In the latest (and only..so far) edition of Fastbreak Points, I tackle the raging and non-extinguishable dumpster fire that is the Los Angeles Lakers; as well as other goodies you may have missed this season.
So does everyone remember that show “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?”? Well, I’m currently in the process of developing a similar game show with TNT. It’s tentatively titled “Are You Smarter Than Byron Scott?”. I think it’s going to be a huge hit and I’m really excited about it you guys! It’s kind of a spin-off show where instead of facing off against a real 5th grader, you face off with a real NBA coach who has the basketball IQ of a 5th grader.
Here’s how you play:
If, at any point, Byron Scott plays Nick Young over D’Angelo Russell in the 4th quarter, YOU WIN!
If, at any point, in his post-game press conference Byron Scott mentions old-fashioned rebounding drills or “manning up,” YOU WIN!
If, at any point, Byron Scott plays 37-year-old Kobe Bryant over 37 minutes in a game, YOU WIN!
If, at any point, Byron Scott substitutes Marcelo Huertas into a game, YOU WIN!
Unfortunately, “Are You Smarter Than Byron Scott?” doesn’t give away any cash prizes (yet), but winning participants do gain the gratifying knowledge that they are more intelligent than a real-life NBA coach. But we here at TNT are very generous, and if, for some reason, you lose (very unlikely), those losing participants will get to take home either a Ryan Kelly or Robert Sacre signed jersey.
Yes, I know my wit is legendary.
Although this game show isn’t actually in production (as far as I know), we still need to discuss how abhorrent and dysfunctional the Lakers are. I know this is something that will be talked about all season long, but we need to review everything that has made these Lakers what they are today.
Okay, now I’m going to ask you a question and be honest with yourself when coming to an answer. Before the season started did you actually believe the Lakers could win 45 games? 40 games? How about 35 games? If you answered yes to any of those benchmarks, you are either a blindly ignorant Lakers fan, Mitch Kupchak, or a very naive Kobe sympathizer. How on earth was this season supposed to work out for the Lakers?
Besides the fact that Byron Scott is a complete dolt, the team is also in the incapable hands of Mitch Kupchak, who has failed to adapt and is slowly falling off the edges of those Phil Jackson coat-tails. Even with having the No. 2 overall pick this summer, the off-season should still be categorized as an unmitigated disaster. This includes retaining Byron Scott, as well as the front office falling flat on their face trying to woo elite free agents this summer. Wow, who could’ve seen that coming…
— “Hey, LaMarcus it’s Byron Scott. What if I told you that you could come to LA and play with Kobe and the one and only Swaggy P? Is that something you might be interested in?
What’s a scary thought is that if the Lakers actually decided to draft Russell because they assumed a top tier free agent like Aldridge or Greg Monroe would ultimately sign there, and drafting Jahlil Okafor or Kristaps Porzingis would create a surplus of talented big men that Byron Scott just could not handle rotating.
I know this has all been discussed thoroughly because we’ve had a lot of time to digest free agency and the draft. But really this is the root of the problem for the Lakers (besides Byron Scott being a terrible coach). It’s one thing to fail miserably by purposefully tanking, but it’s another to fail miserably thinking you have a chance at a playoff birth.
It’s like Kupchak is the captain of the Titanic, and after they hit the iceberg he just doesn’t acknowledge or believe the ship is sinking even when he’s up to his knees in ocean water.
The roster is set up to fail in so many ways. Mitch Kupchak had another brilliant idea when he decided to sign Lou Williams, basically just because he could—which seems like a poor reason to sign a free agent and waste millions of dollars.
The silver-lining for the Lakers last season was discovering Jordan Clarkson being a legitimate talent. So, of course, it only makes sense that Kupchak and Scott are going to put out that flame as fast as they possibly can.
I mean for God’s sake, they signed Metta World Peace, who hasn’t even played in the league for two years. This is basically just a cry for help from Mitch Kupchak. What were conversations like between him and ownership?
“Hey, I think I’m gonna sign Metta. Seems like we could really use a forward who is way past his prime and has been out of the league for a few seasons. But we’re totally gonna win 50 games this year, so we need another vet off the bench.”
— “I know it’s a great idea, but does anybody have any qualms with that?”
