The Los Angeles Lakers finally have a head coach. On Sunday, they agreed to a deal with Byron Scott, who will be their third head coach in the last four years. The question is whether or not he can take this team from the Western Conference dumps and return them to contention.
Is Scott The Man For The Job?
Coaching the Lakers is always a challenge as there’s plenty of critics on the sidelines, ownership demands championships and Kobe Bryant wants things done his way. We saw all of those things torpedo Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni – two men who recently manned the post – and now it’s Scott’s job.
There’s a perception that Scott is a pretty good NBA coach but let’s take a look at his track record. He had a pretty good run with the New Jersey Nets, taking them to the NBA Finals in back-to-back seasons in 2002 and 2003. However, since then, he’s done very little. He got a shot in New Orleans and after three consecutive seasons where they missed the playoffs, he coached them to a division title and an appearance in the Western Conference Finals. He couldn’t get beyond that point and was canned. Most recently, he tried his hand with the Cleveland Cavaliers but couldn’t get anything better than a fifth-place in the Central with them in three seasons, so he was canned. Last year, he was out of coaching.
It’s hard to say just how good Scott is. He’s shown the ability to guide teams deep into the playoffs but not consistently. The general perception is he’s above average but only two playoff appearances in the last 11 years speaks otherwise.
What Do The Lakers Have To Work With?
The Lakers swung for the fences this offseason and tried to sign Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and even Chris Bosh. In the end, they struck out on all three and then watched Pau Gasol take less money to play with the Chicago Bulls. Then they dished out $9 M for Jordan Hill (for some crazy reason) and picked up formerly benched starters Jeremy Lin (Houston) and Carlos Boozer (Chicago). They also signed Ed Davis and drafted Julius Randle to create a huge logjam at power forward while neglecting the forward and center positions. That leaves a starting lineup that likely features Lin/Steve Nash, Bryant, someone at small forward (maybe Xavier Henry), Boozer and maybe Hill at center. Off the bench they’ll have Nick Young, Lin/Nash, Davis, Randle and Ryan Kelly. In the rugged West, this doesn’t look good.
How To Bet The News
The fact of the matter is that the Lakers had the second-worst record in the West last season and haven’t done much to improve. Bryant is 36-years-old and it looks like they’ll waste at least one of his good seasons left – assuming he’s back and healthy.
On the surface, it may look like a lineup of Lin, Bryant and Boozer, and a bench with Nash, Young and Randle could be the foundation of a playoff team but that’s assuming Lin regains his MVP form, Boozer plays like a respectable power forward once again and that Bryant is healthy. If those three things happen, this team could return to being a decent home bet against the spread after finishing with the worst home record in the West last season.
But the reality to keep in mind when placing your NBA betting picks this season, is that the Lakers are just treading water. It’s a failed offseason and everyone is just waiting for them to try and land another big free agent next season. Whether or not that happens, that’s to be seen. For now, this is a team that’s not anywhere close to being in the top-eight in the West. Even the Utah Jazz may have lapped them. They’ll compete for worst in the West with the Sacramento Kings.
As a side note, you’d have to consider betting a lot of overs with this team. Boozer, Young and Lin can chip in about 20 a game the odd night, and this team should be flat-out horrendous defensively.