(Correspondent LeBron James files the first Lakers dispatch of the 2018-2019 season.)
Talk to analytical scientists all you want. I’ll instead offer meat and potatoes to clarify why I’m concerned about my Lakers after the first two games this season. We hit a higher field goal percentage and modestly more baskets than either the Portland Trailblazers or the Houston Rockets but were twice outscored by nine points. How’d that happen? It’s elementary. Portland hit six more three-pointers and Houston nailed nine more. They also outrebounded us at each end and made more free throws. That’s enough statistics.
In human terms, we’re not very good outside the arc or on the boards, and that’s fine, as long as the young guys improve. I’m almost thirty-four and maxed out. Brandon Ingram needs to quit pushing and punching people and, after a four-game suspension, perform like an all-star forward and the second best guy on a playoff team. So who’s the third option? I think that has to be Josh Hart who’s more aggressive and ambitious than current starter Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Give Hart the responsibility he craves.
Since Ingram’s going to be out a while, Kyle Kuzma has to step up and play as the worthy second option he already believes himself to be. In the NBA you’ve got to have three or four guys who produce almost every game. It’s time for touted Lonzo Ball, recovering from injuries and shooting difficulties, to become our quarterback and speed up play and get us better shots to compensate for our relative lack of long-range accuracy. If Lonzo passes well the next three games, suspended brawler Rajon Rondo will never reclaim the starting spot.
Towering JaVale McGee’s already doing more scoring, rebounding, and shot blocking than expected of a career sub playing only twenty minutes a game. We’ll also need big rookie Mo Wagner, a German who pronounces his surname with a V, like the composer, to get well and be a sassy seven-footer who shoots like a guard. We’ve got other guys on the team but the ones I mentioned will have to do most of the lifting. You already know we’re not going to beat the Warriors and will have to learn to play together to even make the playoffs in the merciless Western Conference that features not only Golden State, Houston, and Portland but emerging Utah, Denver and New Orleans, surly Minnesota and Oklahoma City, and venerable San Antonio.
Sometimes I have soothing dreams about playing with all stars in the Eastern Conference my teams conquered eight straight seasons, but when I wake up I’m in the land of Showtime and obligated to be a solitary leading man until next summer when I pray another virtuoso comes to town. I doubt Kevin Durant, twice my nemesis in the NBA finals, will opt to enhance my legacy. Perhaps his teammate, three-point wizard Klay Thompson, will join me, or maybe my stylistic twin Kawhi Leonard, or tall, sweet-shooting Karl-Anthony Towns. I need someone special or there’ll be no more rings.