Lots to Be Concerned about for Lakers and Lin fans, But for Now, Take a Deep Breath

It’s pretty depressing to be a Lakers and Lin fan at the moment. Two games in and things look very ugly. Nothing is working and the lists of concerns go on and on. Among my many concerns, here are just  a few big ones for me.

My main concern is whether or not BS (“Byron Scott”) will incorporate PnRs for Lin. That’s the MOST important thing for me. Because without PnRs, Lin is less effective. I wonder if Lin is being very vocal about the fact that he needs PnRs and screens from his teammates. Part of me is not sure, because I think PnRs reminds Lin of “Linsanity” and part of me feels like he’s trying to get away from playing too much PnRs, because it reminds him too much of “Linsanity”. Just a crazy hunch. In my Open Letter to Lin, I told Lin  he needs to embrace “Linsanity”, rather than keep trying to distance himself from it:

“I don’t think you’ve come to terms with the impact that Linsanity has had on you, yet, and there’s a big part of you now that wants to leave that all behind, as if it’s something that happened to someone else. And I don’t think that’s healthy. You need to own Linsanity! Because of your humility, I don’t think you’ve fully embraced Linsanity, even telling your friends not to say “Linsanity” around you. Linsanity could be seen as a punchline, but what Linsanity really is is your Consciousness (with a capital “C”) or your real self. That’s why you’ve said in interviews that it felt like an out-of-body experience (especially that spin around Derek Fisher). You see Linsanity as a gift from God, so don’t be embarrassed by it!”

I get why he would try to distance himself from it, because he doesn’t always want to be known for ONLY Linsanity by the media and wants to move forward. I think THAT is healthy. But I hope this doesn’t mean he forgets how he played during those magical weeks–especially after being suffocated for two years by a coach who, we find out from his most recent remarks on Lin after the season opener between Lakers and Rockets, is actually a Lin Hater.

Kobe, in a recent article by Kevin Ding, told Lin to stop walking on eggshells around him. He is quoted as saying the following: “Go run the offense—aggressively. This is your job. You run the show. You’re good at it. You don’t have to look over your shoulder anymore like with other teams. Grab the bull by the horns. Enough with your talk about fitting in or facilitating for me. Play like you played when you were in high school.”

I was very heartened to hear Kobe say this for several reasons. For one, Kobe is basically calling out Melo, Harden, McHale, etc. when he says that Lin doesn’t have to look over his shoulder anymore like he had to with his other teams. This shows that Kobe understands what Lin has gone through with other teams Lin has been on and, hopefully, is trying to make it so that Kobe, himself, isn’t like Lin’s previous teammates. The comment about playing like he played when you were in high school is also interesting. I think Kobe just means to play and have fun and not take it too seriously and not be up in your head too much. But it could also mean that Kobe probably watched “Linsanity” the movie and is telling Lin to be a leader like he was for his team back in high school. It’s probably more about the general idea of playing with the joy that you had when you were a kid.

I’m hoping that after this conversation, it will really motivate Lin to be very vocal about what he needs to be successful. I know a lot of Lin fans are not happy with the way Kobe has played. As for me, I’m not ready to crucify Kobe, yet. Remember, I was the one who was very pessimistic about Lin joining the Lakers, initially. So I understand all the concerns some Lin fans are expressing about Kobe’s ball hogging in the last couple of games. But to me, it’s too early to tell. I think THIS Kobe knows he needs help in order to win. So he’s much more willing to share the ball and share leadership rolls if it means winning games. I think his ball hogging in these couple of games has more to do with the fact that Kobe feels like he HAS to ball hog to win, since it doesn’t seem like anyone else is stepping up. So I think if Lin steps up, Kobe will allow Lin to share the leadership roll with him.

