Every Monday during the NBA season The Hoops Manifesto and its Bloguin bredren team up to answer some of the burning questions from the world of the NBA. In this edition we discuss Jerry West’s criticisms of the Lakers, decide if Kevin Love is All-Star worthy and ponder the Hornets playoff prospects.
Contributors: Jeff Fox from The Hoops Manifesto, Diego from Leaving It All On The Court, Aaron Hodges and Peaceman from Knicks Fanatics, Philip from Orlando Magic Daily, College Wolf from TWolves Blog, Brendan from Stepien Rules, Sean Francois from Hoops Head North, and brumbygg & Don from With Malice.
1) Jerry West has come out and called the Lakers old and lacking defensively – agree or disagree with Logo?
“I’m not buying what Logo is selling. Maybe they look old and defensively deficient right now, but wait until May rolls around. Pretty sure they’ll be looking just fine by then.” – Jeff Fox
“First of all, West didn’t say that. West said that there’s a correlation between the Lakers’ age, and defensive inconsistency. And while I don’t necessarily disagree with what he said, I also don’t disagree with the Lakers’ response – that their combined basketball IQ and ability will enable them to play a suitable level of defense. In short, I think the Lakers will be fine. If you want to do some hand-wringing, do it over the Heat’s 1-5 run.” – Don
“Jerry West has somewhat of a point, although I don’t think it’s their age – but like he said a lack of effort defensively. They seem to not have that fire or ability to put teams away early by keeping the pedal to the metal. The Lakers have lost more games to this point in the season than I expected. We’ll see if they change their approach come the playoffs, but I believe it’s pretty hard to turn intensity off and on. Having injuries is one thing, but the Lakers are relatively healthy right now.” - Sean Francois
“I think the Lakers are just bored. They are still great defensively when they want/need to be. The regular season is a marathon. No sense exerting themselves every night at their advanced ages. At least, that’s what I think they are thinking. They know they’ll make the playoffs. So, I guess I halfway agree with Mr. West.” – College Wolf
“The Lakers are old and are lacking defensively, however, they can’t change old but they can and will step it up on both ends come playoff time.” – Peaceman
“I agree, but I also can’t help but remember the similar things being said about the “aging Celtics” last season. The C’s put it together for the playoff push, and I gotta think that’s the Lakers’ mentality right now as well. I’d guess their well aware of how many miles they have left at this stage, and I’d also guess their managing that to some degree (whether we like to think teams do that in the regular season or not). So he is right, but that doesn’t mean they still don’t have a run left in them come June.” – Brendan
“The Los Angeles Lakers currently rank tenth in points allowed – 96.3 – but I can see where Jerry West is coming from. Derek Fisher was once a solid defensive player; age has seemingly caught up with him, and the Lakers have trouble defending the top-tier point guards of the NBA. Ron Artest hasn’t played that well all season long. His antics are starting to creep up more. Perhaps it is merely Artest showing his true colors. People can behave for a little while, but sooner or later they’ll show their true selves. The ultimate test for the Lakers will come in the playoffs. If they do not come out of the Western Conference — which is a very realistic possibility – their age will undoubtedly come into question. It’s too early to say that the team is lacking defensively. If the Lakers can buckle down on in the playoffs, no one will remember what West said.” – Diego Quezada
“I’m the Celtics guy here, so I’m not going to play the ‘old’ card! The Lakers certainly aren’t playing good D right now, but I don’t think that age is the reason why. I think we’re seeing a little complacency, a little “ho hum regular season, wake me when the playoffs start”. Write off the Lakers at your own peril.” - brumbygg
“There’s been plenty of infighting for the Lakers this year so Jerry figured he’d get in on the action. He’s right about them getting old. As for defense, I watch the Knicks on a regular basis. What is this defense thing you speak of?” – Aaron Hodges
“Eventually it is going to be true, I just don’t know if it is true now. Kobe Bryant is undoubtedly a different player. He is practicing differently and preparing for games differently. But it is all with a mind of being 100% come playoff time and being able to take care of business then. I have no doubt that he will be at this point. This is still a fantastic team, and I feel confident they will kick it back into high gear by April.” – Philip
2) There’s a hot debate going on right now (especially between Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith) over whether or not Kevin Love should (and will) be an All-Star this year. Which side of the debate do you support?
