Welcome to TANK WATCH: THE COLUMN, a place for the Silver Screen and Roll crew to round up the week's tanking progress. For this first edition, lets establish some of the initial categories we will be discussing:
Tank Play of the Week - A look at one of the worst (or best, depending on your perspective) plays the Lakers made during the week. Normally, we will be looking for a play that ended any chance of the Lakers winning a game, and thus helping their tank roll on.
Tank Commander - The individual who did the most during the week in review to move the tank along. This is looking more at sustained badness over a week long period, rather than just one play.
Anti-Tank Mine - This category will examine a play, player or coach who did their best to derail the Lakers' tank this week. Not necessarily limited to Lakers personnel either, for example, an opposing coach or player could win this award for making a terrible play or substitution against the Lakers. (We see you Tyrone Corbin).
Tank Reinforcements - Essentially the opposite of the previous category, where we acknowledge a player, coach, or team that helped the Lakers tank along or removed some potential obstacles from its path.
Top-Five Today - A look at the bottom-five teams, the odds of the Lakers' keeping their pick, and a weekly sim. Courtesy of Tankathon.
Not all of these could make it into this first edition, but please hit us up on Twitter or in the comments with additional category suggestions! Now, on to the Tanking.
Tank Play of the Week
Lakers allow a layup, then a steal, and a corner 3 off the steal. I think that's your #TankPlayOfTheWeek right there.— Silver Screen & Roll (@LakersSBN) January 24, 2015
For those that missed Friday's beat down in San Antonio, the Lakers actually cut the Spurs' lead to as little as 10 points in the the fourth quarter. They of course immediately allowed a 7-0 San Antonio run, including the plays mentioned above.
Tank Commander of the Week
Byron Scott - How is this for a week in review? On Wednesday, all of Scott's over-reliance on Kobe Bryant finally came back to bite the Lakers when the 36-year old sustained what would later be revealed to be an almost assuredly season-ending torn rotator cuff. However, it would be impossible to simply blame Scott for a freak injury that could have occurred anyway, so that's not what we will do here.
What was an unarguably stupid decision was Scott's choice to RE-INSERT BRYANT INTO THE GAME, despite the fact that, you know, he was PLAYING ON ONE ARM! Kobe made a game effort of it, but Scott has to protect Bryant from himself in such a situation.
If that had been Scott's only offense, he would have still ran away with this award. Byron was not declaring victory yet, deciding to run up the score by benching Jeremy Lin entirely in Friday night's blowout defeat at the hands of the Spurs. Lin is still a much better player than Ronnie Price though, whom Scott decided to bring off of the bench in a two point guard rotation with Jordan Clarkson. With the Lakers season in full tank mode, Clarkson should be starting or at least playing heavy minutes, but playing Price with a bum elbow over Lin is kind of ridiculous. We knew Scott was drinking Price's Kool-aid, but this decision simply does not make sense on any level other than a tanking one.
So it is for those two moves that Byron Scott runs away with the inaugural version of this award. If he keeps it up, we are going to have to rename this the Byron Scott: Tank Commander of the Week.
The New York Knicks:
To close the month of January, the Lakers play two Eastern Conference title contenders, the Bulls and Wizards, making their tank look very likely to roll to a ten game losing streak. Putting them in danger of a win to begin February? A Super Bowl Sunday matchup with the New York Knicks. As dreadful as the Lakers have been this year, the Knicks have been worse, managing only 8 wins so far this season. Phil Jackson's crew is essentially tanking out in the open, starting guys like Langston Galloway, Jason Smith, and newest member of the NBA's ten team club Lou Amundson. The Knicks rank third to last in net rating, being outscored by an average of 9 points per 100 possessions, edging out the Lakers 4th overall rank of -6.7.
There is still reason to hope this mine will not be enough to knock the treads off of the Lakers tank, as New York only just ended a three game win streak (their version of the vintage 71-72 Lakers 33 gamer) with a loss to Charlotte. A three-game winning streak may not sound like much, but that is 37.5 percent of their 8 wins. With Kobe Bryant out, if Carmelo Anthony suits up for the 'Bockers it is entirely possible he shoots them to a win over the talent-deprived Lakers, but it will be a titanic tank battle of the likes not seen since World War II. Maybe the NFL should re-schedule the Super Bowl to avoid losing viewers to this match-up.
The Boston Celtics - It is a strange year when it is a good thing for the Lakers to see Boston get a win, but that is the world we live in right now. With the Celtics casting off any player that is a) over the age of 24 and b) has a pulse, Boston was quickly gaining on Los Angeles in the race to the bottom. With the potential of the Lakers losing out on one of the 2015 Draft's many young studs, it was nice to see Boston bumble their way to a win over the Portland Trail Blazers:
Just how the coach drew it up I'm sure. Thanks Boston!
*Courtesy of Tankathon.com*