The one concern I have is that Kobe rarely passes to Lin. And I’m not sure if that will change, because when Kobe has the ball, he’s more concerned about scoring or play making. And he doesn’t consider passing the ball to Lin at the perimeter to be play making. He’s usually looking to either score or pass it to a big man inside. So THAT’S another reason why you don’t see Kobe passing the ball to Lin and I don’t think this is going to change. It’s not really about Kobe being selfish. It’s about Kobe feeling like he’s there to either score or make plays and he feels like Lin can make plays on Lin’s own and doesn’t need Kobe to make plays for Lin. So that’s more of the reason why we probably won’t see Kobe passing to Lin much at all. Doesn’t mean he doesn’t like Lin or anything. I think this is a mistake by Kobe, as well as the entire Lakers team. They’re not a team that naturally moves the ball. It’s usually just one pass and then a mid-range jumper. They need to do more perimeter passing to move the ball from side to side. But this is probably another discussion, because I don’t really want to get into all the concerns I have, since that will be a very long list.

The other big issue for me as a Lin fan, is that Lin’s teammates don’t understand his game, at all, apart from Ed Davis. Lin’s a PnR guy and he’s an inside-out guy, but his teammates don’t get this–especially the inside-out part. I’m hoping Lin is very vocal about the type of player he is and where his teammates need to be when he’s driving into the lane, etc.Lin is someone who likes to drive in and kick the ball out for an open shooter (preferably for a 3-pointer). But his teammates just end up crowding the lane and aren’t moving to get open for Lin to kick the ball out. I don’t think they expect Lin to kick the ball out when Lin drives. They’re just expecting him to score. So they just follow him in to see if they can get a rebound and, as a consequence, the defense follows him and Lin finds himself driving into heavy traffic. This is something that Lin needs to really talk to the guys about, because this might not be something that Scott has picked up on. Lin’s teammates need to give him options when he drives into the late. This is what makes Lin so dangerous and this is how he makes his teammates better. But right now, his teammates don’t get this at all. Understanding this will increase their 3-point attempts, as well.

Lakers, in general, have no understanding of the inside-out game on both the defensive and offensive side of the floor. This is why they were so atrocious at defending the 3-ball and this is why they don’t take many three’s. Lin is often wide open at the three-point line, but no one kicks it out to him. And this is the danger of Scott’s de-emphasis of the three. And I’m not sure if fixing this will mean Scott tossing out his playbook (which might not be a bad thing). As I’ve written in the past, the Lakers need to just feast on Lin PnRs and Kobe post ups and just toss in one or two simple plays, until they get more acclimated to one another.

The last big concern I have is when or if Scott is going to realize that he needs to start Ed Davis. I realized this back on October 18th. How long is it going to take for Scott to bring Ed Davis into the starting lineup, along with Lin. During these two season openers, Davis and Lin have hardly been on the floor together and that’s just insane. Having Davis in the starting lineup is not only because of the obvious chemistry Lin and Davis have. It will also improve on spacing (as I discussed in a previous article) and it will also improve on transition defense, since Davis is way faster than Hill. Having Hill and Boozer on the starting lineup really slows the team down.

So, the list of concern is very long. But I think right now, it’s best to just take a deep breath. This Lakers team has had to deal with so many injuries and that has really affected team chemistry and their familiarity with the plays. So I think that’s a big part of their struggle. They just need time to figure things out and I’m hoping that Scott figures out a way to give Lin what Lin needs to succeed. I’m concerned that Scott is just going to alienate Lin, because he doesn’t feel that Lin is an important part of their team, due to Lin’s poor performances in the season openers. He may just continue to force Lin to fit into his offensive schemes, rather than change his schemes to better fit Lin’s talents. We’ll see.

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  • Dr. Gary (Sobbing) Teng

    When I am not in a funk or depressive mood, I am a very sanguine and optimistic person. 🙂

    Lets be honest to ourselves:

    1. Lakers is Kobe’s team.

    2. Scott owes Kobe a big one of getting the Lakers’ plum coaching job.

    These two factors combined make even Scott has to defer to Kobe. As a result, no Lakers’ players dare not to do the same.

    Therefore, Kobe still does what Kobe has been enjoying doing for soooooo long on the basketball court — ball-hogging and scoring.

