One week ago, the Lakers went on a three-game winning streak, a terrifying run that potentially put the franchise's chances of retaining its draft pick in the ground. To get back in position, no mere tank commander would be enough.
If the Lakers' draft pick was gone, and the tank was destroyed, at the very least this team was going to avenge it. Introducing: The Tankvengers.
Captain America: Jordan Clarkson
Clarkson and Captain America both have gone through parallel narrative arcs: the fresh faced kid who never asked to lead, but was thrust into the role anyway by virtue of his talent and hard work. (While Steve Rogers had the help of science, I have no comment on the rampant speculation that Clarkson has used the super soldier serum)
Like Cap, who embodies the best aspects of the Avengers, Clarkson represents the redeeming factors of the Lakers tank this year: Serving the youth, developing talent, and hoping to get lucky in the draft.
Nick Fury: Byron Scott
A man who began with good intentions on saving the world (or the Lakers) but acquired too much power and in his hubris ended up leading the downfall, or at least downward spiral, of an organization he helped build. For Fury this was what happened to S.H.I.E.L.D, and this is what Scott may be leading the Lakers towards as well. His stewardship of the tank has been an unquestionably valuable asset to the organization in the short term, but it remains to be seen if it will also lead towards doom down the road.
The Incredible Hulk: Carlos Boozer
Carlos Boozer was expected to be train wreck. His arrival in Lakers Land was treated with a chorus of boos that were not a reference to his last name. Much like the unassuming Bruce Banner, people didn't see him as a threat. Then, Byron Scott moved him to the bench and made him angry.
Since his move to the bench, and even in his current return to the starting lineup, Boozer has been a beast, or one could say a Hulk. Both at least have their signature bellow down; Hulk with " HULK SMASH!" and Boozer with "HOLDAT!"
While his defense has been at its usual tanktastic levels, his offense has threatened to destroy the team on more than one occasion, similar to how the Hulk can vacillate between being the Avengers' greatest weapon or most devastating threat.
Iron Man: Nick Young
"But Nick has not even played during the Lakers current ups and downs! Throw another shrimp on the barbie!" protested Iggy Azalea when reading this comparison. (Editors Note: Quote was not verified for authenticity).
Call this a season-long "achievement" award for one of the tank's more destructive weapons, a "scorer" who is shooting 36.6 percent from the field. Plus, this comparison is too perfect to pass up. Robert Downey, Jr.'s portrayal of Tony Stark and Nick Young's character of "Swaggy P" both possess similarly wacky yet lovable natures, endless quotability, and a swagger that often veers into overconfidence.
For Stark, this overconfidence leads him to believe he is best qualified to police the world outside of any nation's jurisdiction, while Swaggy just believes he can convert any shot no matter how high the degree of difficulty, and that he is capable of winning a fight with a dolphin.
The Black Widow: Jeremy Lin
The Black Widow does not possess superpowers that would seemingly warrant an invite to the Avengers, in the same way that Lin is overvalued by his most vocal fans. At the same time, the Widow is also more skilled than her detractors say, and much like Lin, can destroy any who don't take her talents seriously. Both have also had their loyalties questioned at times, Widow during the Hydra takeover in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Lin when he throws the ball to the other team.
Thor: Wesley Johnson
Like Thor, Wesley inherited some incredibly impressive superpowers by birth. Also like Thor, his inability to effectively use them in concert makes him an often frustrating watch. When watching the Avengers, you almost want to scream at the screen "Thor! You are have superstrength and can shoot freaking lightning bolts! Why are you letting these aliens get so close to your mortal Avengers teammates?!?"
This is like when watching a Lakers game the past two seasons and wanting to yell at Wes, "You can dunk on anyone in sight?? Why did you never learn how to play basketball?!?"
Similar to how Thor is an invaluable member of his team, though, Johnson has been an indispensable Tankvenger, determined to save the Lakers' future through keeping their record bad enough to hold on to their draft pick.
Hawkeye: Robert Sacre
Along with Black Widow, Hawkeye completes the pair of non-super-powered Avengers. This is a fit for Sacre, who has the polar opposite of what any observer would call star power.
Hawkeye is just a regular guy with a bow. If he were a background S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, he would stand out from the crowd with his skills. But standing next to the Hulk and Iron Man, he just looks out of place. The same goes for Sacre, who stands out for his basketball skill when compared to the rest of the population, but looks decidedly out of place against NBA first stringers.
Tank Play of the Week
Not a whole lot needs to be said about this play, but for some context, Chandler Parsons' brazen public murder of Ryan Kelly was part of the Lakers epic fourth quarter collapse against Dallas on Sunday night, and the play most emblematic of it. RIP Ryan, you will be missed.
You killed Kelly! You [Expletive Deleted]!
A National TV Date with the Knicks: There are very few teams that the Lakers will be favored against this season, but New York is one of them. The most triangular thing about old friend Phil Jackson's Knicks is the arrow-shaped hole they have the potential to put in the Lakers' tank.
Barring a zen-fueled miracle, the Lakers have no chance to catch New York in the race to the league's worst record. But every game counts, and a win against the Knicks somehow counts the same as against any other NBA team, so it pushes the Lakers another game away from the Minnesota Timberwolves and Philadelphia 76ers. Thus, this game has a very good chance to knock the treads off of the Lakers tank once again.
Monta Ellis: The Mavericks looked listless for the majority of their game against the Lakers on Sunday, and actually trailed by as much as 9 in the third quarter of the game, but Tank Hero Monta Ellis was not about to let them go quietly into the night. The microwave scorer was hot in the third frame, scoring 18 of his 31 points in that decisive period (and 9 in the last 1:01).
Or as Dirk Nowitzki would sum up what happened to Los Angeles in those 12 minutes:
For that aerial support of the Lakers' tank, Ellis earns reinforcements honors.
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