So hey, let’s just throw Lou Williams into a rotation of Kobe Bryant, Nick Young, Jordan Clarkson, and D’Angelo Russell and see what happens. Because it’s not like any of those guys, like to shoot the ball a ton. And another thing, let’s move a decrepit Kobe Bryant to SF to open up some minutes for 32-year-old rookie Marcelo Huertas. Because he’s 37 and maybe it’s time for him to try a new position.
Here is one parable I’m going to make because this scene is running back and forth in my head as I write this.
In “Friday Night Lights” when coach Gaines goes to put in Chris Colmer because the game is a runaway and he wants to protect Boobie Miles. Colmer loses his helmet and ultimately Gaines is forced to put Boobie back in the game, where he then subsequently tears up his knee.
Guys, Byron Scott is Coach Gaines (disregard the fact that they went to the State Title game in the movie). Byron doesn’t want to deal with incompetence and rookies who make mistakes like D’Angelo (Chris Colmer), so he just reverts to and plays the guys where he knows what he’s going to get for better or worse (Kobe=Boobie Miles). Also, Byron Scott is running Kobe into the ground, and injury ultimately seems to be on the horizon.
*Also just imagine I photo-shopped this and put Kobe, D’Angelo, and Byron’s head on the bodies*
Wait for it…here comes another sports movie analogy.
Lakers fans need to organize and protest and be like the guys from “Celtic Pride” when they root for the Jazz and Lewis Scott at the end of the movie. The Jazz coach benches Scott for being late to the arena until they bully the coach from behind the bench to put him in the game. Staunch and smart Lakers fans need to sit right behind the team bench and yell at Byron Scott whenever he makes a stupid substitution and bully him to give D’Angelo Russell at least 35 minutes a night.
FYI: sports movies can be applied to everything in the universe. This is a fact.
Anyway, back to the Lakers ineptitude.
What makes this putrid attempt at mediocrity more embarrassing is that they will almost certainly be handing over their (likely very high) top-three protected first-round pick to Philadelphia. The Lakers continue to shoot themselves in the foot and now will once again rely on free agency to cover up weaknesses.
But it becomes increasingly harder to sell potential free agents on coming to LA, with the team seemingly having a limited future. This isn’t an indictment on D’Angelo Russell because he isn’t being given the full opportunity; but if the team can’t showcase their young talent, free agents will once again scoff at the opportunity to play there.
Kelly Scaletta did a great job of reviewing some of this last week in his article where he outlines how incompetently Scott is handling D’Angelo Russell, but here are some more recent quotes where he goes off the deep end.
Byron Scott: “Our guys gave an effort, but I thought their effort was 10 times better."
How do you fix that?
"It’s all about manning up."
— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) November 17, 2015
Byron Scott promises old-school boxing out drills during practice: "Oh, yeah. We’re definitely having them this week. I guarantee you."
— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) November 17, 2015
Scott: "I keep hearing about this ‘back-to-back.’ That to me is a bunch of crap. It really is. It’s basketball. You come ready to play."
— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) November 17, 2015
You can sense here that Byron Scott is slowly slipping into the abyss of senility. Either that or he’s just so ingrained in his former perception of the league and still clings to his older habits to when he was actually a relevant name in coaching. Like seriously, what decade does Byron think we’re in? This isn’t high school or college; the players aren’t going to respond to a coaches intimidation tactics.
Next week at Lakers practice I heard they’re going to be running suicides and if anyone messes up Byron Scott is canceling the team’s pep rally.
The Lakers finding out what they have D’Angelo as quickly as possible is integral to this team’s future. What justice is Scott doing the Lakers by holding Russell back? In a way, he’s unintentionally sabotaging the team and his future job prospects. Mitch Kupchak being a bystander to this atrocity also isn’t helping. Firing Byron Scott and replacing him with literally anyone willing to play Russell through all the rookie trials and tribulations is far better than what they have now.
If you’re a Lakers fan, and you’ve actually read up to this point (probably out of spite), you might be questioning my ability to accurately describe the state of the franchise. I mean this could be a legitimate argument; I live on the East Coast, I rarely watch Lakers games, and completely omitted the discussion of promising PF Julius Randle (until right now).
Well, here’s my answer:
The reason I can write a take-down of the Lakers is because I have two eyes and what I call “basketball common sense”, and anyone that has those things can clearly see how poorly managed and coached this team is.
Is there some saving grace that I am missing? Did I misstep and overlook some glaring upward trend?
Answer: No, I didn’t.