    Unless one day on his way to Damascus, Kobe suddenly sees the light (i.e., realizing there are four other Lakers players scattered somewhere on the court) and decides to share some leftover dog chows with them, I will remain cautiously pessimistic about the near future of my beloved Lakers team.

    Short of this great miracle, the best thing Lin can do is to stay healthy for the time being. Remember: Even a Rolls-Royce Phantom, no matter how meticulously maintained, one day will end up in a junkyard.

  • MrPingPong

    You said it all, Philosopher!

    It seems so strange that the Lakers do not know how to set PnR at all. Basketball savvy Lakers fans from various websites are screaming for Davis to start with Lin to no avail. BS seems to be stuck with his preseason first unit lineup and would not bulge. What kind of syndrome is that?

    Switching topic to tonight’s game, I did not watch the Clippers game last night against OKC, but from what I’ve read, the Clips weren’t playing that well. I, being a delusional crazy LOF, personally believe Lin is well capable of matching up against CP3. And Kobe should have no problem handling Redick and scoring on him. I think Griffin will destroy Boozer and Jordan will manhandle Hill. I don’t have any feel for the Johnson vs Barnes match up.

    The Clips starters have been playing together as a team since forever and made the playoff last season, while the Lakers starters barely know each other’s game. Man, I’m gonna have to drink a lot of Ginger tea to calm my stomach for tonight’s game.

    Let’s spook them Clips, JL17! 🙂

  • Jeff

    Hopefully last night’s trend continues. Seemed like kobe played a lot more team basketball last night and from my experience watching kobe the last 17 years, this is nothing new — he is capable of that, but he likes to turn that on/off whenever he wants. In other words, I doubt he’ll let the offense come to him consistently throughout the season. Case in point, he forced a few times in the 4th. Those plays were probably called for him and he is still the team’s “closer”, but I thought the game was in the bag IF they continued to run through Lin and especially if they use Kobe as the decoy. It was all too predictable towards the end. But lots to LOVE and be encouraged by this game. Kobe for one seems like he is helping Jeremy out of his good church/Asian boy shell. Even said, “at some point you gotta piss on a fire hydrant”. So hopefully we see linsanity evolve into yellow mamba for 2014-2015.

  • Chirico

    Game 3 vs Clippers . I was both angry and happy.

    The referee issue we all saw last night, no calls for Lin and those who fouled him were like nothing had happened. There you go, Philosopher, double standard, sound familiar? Those were so so obvious fouls even a kid can tell. Plus the replays that serve as hard evidence. These referees were so unprofessional.

    However, I was happy Lakers played so much better than last two games as well as Jeremy Lin and Kobe were playing well.

    Jeremy Lin beat CP3 in this game. I knew the fact that Lin is just as good as CP3 long ago and this just another proof of that. Mr Pinpong , you delusion come true last night. In addition, Kobe shared the ball and encouraged Jeremy to play freely and be himself and enjoy the game.

    I got this post from some other forum, I’m not sure if it was true. According to the post, in the post game interview, Kobe were asked by reporter when was the last time his team lost but he was happy. Kobe said I could not remember any but only this one.

    • MrPingPong

      Chirico, like any delusional and crazy LOF, I believe in Lin’s ability as soon as I found out about Lin. Lin will give Curry a hard time on both ends of the floor tonight. Tired legs et al…

      Dr. Teng, please pop your Dom Peri now! It’s time to celebrate having an extra hour of sleep tomorrow! I can stay up and watch JL17 and the Lakers upset the Warriors tonight without feeling guilty in the morning! 🙂

  • Dr. Gary Teng

    A leopard never changes its spots.

    During the first three quarters of the play last night, it seemed that Kobe did put a lid on his id and let Lin be Lin.

    However, when I was just going to take out a bottle of Moët & Chandon Dom Perignon White Gold hidden underneath my bed to chill it for post-game celebration, Kobe reverted to his true self…

    And you all know the rest of the story.

    So, as long as Kobe stays healthy, I am not and I still have to take a dose of Prozac + Zoloft combo three times a day. 🙁

    The only small consolation is I saved a bottle of fine champagne for a late day.

