We're too young, we're too small, we play too fast, and we don't have any legitimate superstars. And the Lakers are so good we couldn't get to the Finals even if we make the playoffs. Our defense isn't good enough, and we have questions about the health of our starting center. It's hard to see what the roster plan is. Have I missed anything? Oh yeah, we trade our best young players with amazing potential so we can't get better, and we have an amazing history of losing. Granted I'm crazy, but even so - do I really think there is ANY chance of this team winning a championship? GIven all that? I sure do - find out why after the jump.
Why do I think it's possible? It's been done.
Imagine a team that has never had a winning season. Their center is fragile - very fragile. In the off-season they acquire a double-double power forward. They trade the best young big prospect in the league - a future Hall of Famer who admittedly is 18 years old at the time. The Lakers have the best big in the game, arguably ever, in his prime, and a pretty loaded roster. Our mystery starting lineup looks like this:
- C: 6'11, 210, 24 yo
- PF: 6'9, 215, 24 yo
- SF: 6'6, 200, 23 yo
- PG: 6'2, 180, 22 yo
- SG: 6'3, 185, 23 yo
(a little smaller (17lbs, less than an inch) and a little younger (about a year) than the dubs, if our starting lineup doesn't change.)
They manage to finish second in their division. The number 1 team in the division falls off in the playoffs after winning the championship the prior year. Our mystery team put together an amazing playoff run, punctuated by their fragile center consistently (and barely) outplaying the Laker center straight up. They play at a 108 pace (faster than the dubs). Astonishingly, BOTH starting bigs end the year with double-doubles (supposedly "impossible" to do). They run an amazing break, keyed by the rebounding and passing of either big. And that season was the start of decades of winning basketball.
Old timers may recognize the team at this point. There are some major differences - the mystery team was good on defense, and the talent level *may* have been better, although in one case it unquestionably was.
Oh.... it's the '76-77 Blazers. The team that fell off in the playoffs was the Warriors. Kareem was the Laker. Moses Malone was the traded high-potential big. While at this point AB is nowhere near Walton (including missed games to this point in his career), I'd be interested in putting Lee against Maurice Lucas, and DWright against Bobby Gross. Steph and Ellis are as fast as Hollins and Davis, and Steph looks like he's going to be better than either of them. Lin sure isn't Twardzik off the bench, but if he never takes an outside shot and is willing to drive, drive, drive he could fill that role. Morrow would have been nice to keep in the Larry Steele role, but I think Reggie will do fine as the backup swing. BWright and Udoh combined are potentially better than Lloyd Neal.
So let me be clear here - I don't think we will win a championship this year, but it's possible if: the bench is strengthened just a bit; everyone stays healthy; and Biedrens catches fire at just the right time.
I'm fairly sure this is the model that Riley (and Lacob) have been looking at, especially since Lacob made the comment about running teams needing two rebounding bigs to win. Call me crazy, but it just might work, and it would definitely work better than trading any of this team for an overhyped scorer in the FA market.