Listening to the Lakers talk about the 2022-23 season, you’d think Lakers head coach Darvin Ham has managed to invent a new system. As longtime habitues of the sport know, however, the notion can’t be farther from the truth. Mentoring in the pro ranks isn’t rocket science in the sense that everything has become apparent for a while now; those practicing the profession willingly share information and impart institutional knowledge, and they understand that, no matter how proficient they are in Xs and Os, the bottom line the extent of the talent they have at their disposal, and how that pool of talent responds to their entreaties.
That said, the Lakers do have reason for optimism, and not simply because the start of the campaign — as with any other — brings with it a clean slate. The fact that Ham is a first timer to the hot seat likewise underscores the new beginning. And for the first time in a long while, they’re healthy — for the most part, at least. Which is why even veteran stars LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook, fresh off a disappointing run that saw them fail to make the playoffs after being installed as preseason favorites to take the title, can’t help but be bullish about their prospects.
Whether the Lakers’ cheery disposition will remain until the end of the season remains to be seen. Needless to say, they’re on-court performance figures to dictate the degree to which their positive vibes carry over from Game One to Game 82 and, hopefully, beyond. And, for all their sanguinary, their roster continues to exhibit fundamental infirmities; while they’ve been busy picking up warm bodies, not a single one of their acquisitions addresses the need for reliable volume three-point shooting. Considering that James is passable at best from beyond the arc and both Davis and Westbrook possess cringe-worthy forms insofar as treys are concerned, it’s fair to wonder why the front office didn’t make a concerted effort to correct the glaring imbalance.
To be fair, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka did tackle the issue head on; he noted that the lineup cannot but be deemed a work in progress. Still, there’s cause to argue that the purple and gold once again got enamored with the trees that they forgot to see the forest. Certainly, any team with James on it — especially when backstopped by a determined Davis — has a chance, Westbrook’s mere presence is a negative not even they can overcome. Too bad. And because the obvious solution is not easily implemented, the worst is yet to come.
Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and Human Resources management, corporate communications, and business development.