    BTW: That blatant body-slam foul by DeAndre Jordan was so obvious that even Andrea Bocelli would have seen it from the half court. Lin may have to spend a little more time in the tanning booth before referees can see his existence.

    • Chirico

      Agree with you wholeheartedly. Dr. Teng

      • Dr. Gary Teng

        Thanks deeply, dear Chirico, for your emotional support.

        I want to make one thing crystal clear to everyone: I sincerely wish Kobe anything but ill. I just hope him to be less and less selfish as time goes by. And after watching Kobe’s post-game interview after last night’s game carefully, I start seeing some dim flicker at the end of the long and winding tunnel.

    • MrPingPong

      I recommend that you drink you Dom Peri tonight, Dr. Teng. Premature celebration or not! Champagne is no good unless you drink it. 🙂

      • D. Gary eng

        Dear Professor MrPingPong,

        I am holding the same incurable optimism about Lin’s true ability, but I still have some major reservations about Kobe’s true intention toward Lin.

        You know that once you uncork that sucker, you can’t put that genie back in the bottle.

        Fine champagne always tastes good, especially when you are in a good moon. Therefore, I will (respectfully) resist the temptation to…

        If for nothing else, just for the sake of the wine industry, go Lakers go!

        • Dr. Gary, Not sure if you’ve read my latest post, but I talk about Kobe/Lin there. I do believe Kobe’s intentions with Lin are pure. I think in Lin, Kobe feels like he’s found an insightful mind. And that’s what Kobe can relate to with Lin. That’s a big reason why he shares so much with Lin and has taken Lin under his wing.

          • Dr. Gary (the Dreamer) Teng

            Dear Philosopher King,

            I did read your latest post the minute after you posted it.

            I do believe that Kobe means well for Lin. But Kobe’s good intentions alone won’t cut for me. Talks are cheap. He has to show that he is willing to give up his tendency of taking over the game and playing hero ball during the crunch time before I am 100% convinced that a leopard can change its spots.

            Dear Professor MrPingPong,

            I am pretty sure that you, just like me, are still licking your open gushing wounds. 🙁

            Per your directive, I did break that bottle of champagne after watching that painful game last night. But I didn’t drink it. Instead, I took a soothing bubbling champagne bath. I then swallowed a double dose of Prozac + Zoloft combo before I went to bed and started fantasizing and hallucinating…

            I had a dream that one day Kobe would realize that he would be judged not only by the points he scored, but the content of his character.

          • MrPingPong

            Doc Dreamer: you have gone completely over the top! I never could have dreamed of taking a Dom Peri bubble bath to assuage the growing pain of Lin and the Lakers.

            OK, so my latest voodoo magic anti-jinx did not work for Lin last night. Back to the Ouija board for me…

          • Haha, Dr Dreamer!

            Leopards don’t change their spots–and especially not overnight. Like I wrote in my article, THIS Kobe is still going to be the Kobe of old in stretches. Just won’t be as much as it used to be over time. But it’ll take time. Not going to suddenly change everything overnight. That’s humanly impossible. But I think the intent is there.

            I know you’re talking to Professor MrPingPong, but I’m actually not licking my opening wounds. The game went pretty much how I expected. I predicted a blowout in my article. In fact, I was shocked the Lakers came out so strong in the first quarter. They played better than I expected overall. I think there were positive signs.

            I’m taking a wait-and-see approach with Lin and the Lakers these days. Just going to lay back and see what happens and not overreact too much game-to-game. Just let it all unfold and then maybe pick it apart once things settle into place. But I think right now, everything is in flux, so it’s futile to try and pick things apart. Nothing has settled, yet. This team is still trying to figure things out and they’re still trying to figure each other out. But I see positive signs and I’m encouraged.

            Lakers have had a very tough schedule, so it’s very much expected that they would go 0-4 in this stretch.

