The Los Angeles Lakers are a bad, horrible, no good, insert negative descriptor here basketball team that have won 15 games this year. The are the proud owners of a -6.7 Net Rating and are currently on pace to lose the most games in a single season since the franchise relocated to Los Angeles.
Kobe Bryant is done for the year. Lottery pick Julius Randle has missed his entire rookie season. What reasons are left to even watch this year's games? Our crew of writers gives theirs:
Coming down the home stretch of the season, why are you watching the Lakers?
Harrison Faigen: Because it's my job? No, the real reason I am continuing to watch is this: the Lakers are the best reality show on TV. Win or lose, they generate a story worth following. In just the last few weeks, we have had the Lakers celebration of a rare win videobombed by Carlos Boozer, Kobe Bryant's hilarious disapproval of the aforementioned celebration, and Nick Young's feuds with various marine life. They may be lottery bound, but the Lakers will always be a show worth watching.
Jameson Miller: Two reasons: stubbornness and intrigue, with an honorable mention going to morbid curiosity. Much like my refusal to bow out midway through a bowl of cereal even amidst growing suspicions of sour milk, or my staunch enforcement of a "no slice left behind" policy when taking down a pizza -- I figure I've made it this far, there's no turning back now.
The intrigue comes from likely sources; namely, the progress of the tank and the continued development of players with at least a decent shot of sticking around for the next several years (Jordan Clarkson, Ryan Kelly and Tarik Black, to name .... them all).
Lastly, despite the relative obscurity of the names on the back of the jerseys, the historical heft and global visibility of the name on the front means that regardless of which extreme the Lakers veer toward - -whether it's greatness, inferiority or irrelevance -- there will always be a potentially interesting conversation about how they got there and what happens next.
Drew Garrison: You're watching the Lakers at this point because you've come this far.
Now, we get to staple hope onto the play of a second-round prospect in Jordan Clarkson. There's no telling what this team will look like, but it's that whole Harvey Dent syndrome -- the night is always darkest just before the dawn. There should be some optimism in getting Julius Randle back along with a top-five talent, a hopefully rejuvenated Kobe Bryant on what could be his last run, and maybe a free agent or two next season. That's leaps and bounds better than whatever it is the Lakers are currently.
It's time to make this final purge therapeutic.
The Great Mambino: Quite honestly? Habit. Dedication to Silver Screen & Roll. But besides those two things? That's about it. I don't enjoy watching this team. It's like reading a book with a mediocre ending that you already went ahead and scanned: I know how this story ends. For many NBA fans watching underwhelming teams, it's about seeing the seeds for the future grow. What seeds are here? Do I need to watch more Tarik Black this year, considering he may not even be a Laker next year? Ryan Kelly is a nice player, but I'm not really interested in seeing him take his lumps as a part time small forward that can't guard the position. Even Jordan Clarkson, who is emerging as a nice potential future rotation player, makes too many rookie mistakes for me to consider watching him "enjoyable". Most of this team won't be around next season, and if they are, it's not a good sign.
The CDP: Real talk: I can't help myself. While Laker games are still occasionally exciting (like the overtime win against Boston), they are rarely well-played and are much more often brutal to watch. By sheer force of habit, I DVR all the games and watch as many as I can, long after the Lakers season could safely be condemned as a lottery-bound train wreck. I just love watching basketball and, relevance aside, the purple and gold warm my heart.
While I wish Randle was still playing and we could watching him develop, there are other young Lakers of note that I'm scouting along the way. I've been rooting for Jordan Clarkson all year and it's been great to see him grow into his role as starting PG. I have no idea what kind of pieces Ryan Kelly, Tarik Black, and Wayne Ellington are - should they be part of the Lakers bench moving forward or out of the league?
Also, Nick Young. Slump or not, he's the embodiment of pure joy on the court.
In your opinion, who should the Lakers starters be for the final 28 games?
Harrison Faigen: Jordan Clarkson, Tarik Black, Ryan Kelly, Wayne Ellinton, and a call up from the D-Fenders. Maybe Jamaal Franklin of the D-Fenders? I am not an expert on the current cream of the D-League's crop, but I do know that extended minutes for veterans as the Lakers careen towards the lottery are a complete waste. Those rotation roles would be much more well utilized to audition D-League guys.
However, since Byron Scott isn't counting out the Lakers winning a championship this year just yet, I would hardly be shocked if the team signed Mike James and Kenyon Martin for a late playoff push.
Jameson Miller: I'd like to see Jordan Clarkson, Wayne Ellington, Wesley Johnson, Ryan Kelly and Tarik Black round out the starting five for the Lakers during these last 6 weeks of the season. Johnson wins by default here, although I realize he's a risky choice as he stands for everything that could go wrong for the Lakers over the stretch run. His ability to (very) occasionally swing a game by getting hot from distance or channeling his still impressive athletic prowess could lead to a costly win or two, and his lack of inclusion in the Lakers' future plans means there is no "development" to be done. My only real reason for wanting Wes in the starting group is because anything forcing Byron Scott to give up the charade that is "Ryan Kelly, Starting Small Forward" is a net positive.
Drew Garrison: Jordan Clarkson, Wayne Ellington, Nick Young, Ryan Kelly and Ed Davis. Make of that what you will.
The Great Mambino: Without a doubt, Jordan Clarkson and Ryan Kelly. Beyond that -- it doesn't really matter, quite frankly. Seeing Black get some time would be nice next to a stretch forward like Kelly. Same with Ed Davis. All the Lakers should really be focused on is developing Clarkson and Kelly -- anything besides that is an ancillary goal.
PG: Jordan Clarkson. He deserves to keep his starting PG spot over Lin. No question.
SG: Wayne Ellington. In the immortal words of Homer Simpson, "Default! The two sweetest words in the English language." Injuries make this an easy choice. With Ellington, it's also worth giving him starter's minutes to see how he does.
SF: Wesley Johnson. I almost puked in my mouth, just a little bit, but who else?
PF: Ryan Kelly. It's time to stop the "let's have Ryan Kelly try and fail miserably at guarding 3's" experiment. Instead, I'd suggest seeing if he is the kind of stretch four that will stick around past this season.
C: Ed Davis. My sense is that the Laker's won't pick up Hill's option, but will give Davis a look at a $3-5M deal this summer. In the interim, start the man.