance, Jr. played solid defense and the departed Jordan Clarkson held up the fort for the most part, especially when Lonzo went down and he needed to pick up his game. Overall, the bench was good, not great, especially because Kyle Kuzma has leveled off a bit. I am excited to see whether IT will accept a Super Sixth Man role again. The idea of Isaiah and Kuzma coming off the bench to provide instant offense is just too exciting not to get giddy about. For good measure, Luke can throw Channing Frye out there with them for some floor spacing. Even Mike D'Antoni would spooge in his pants over the idea of THAT coming off his bench!

Grade: B

OVERALL GRADE: A-

Sure, I could have given this trimester anywhere from an A to a B- because of the 9 game losing streak, but that was one of the toughest stretches of games for any team in the Association in December, if not THE toughest! What is important is where Luke has us headed both from a style of play and won-loss record standpoint. When I look at the schedule, I don't think an 18-10 finish to conclude the season with a 41-41 record is out of the question. We have a winnable game in Dallas on Saturday and, if we come away with a W, the 9 game losing streak will be completely wiped out. It will be interesting to see how Luke incorporates IT, because there will be chemistry alteration with his addition and the loss of Nance and Clarkson, particularly on the defensive end. If he's a problem, he can always be bought out and we'll be just fine anyway.

The future is very bright, Brethren!
I LOVE BASKETBALL! GO LAKERS! #17 COMIN' UP STRONG!!! TOO EASY, JUST WAAAAY TOO EASY!!!!! NEXT! :rollyellow:
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Re: Second Trimester Grades: A Tale of Two Teams

Postby lakerevolution » Fri Feb 09, 2018 1:43 pm

EXCELLENT breakdown of the season, and a great setup for how we will finish 2018. I look at the commentary on social media from so-called Laker fans whose perspectives and ideas on what is and is not happening are SO FUCKING RIDICULOUS that this TrueFan site is like an oasis in the middle of a bone-dry desert. OF COURSE Clarkson is a great asset -- that's why he needed to be the piece we traded! NO, Randle isn't a bumbling, no-talent, low-I.Q. liability, he's a gutsy, big-hearted basketball junkie whose desire to compete and win is evident every second he's on the court! And NO, Isaiah Thomas was not brought on to take Lonzo's spot -- we took him off Cleveland's hands because he had quickly become a locker room pariah and could not remain teammates with he-who-shall-Bron-be-named!

This bold deadline move has the whole league talking about us once more, and things are just heating up! If we even get CLOSE to 40 wins, it'll be one of the biggest turnarounds in recent history and a sure sign that a playoff berth is a realistic mandate for next year.

Exciting times ahead!
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Re: Second Trimester Grades: A Tale of Two Teams

Postby 3Peatkb24 » Sat Feb 10, 2018 5:33 am

Great breakdown as usual Ken! Not much I can really add to this. I love the way we are playing right now and the trade was an (A) getting IT and creating flexibility.
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