I’m not going to poo-poo on the Kobe Bryant farewell tour because I have too much respect for the Lower Merion High School graduate. But this organization really needs to examine itself in the mirror and start plugging away and diagnosing a way to fix the future of this franchise that seems increasingly bleaker by the day.
Of course, the Lakers front office doesn’t think like this or are too blind to realize that the only way they can improve is by tanking the rest of the year (reclaiming their first-round pick) and selling off as many guys as they can not named Russell or Randle. Because realistically it might be the only real plausible way of turning their fortunes around.
Fastbreak Points: ICYMI
Quin Snyder owes his recent NBA coaching career to a pizza delivery boy
Former Missouri basketball coach, and now present coach of the Utah Jazz Quin Snyder,` described an instance back when he was at Mizzou where a pizza delivery boy decided to give him a little more than he asked for with his pizza. The delivery boy had drawn up a lob play for his Missouri Tigers knowing he was in route to Snyder’s home.
Quin Snyder says a Dominos driver at Missouri once drew a lob play on the back of Quin's delivery – "It was better than anything I had."
— Ben Dowsett (@Ben_Dowsett) November 3, 2015
He’s my take:
This pizza boy may be responsible for Snyder’s rise to the NBA. How do we know if Snyder hasn’t used this play to catapult himself into the league, and now has benefits and means well beyond what a pizza delivery boy attain. Maybe if we could bring this to the Supreme Court, do some detective work through Snyder’s files just to make sure there aren’t any napkins or plates that have the lob play of lore on them. I think it’s only fair until proven otherwise that Snyder hires this guy as an assistant with the Jazz or splits his paycheck with him.
This whole thing makes me wonder what other idiot savant delivery boys have gone unrecognized? Maybe we will never know…
The Portland Trail Blazers are plagiarists
I was appalled as you are when I discovered this. If you’re managing a team’s social media page, there should probably be a prerequisite of knowing a little bit about the league in general. “Trust the process” is a mantra that is purely a Sixers thing at the moment. But to set up the Blazers twitter bio as “trust the process” is truly upsetting. Thank God a bunch of Sixers fans bullied them into changing back. The Portland social media admin quickly found out that Philly fans aren’t that receptive and forgiving about stuff.
TJ McConnell is a thing
Slap the hardwood vet/coaches’ son/grit expert TJ McConnell is currently the starting PG for the Philadelphia 76ers and he is bringing hope to millions of young white kids who will never grow to be over six feet tall who still dream of one day making it in the NBA.
TJ is taking the reigns from Matthews Dellavedova as this year’s surprise gritty white point guard. As good as TJ has been, we can’t forget about his fallen brethren who have a paved a way for him to get his shot and enter the league. Here’s to you, Gerry McNamara, Aaron Craft, Greg Paulus, Drew Neitzel, and many others that I can’t remember.
Evan Fournier’s recent boost in google search history
I hope by now you’ve been warned not to google “Fournier” because it is terrifying and will haunt your dreams for eternity. As bad as “internet Fournier” is, this has got to be a great time be the real Evan Fournier. Whoever thought this guy would be so relevant that people are warning other people not to google him?
To recap: Bad moment in time for your internet search history. Great time to be Evan Fournier.
Full-court shots need to count for points
Jae Crowder had an inbound pass travel 94 feet, in the basket, and this didn’t count for points. I mean how ancient and archaic are these NBA rules. Why has a full-court not been deemed to count for at least five points by now. It’s almost 2016 people! Full-court heaves, whether they are inbound passes or not, need to be counted for points!
No one in the league is Greg Hardy, and that’s good news
We’ve heard a lot about garbage-incarnated Greg Hardy lately, mostly because he is filth and that is a hot-button issue in the NFL where arrests records grow on trees. But I think it’s appropriate to take a second and appreciate that the NBA is not facing a problem like this.
Even in baseball (Jose Reyes) they are experiencing this issue. The NBA never claimed to be the league of “good guys”, but right now this seems like a great time for the association. Clean-cut, wholesome players and ELITE players like Steph Curry and Anthony Davis are flourishing faces of the league and I don’t think we could pick two better people to eventually take the torch from LeBron.
This week in NBA Food News
Burritos, chocolate candy bars, and McDonalds are the flavor of the week for Kelly Olynyk, Spencer Dinwiddie and the entire Warriors team. Bon Apetit!