Lakers Mailbag: Trial And Lots and Lots of Error

The big news to come out of Lakerland on Tuesday is that the final two-and-a-half months of the Lakers season will be cancelled and the Lakers forfeit all games.

No, wait, that’s not right.

Kobe Bryant will be shut down for the season.

Crap, wrong again.

Byron Scott will be placed…..on trial? Really? Apparently a 10-41 start to the year after setting records of incompetency last year is only good enough to have you job moderately questioned.

Where can I sign up for a job like that?

Speaking of that trial, as much as I’d love to see a trial by combat, it won’t be happening.

But how much fun would a Hunger Games-style trial that included Byron be? Think of all the foxhole comments we could make while watching. Or how Byron doesn’t need fire, he just needs to man up. Or how, after dying just seconds into the battle, we could talk about how he just didn’t come out ready to play.

Can somebody fund this? Please?

Well, you’re a sick, sick man.

One of the two ways the Lakers keep Byron is if they do not keep the pick and would like to kill the remaining fan base they have and tank another year for the 2017 NBA Draft.

The other would be if the Buss family bought stock in multiple beer companies and are looking to maximize their profits.

For the first time in my life, I want to thank a Clipper employee for reasons other than comedy.

Don MacLean said what Laker fans have been thinking for nearly half this season. And he said it on as public a forum as you can, then didn’t shy away from his comments and retorted to Byron’s comments directed at him.

The problem is, who could call at Byron at this point that would have any more of an impact? Magic Johnson ain’t jumping on Twitter, getting Lakers fan rallying against the coach. No beat writer is going to write a scathing column about Byron at risk of losing access to the team.

Your best bet at that might be Kevin Ding, but he’s likely writing a slam piece on some underperforming draft bust. And even if he did, he doesn’t have the clout to create enough waves.

Realistically, there is enough outrage for the Lakers to know things aren’t right. In fact, Jeanie Buss tweeted out today that she reads tweets sent out her from Laker fans, which is a bit surprising and not something I’d recommend, but the positive is she knows fans are upset.

At the end of the day, Byron won’t be fired this year. The Lakers need to finish the tank at this point in the year and do the best they can to keep their draft pick.

Well, I mentioned this in a series of tweets that Daman Rangoola referenced in his podcast (which I strongly recommend listening to as well as giving him a follow on Twitter @damanr).

The consensus was the the Lakers’ young core hasn’t had their development hindered THAT much. Would they be improving at a higher level under a different coach? Likely. Is their ceiling permanently lowered or are they regressing rather than improving? Not a chance.

For example, look at Larry Nance Jr., who has shined bright this season and surprised many. He has shown signs of improvements throughout the year. Another player is Anthony Brown, who has shown many positives once he started receiving more minutes.

Even D’Angelo Russell has improved this season, but it’s also sometimes easy to forget that he’s 19 years old, playing in one of the biggest markets in the world on the greatest NBA franchise in the league (damn straight, Celtics).

Scott should absolutely be fired, but at the end of the day, Lakers’ fans have a sort of witch hunt against him, especially after games on Twitter. The season sucks, but spending time yelling at Byron after each game isn’t going to make it better.

Now, enough talk about Byron Scott

I whole-heartedly support bringing tiki-taka to basketball. We’d make the San Antonio Spurs’ offense look like Byron Scott isolation ball.

That is until Roy Hibbert dropped a pass.

To be honest, I didn’t realize it was so bad, but he’s shooting just 68 percent at the line this year. This is after shooting 76 percent at Ohio State last year.

Again, to reiterate a bit, at the age of 19, there isn’t much about Russell’s game I’m going to be worried about. He’ll get it ironed out, especially as he gets more comfortable on the court.

 

The main problem with assessing talent on the Lakers right now is that, with Byron Scott as coach, it’s hard to know exactly what the Lakers have. In his offense, 80 percent of the time, the offense breaks down into either an isolation or a screen and roll late in the shot clock.

There was an analogy used recently, and I forget the source, but it was a great one. Think about a baseball player when they’re in the on-deck circle before heading to the plate. They use a weight on their bat so that, when they swing their bat at the plate, it seems lighter and easier to swing and, in theory, the bat will be swung harder and the ball will subsequently go farther.

Think of Byron Scott as the weight and the Laker offense as the bat. Right now, it’s being bogged down and has ugly results. But remove Byron next season (i.e. the weight) and the Lakers very well could fly free.

Add in Luke Walton and we’ve basically corked the bat.

Again, it’s hard to give labels and tag Clarkson as something given that he is in his sophomore season under a coach who doesn’t utilize him to the best of his abilities.

The consensus among many is that Clarkson is a sixth man on a contending team. I think it’s a bit early to put that type of tag on a player like him.

Yes, he and Russell have struggled on the court together this year. Ideally, Russell needs a spot-up shooter than can score when he drives. In theory, Clarkson can be that guy and we saw him come out of the gates this season shooting a blistering 43.9 percent from behind the arc through the first 19 games.

He has since regressed to the mean, shooting just 33.8 percent on the season, but you can see the tools are there.

On catch-and-shoot three-pointers, Clarkson is shooting 38 percent, which is above the Lakers’ average as a team of 34.3 percent and even better than Russell’s 35.3 percent. The problem is, catch-and-shoot jumpers from Clarkson have a frequency of just 15.4 percent, whereas that number is up to 25.6 percent for Russell.

This is just one example of one stat, but it shows that Clarkson can still be productive. More than anything, the reason not to put a label on him is that there might not be a harder working player in the off-season than Clarkson.

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