    • MrPingPong

      Dr. (Animal Kingdom) Teng: Is BS a leopard too? How many leopards are there on our beloved Lakers team do you reckon? 🙂

      • Dr. Gary Teng

        Dear (Nutty) Professor,

        I am very flattered that you are seeking direction from me — a semi-blind grumpy old man with strong bias. 🙂

        Based on my humble opinions, there are no other leopards on our beloved Lakers team. Furthermore, BS is not as dumb as he looks and he is also corrigible.

        However, as I stated before that due to the facts the Lakers is still very much Kobe’s team and BS owes Kobe a big favor of getting his present dream job, BS’s hands are relatively tied and Kobe is calling most of the shots (albeit behind the scene.) Presently, there is nothing much BS can do to in terms of controlling Kobe’s animal instinct.

        The good/bad news is that IF Kobe keeps on playing in current fashion and at current pace, soon his rebuilt body will be crumbling down and totally falling apart. Just like seeing your beloved teenager daughter sneaking back to her room late at night with a Gideon Bible in her hands, that will by no means a small mixed blessing.

        Very dog has its day…

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3zboUuLHoE

        • MrPingPong

          Thank you, Doc (Don’t Look Back) Teng, for sharing your thoughts on Kobe, the leopard, and the corrigible coach BS. Are you saying that Lin should be like Gideon leading our beloved Lakers to victory tonight?

          From what I’ve read, Kobe took Wes Johnson under his wings and worked out with him all summer long. But Wes has not much to show in these first four games. So may be Kobe is not a good teacher, or Wes is not a good student, or a little bit of both. This makes me think that may be our man Lin should stop taking lessons from Kobe but should just go out and do his things instead! 🙂

          It’s game day at home against the Suns for our beloved Lakers. In case you haven’t seen it, this is a short video on Lin’s practice yesterday:

          http://www.tout.com/m/b60tfo

          All Lin needs is a few good screens for him to attack the enemy and create plays for the rest of the teammates.

          On a separate note, it’s official: Lin’s tenure with the Rockets the last two seasons is one of the low points in his young career, as stated in this interview at around the 6:45 min mark.

          http://youtu.be/GsccQGIWCzs

          Have a great day/afternoon/evening everyone, wherever you are on the WEB!

          • Dr. Gary Teng

            Dear Professor MrPingPong,

            I Don’t Look Back. I only dwell on the past. 🙂

            Thanks for the two enclosed video links. They are very informational.

            Could it be that Wes Johnson got suffocated under Kobe’s huge flimsy wings?!

            To be fair, Kobe can be an excellent mentor in teaching fine-grain basket techniques, but he is a terrible role model in terms of playing styles. Lin has extremely high IQ as well as EQ. He will distinguish between the two sides of Kobe and copy the former and avoid the latter.

            In the post-practice interview yesterday, Lin stressed the importance of PnR to create space and opportunity for him and his teammates. So far, only Davis has provided consistent and reliable picks for Lin. In the past four games, Davis has performed significant better (with fewer minutes of playing time) than the starter power forward Boozer as evident in nearly every stats. Unfortunately, the stubborn Scott indicated, most likely due to company politics, that he had no intention of replacing Boozer with Davis as the starter in the foreseeable future. What a shame!

            I firmly believe that from the outset, the Rockets’ front office and coaching staff had no intention to let Lin be the Rockets’ floor general. Furthermore, it was more than obvious that McHell was determined from the very beginning to sabotage Lin’s confidence and talent to ruin Lin’s NBA career. (One should not be too surprised if he/she knows that McHell was an extremely selfish and dirty basketball player when he was playing with the Celtics.)

            Even in the post-Kobe era, the Lakers has have a plethora of problems need to be overcome before it can turn into a playoff contending team.

            Yes!!! I am cautious optimistic (50.1%) that Lin the Mighty Warrior will lead the Lakers to a badly needed victory tonight.

            Lets have our fingers (including toes) crossed.

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  • Dr. Gary Teng

    Any NBA basketball team allows a 37-year-old player to skip the practice the day before the game, then play for 44:15 minutes during the game, and shoot the ball 37 times (this number did not include 5 additional shots which were fouled so they did not count as shots attempted) does NOT deserve to win. Period!!!

    Case closed and class dismissed!