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NBA Preview: Los Angeles L*kers

Before we begin this review, let me share with you something that caught my eye in that "only in Los Angeles" way.  Perhaps you've been following the fracas between talk show host Ellen Degeneres and the organization she adopted her pet dog from.  If not, the synopsis is that when Degeneres got the dog she signed a piece of paper that said she had to notify the agency before she gave it away.  The dog didn't get along with Ellen's cats so she gave it to her hairdresser whose two daughters, ages 11 and 12, had affection for it.  The agency has now confiscated the dog and refuses to give it back.

Now I should say that I don't have any particular affection for Ellen and I am also generally pretty pro-animal.  We have pets and they're like family.  I believe that anyone who is intentionally cruel to animals should be severely punished.  Those people who say they're giving pets good homes and then sell them for lab research should be boiled in caustic goo.  And at first I thought, "Well, a contract is a contract..." even though it seemed kind of weird and like the agency was way overreacting.  That was right up until I read their reasoning:

[Agency spokesperson Keith] Fink said Moms and Mutts has a rule that families with children under 14 are not allowed to adopt small dogs.

"It's for the protection of the dog," he said.

Excuse, me...WHAT?!?!?!?  Raise your hand if you had a pet before you were 14.  More to the point, I want to know how many of the people who work in and/or run that agency had pets before they were 14.  THAT'S HOW YOU LEARN TO LOVE ANIMALS AND WHY YOU WANT TO PROTECT THEM LATER IN LIFE.  Sure there may be a learning curve caring for the animal but that's where parents come in.  Anyone who isn't already crazy (and shouldn't have an animal at any age) makes it through just fine and so do their pets.  If every animal protection agency adopted this rule it would pretty much guarantee there would be no animal lovers at all within two generations.

If folks are wondering why people hate L.A. it's crazy, stupid, so-into-my-little-self-that-I-can't-see-anything-else stuff like this that makes it so easy.  "Boutique" indeed.  You're a rescue agency that's supposed to make sure animals go to loving homes.  Give the kids their dog.

The good news is maybe that craziness will distract people from what a train wreck the L*kers are turning out to be.


Record:  42-40, 2nd (tie) in Pacific Division, 7th (tie) in Western Conference

Statistical Comparisons:


5th in the league in scoring (103.3 ppg)


25th in opponent scoring (103.4 ppg)
12th  in ppg differential (-0.1 ppg)
6th in field goal %  
18th in opponent field goal %
16th in three-point %  
6th in assists
10th in steals
9th in blocks
20th in turnovers
18th in opponent turnovers
Average offensive rebounding team
Average defensive rebounding team

Significant Additions:  
Derek Fisher, Javarais Crittenton (R)

Significant Subtractions:
Smush Parker

Phil "Be One With Your Locker, Kobe" Jackson

Key Players

PG:  Derek Fisher, Jordan Farmar
SG:   Kobe Bryant, Javarais Crittenton, Maurice Evans
SF:  Luke Walton, Vladimir Radmanovic
PF:  Lamar Odom, Kwame Brown, Brian Cook
C:  Andrew Bynum, Chris Mihm

Comments:  Rumors are swirling that Kobe Bryant may be on the verge of being traded, so let's address that quickly first.  It's a no-win situation for the Lakers.  If he doesn't go everybody knows he had half a foot out the door.  In essence he's already declared his complete lack of faith in his teammates (though he terms it as management's failure to improve the team) as being a primary reason he wants to move on.  That means he'd spend the year in purple and gold performing his one-man, chemistry-killing highlight show.  If he does get traded they'll never, ever get back three-quarters of his value, let alone full compensation.  This wasn't a solid team with him.  Without him that roster looks ugly.  Three good players in return won't help it in the West.  Draft picks won't help either, as they'll be from a team that's about to get better.  Simply put, the L*kers are screwed.

Derek Fisher coming back, while not exactly the kind of move that Kobe envisioned, should help steady this team.  He knows how to run plays and get people the ball.  He can't shoot worth beans but he doesn't have to with Kobe around.  Luke Walton is a solid complementary player.  Lamar Odom is an underrated scorer and rebounder.  Jordan Farmar is overrated and Andrew Bynum has shown flashes but still has some time left in the oven before he hardens.  The guy to watch for will be rookie Javarais Crittenton.  He's shown a willingness to hoist and the ability to hit clutch shots.  I envision him as more of an off-guard type, though he may have trouble showing his best attributes if he plays on the same team as Bryant.  If he isn't overshadowed he could be on the all-rookie team.

The L*kers are still depending on significant minutes from  Kwame Brown, Vladimir Radmanovic, and Chris Mihm.  Ugh.

As long as Kobe suits up the L*kers will remain a viable offensive team.  They just don't have the talent or commitment to be anything more than mediocre in the other areas of the game.  I know L.A. fans will be talking about youngsters improving and folks coming back from injury but other teams have improved more dramatically than this team on those counts.

 At this point the L*kers are kind of like that mound of vanilla pudding-product they put out in the dessert portion of your favorite buffet.  You acknowledge it's there, but it's never going anywhere.

--Dave (