The State of the Lakers, and the First Anniversary of Kobe's Death ... Guest, Kyle Goon
This week the Lakers will pass the quarter pole on the 2020-21 season, and things on the court are going well. The Lakers start the week 13-4, and on most nights find their biggest flaw to be a tendency to let teams eat into large leads they've built up, rather than continuing to roll that opponent out of the building.
Of course, that means they have to build that lead to begin with, no easy feat in the NBA. First world problems, for sure.
That the Lakers are good isn't surprising. That they're this good, despite clearly not putting forth 100 percent effort as a team? That's the first question we ask Kyle Goon, who covers the team for The Southern California News Group. Why have things clicked so quickly? Is it simply a matter of upgrading talent? We break down why the Lakers starting lineup, dominant last year, has been even more so this season.
There is still some conversation around the starting lineup, and whether Dennis Schroder should be in it (especially as he suffers through a brutal January offensively), but what about the closing lineup? Against the Bucks last week, Frank Vogel finished with LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso and Schroder. Is this the lineup people should expect, all things being equal?
From there, we turn to the other significant news of the week. Tuesday marks the one-year anniversary of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others. It remains a profoundly difficult tragedy, particularly in Los Angeles and in NBA circles. It is, for a great many people, very difficult to talk about. But the Lakers still keep Kobe central to the season, not just as an organization but as a team. They still break huddles with "1-2-3 Mamba," for example. At the same time, interest in Kobe is real. Stories about him, remembrances of him, and so on. He continues to drive conversation, and generating content about him is undoubtedly an easy way to generate interest.
So what's the line between responsible and respectful coverage of a legitimate news event and engaging in something more exploitative of his memory? Where the motivation shifts from serving the audience to serving the content creator? We talk with Kyle about that challenge. How he's handling it personally, and the ways in which trying to tell this story while hamstrung by COVID-based restrictions complicates things. His is still a complicated life to memorialize, as well. It's an interesting conversation for sure, one that gets into the nuts and bolts of how the work gets done.
We wrap with a discussion about relative weaknesses... that may not be really that weak. How poorly is Wes Matthews actually playing, and how might it get fixed?