“Abso-lutely. I don’t care if the team he plays for is crappy – as hoops writer Kelly Dwyer so rightly stated the other day, there’s been hundreds of crappy teams in the past yet no player has put up the numbers that Kevin Love has been posting this year. And, besides, they’ll be enough room on the All-Star roster for deserving players from the top teams out West plus for Love.” - Jeff Fox
“Hell no. Love’s objective out there is for his own statistical glory. He has come right out and said that he is chasing the rebounding record. I do believe that the T-Wolves would win more games IF he worried less about his stats and more about the game. Sure, he gets boards… but I think his team and individual defense has actually gotten worse. He appears to be more concerned with the rebounding title than how his team does.” - Don
“I feel Kevin Love should be an All-Star. Sure it’s unfortunate that he’s on a team that hasn’t had much success and there will always be people who believe that it’s easier to be a star on a poor team than one on an established team, but let’s be honest. 30 points & 30 rebounds? Seven 20/20 games this season, 42 double-doubles?! You’re an All-Star when you’re doing that night in and night out.” – Sean Francois
“I just don’t see how Love can make it as an All-Star in the LOADED Western Conference for forwards. I mean, you’ve got Durant, Dirk, Carmelo, Randolph, Griffin, Aldridge, Duncan (technically), Gasol, etc. Love certainly has the stats, but the Wolves are currently a putrid 11-36, and guys on losing teams just don’t make it to All-Star games in the NBA (Fact. Look it up.) Plus it’s in LA, so I don’t see how Blake Griffin doesn’t steal one of the last spots, leaving Love as the 13th man, in my opinion.” – College Wolf
“I don’t know Barkley & Smith’s positions, however, Love should be an All Star this year. 21.6 ppg & 15.6 rpg??? In fact..Kevin Love should market “Windex” the Glass Cleaner.” - Peaceman
“There’s a lot of quality forwards right now in that pool of players for George Karl to pick from, but I’d give Love the nod and think he’s deserving. The irrelevance of the T-Wolves doesn’t help his cause obviously, nor does his squad losing 11 of their last 12 heading into Sunday, but he’s been a monster. 21.6 points per to go along with a rebounds per game mark (15.7) that’s leading the Association at a clip that’s over two full rpg more per game than Dwight Howard’s second place average of 13.4? What more do you want the guy to do?” – Brendan
“The Minnesota Timberwolves may have only won 10 games this season, but one player can only do so much. Last year, Chris Bosh made the All-Star Game with a team that failed to reach the playoffs. The West has a lot of elite forwards that could all make a strong case for an All-Star selection: Dirk Nowitzki, Love, Tim Duncan and Blake Griffin. To me, Love and Blake Griffin should make the trip to L.A. - they are both having phenomenal seasons. Love is on pace to be the first player since Moses Malone to average 20 points and 15 boards per game. I see the coaches selecting Duncan as a reserve, though. San Antonio has the best record in the League, so the coaches will want to send more than one representative. The coaches will probably snub Love out, but the UCLA product may have had a better chance if Carmelo Anthony didn’t get voted in as a starter. The coaches may not have voted him in.” – Diego Quezada
“The All-Star game is a high school popularity contest and the cool kids get to go to the dance. Kevin Love is one of the cool kids and will probably go to the All-Star game. Having said that, he’s about as deserving of going as Paris Hilton is of winning an Academy Award….” – brumbygg
“Kevin Love leads the league in rebounding and is top 20 in scoring. I don’t care how bad the rest of his team is. If he’s putting up those numbers he has to be an All-Star.” – Aaron Hodges
“I like Kevin Love. He is a great player and is an instinctual rebounder. There has not been anybody putting up these kinds of rebounding numbers. He is not a bad offensive player either. Most years, I would say he is an All-Star. But I kind of feel like he is not at that level yet. Minnesota’s record is not helping. He does not have that “wow” factor you want for an All-Star game. I would not be upset if he made it by any stretch. I just don’t know if he is a guy I would build a roster around like you would a typical All-Star.” – Philip
3) The New Orleans Hornets very quietly compiled a great record in January (12-4). Will they be a threat in the playoffs or are they destined for a first round exit?
“They’re a much better team this season than the past few seasons, with Chris Paul playing at a MVP-level, David West quietly putting up his usual numbers and Emeka Okafor providing them an inside, defensive presence. But the West is far too competitive for the Hornets to go very deep in the playoffs.” – Jeff Fox
“No threat. Sure: they’re playing well now. But a decisive lack of depth, and coupled with the fact that it wasn’t that long ago that they went 7-9 in December. Even on current form, I very much doubt as to whether they could beat a top 4 Western team in a seven game series (Spurs, Lakers, Dallas, OKC).” – Don
“Depending on who the Hornets match up against in the 1st round of the NBA Playoffs I believe will dictate their success. If they get a favourable match up, or if they rise to the challenge and win their 1st round series they will be a team rolling with confidence and we all know anything can happen that time of year.” – Sean Francois
“As long as Chris Paul is healthy, they are always a threat. The rest of the team is playing stellar, and they are somehow one of the best defensive teams in the league this season. I wouldn’t look at them as an easy first round opponent by any means.” – College Wolf
“The NOH will be one and done. Why? They are not as good as record. The other WC teams (Thunder the exception) are older and coasting through the regular season. Watch the Lakers, Spurs, Suns turn it up while NOH are already giving all they have!” – Peaceman
“I gotta think they’re a first round exit type team, taking nothing away from what they’ve done so far in the regular season. Chris Paul and even Okafor are averaging double-doubles of varying degress, West’s playing well and Ariza’s had his moments, and I even like Jack as a backup point guard, but I don’t know really…I just don’t see them as a threat. Just not a believer in “swarm city” I suppose.” – Brendan
“Despite New Orleans’ surge, they are still the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. The Hornets are not a title-contending team, so I can’t imagine this team going past the second round of the playoffs. I’m not even sure that that they could beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in a seven-game series. Russell Westbrook can match up well with Chris Paul, but who is going to keep Kevin Durant in check? Eventually, I see the Hornets getting bounced in the first round, and we’ll start to hear Chris Paul rumors all over again.” – Diego Quezada
“I like the way NOH have approached this season and particularly the way they are playing right now. But they don’t have the depth to make a run into the playoffs. Depending on the matchup they could make the second round, but that’s all she wrote.” – brumbygg
“The New Orleans Hornets have a chance to advance in the playoffs…….if they are matched up against Oklahoma City or Utah at the four and five seeds. No way in hell they can beat the Spurs, Lakers, or the Mavericks in a playoff series.” – Aaron Hodges
“The Hornets have been extremely streaky this year and I think ultimately they will see a first-round exit in their future. New Orleans does not have a consistent enough offense outside of David West and Chris Paul to keep things going and I think they are still figuring themselves out on defense. They will be a dangerous team, but ultimately I do not think this team will be much of a threat in the West.” – Philip
4) Finally, every week we’ll be picking a Game of the Week that we will predict a consensus winner of. This week’s game – Thurs, Feb 3rd – Miami @ Orlando
Record so far: 5-5
Consensus: Orlando (seven votes to three)