Being in attendance at last night's Lakers game against the New Orleans Pelicans was to glimpse the future of the NBA. As has been breathlessly outlined, Anthony Davis truly has the appearance of being a once in a generation superstar. As Drew stated in his recap of the game, while Davis did not crank into the extra gear he is capable of, that was almost the scariest thing about his game against the Lakers: How effortless it all looked. Seriously, check out the guy's shot chart:
This is related to the Lakers in some sense because of how the paths of these two franchises are inexorably linked due to their infamously aborted Chris Paul Trade. Just to throw salt in these still unhealed wounds one more time; in Mitch Kupchak, Daryl Morey, and Dell Demps infamously vetoed transaction, the Lakers would have sent out Pau Gasol (to the Rockets) and Lamar Odom (to the then-Hornets). The Hornets would have also received Goran Dragic, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, and New York's 2012 1st-round pick from Houston. While obviously not a stellar haul for a star like CP3, that collection of players would have undoubtedly made the Hornets more competitive than the package that they eventually received from the Clippers, which included Eric Gordon (who only played in nine games that season due to knee injuries which continue to plague him), Al-Farouq Aminu (young, inexperienced player), and Chris Kaman (LOL).
Of course, the blessing in disguise with this lackluster return on their fleeing star was that it allowed the Hornets to bottom out and acquire the top pick in the following draft, with which they selected Anthony Davis. What we did not know at the time was the aftermath of this unconsummated trade would also force the Lakers to bottom out, although they were able to delay their fall for longer, with the potential to avoid it entirely had their Dwight Howard acquisition worked out. It did not, to say the least.
What the entire situation demonstrates is the fluidity with which NBA teams are put together. Had the original trade went through, this parallel league history would be almost unrecognizable. Houston would not have had the same amount of assets, could they have still acquired James Harden? Where would Anthony Davis be playing? Would the Lakers have a core of Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, and Chris Paul? We will never know.
Hypothetical scenarios aside, the Lakers can only make the best of the cards fate has dealt them. Now, like the Hornets did in '11-12, they must eschew win-now moves, bottom out, and hope to rebuild through the draft while waiting to utilize their cap space on true difference makers to place alongside their hoped for potential laden young core. Players of Davis' caliber do not come along every draft, but this upcoming one is projected to be as rich in big men (and talented players in general) as any, and if the Lakers can keep their pick, maybe in three years whichever rookie they end up selecting will end up inspiring as much drooling during his coming out campaign as Davis is now.
Other Game Day Observations:
- My personal favorite from the Lakers organist: the Legend of Zelda theme.
- The Kiss Cam and Halftime Skill Competition were by far the most amusing of the in-arena entertainment. With guys running around the court throwing off-target passes and missing layups during halftime, it was almost like the Lakers didn't even take a break.
- Kobe Bryant (always and forever) receives the bulk of fan admiration as measured in cheers, but I was surprised with Staples becoming nearly as electric when Nick Young gets his touches. There is not even really a close third, unless you count Boozer cheering for himself.
- This made it all the more unfortunate that Swaggy had such a rough night on the court, switching shoes three times to no effect. It is becoming increasingly obvious that Byron Scott's offensive system is not nearly as effective of a use of Young's talents as D'Antoni's was last year. The situation is clearly beginning to wear on Young, and a sad Swaggy is no fun at all. The world is a better place when Nick Young is splashing threes.
- One would be forgiven for having tuned out by this point, but watching Sacre roast Anthony Davis in the post for a layup was great fun
- Also enjoyable was Wayne Ellington making it Wayne from deep (he made both of his threes and scored 10 points total) in the second half as he continues to be a minor success story this season.
- Lastly, let's just say I hope this game was not the last time that I get to see Kobe in person.