The 9-13 Los Angeles Lakers would probably receive the most votes for “most disappointing team” early on in this NBA season. However, Magic Johnson thinks the problems with the Lakers are correctable. He feels the biggest issue with the Lakers is that coach Mike D’Antoni is misusing forward Pau Gasol. What Magic says actually makes perfect sense when he explains how D’Antoni’s offensive scheme does not fit the players well:
“His system doesn’t fit the talent that the Lakers have. You can’t run with this team. Where are the runners? You got one dude who can get up and down the court and that’s Kobe [Bryant]. Ron [Metta World Peace], love him, but he’s slow. Both of our big men, not fast guys. [D'Antoni] has got to say, ‘Maybe I should scale it back.’ “
Johnson continued about how Pau Gasol isn’t being used right in the Lakers system:
“He’s still one of the best passing big man, I’m sorry, he is the best passing big man in the game, but you have him at the free throw line waiting for the ball. That makes no sense. That’s not his game. His game is catch it on the low block, face his man, one dribble left or right, he’s in the cup, nice hook, nice move, because he’s got great moves…Gasol to me is the key to this whole thing.But if you continue to have him at the three-point line, he’s not going to perform well because he hasn’t been out there, especially with Phil Jackson and the Lakers. When he was playing in Memphis, he was down low. I got to adjust my system a little bit if I’m the coach, that’s all.”
As with any team that brings in a few new faces and couples that with a new coach, it will take some time to mesh. Not like all the Lakers hope is lost. It’s still very early on in this season, and Magic Johnson also made that a point:
“We have to remember something about the Lakers: it’s still a long season. They can still get it together and still win. We have to remember when the Big Three got together from Miami, they started just like the Lakers did and then they came back and went to the Finals — even though they lost, but they went to the Finals.”
I have to agree with just about everything Magic Johnson said, but at the end of the day you have to believe a team like the Lakers that has so much talent will eventually get it together and make a run. If they don’t, it will be interesting to see where the blame falls.