Twitter is a tremendous tool. It can be used for networking, news gathering, pure entertainment, or any mix of the above. Almost more importantly, it gives light to some of the most ridiculous ideas ever.
For example, I came across a few Tweets about the Los Angeles Lakers potentially having interest in J.R. Smith. These rumors were quickly shot down by every insider in the NBA, but just seeing the mere thought of JR. heading to the Staples Center was enough to get my imaginative juices flowing at full force. Bear with me here as we look at what could have been the most entertaining gaggle of backcourt players in league history.
First off, let’s talk about JR Smith. The man can flat out shoot the ball, and he’s one of the best-bad-shot-makers in the business. But at the same time, he’s also one of the (and I say this with love as I’m a huge JR fan) the dumbest players in the league. His confidence is one of his biggest assets, but it’s also a tremendous weakness. He will continue to take contested step-back jumper after contested step-back jumper, even when it’s clearly not his night. Smith rarely passes the ball, and is good for at least one “what the f@ck are you doing?!?” moment a game. All of this makes up the beauty that is J.R. Smith.
Let’s look at the current Lakers’ backcourt right now.
Kobe Bryant is Kobe Bryant. What else is there to say about the 5-time NBA Champion and 17-time All Star that hasn’t already been said. He is the ultimate competitor and warrior, but he’s not the friendliest dude off the court. He has berated teammates before and he doesn’t take to kindly to someone else taking shots away from him. Kobe, just like JR, needs to have the ball in his hands to be most effective.
Jordan Clarkson was just about the only bright spot in what was a miserable 2014-2015 for the Lakers. The second-round pick jumped around the end of the bench and the D-League before getting thrown into the fire as a starter and flourishing. The uber athletic combo guard can get to the lane virtually at will and showed signs of developing into a nice playmaker late in the year. Clarkson, just like JR and Kobe, needs to have the ball in his hands to be most effective.
Los Angeles passed on the franchise’s next marquee big man in Jahlil Okafor to take D’Angelo Russell with the No. 2 overall pick in last month’s draft. Russell destroyed Big 10 competition in his one year at Ohio State, displaying an uncanny passing ability to go along with a deadly 3-point stroke. Russell may have struggled a bit with the vamped up level of athleticism in the Summer League, but don’t get it wrong: he’s the centerpiece of the Lakers’ rebuilding plans. Russell, just like JR, Kobe, and Clarkson, needs to have the ball in his hands to be most effective.
Those four in a backcourt together would be entertaining enough. But can you really talk/write about the Lakers’ backcourt and neglect to acknowledge the internet sensation that is Nick “Swaggy P” Young? Young revitalized his career with the Lakers in 2013-2014, dropping 18 points per game. His 2014-2015 season wasn’t nearly as successful, but he battled through injuries that clearly affected his play. Swaggy P is a gunner, and he’s never met a shot he didn’t like. He, just like JR, Kobe, Clarkson, and Russell, needs to have the ball in his hands to be most effective.
Do yourself a favor and ponder this for a moment. A small ball lineup of Clarkson and Russell in the backcourt, JR at the three, Swaggy at the stretch four and Kobe at center (Kobe might have the best post footwork in basketball so this would be a natural transition for the Black Mamba). This is a NBA 2K15 fan’s dream lineup right here.
Imagine Kobe exploding at JR during the middle of a defensive sequence after he air-balls a 30-footer with 15 seconds left on the shot clock. Imagine the “anything you can do I can do better” bad shot battles Swaggy and JR could get into in a blowout, and then imagine Kobe’s reaction afterwards. Imagine the stunted growth of two very promising young guards by having to endure playing alongside three of the most shot-happy guards in league history. Imagine Byron Scott drawing up a last-second shot for Kobe, only to have JR break it off mid-sequence and miss a step-back from the corner.
IMAGINE ALL THE WONDERFUL AND AWFUL THINGS THAT WOULD COME FROM THIS!
That’s just the tip of the iceberg of the 10,000 things that could and would go wrong with this team. The basketball universe would explode.
If the Lakers sign JR Smith, it could go down as one of the dumbest signings in league history. But at the same time, it would create the most entertaining team ever and make the Lakers relevant to fans outside of Los Angeles again.
So please, Mitch, for the sake of all things great about NBA League Pass, put JR in a purple and gold uniform.