*Photo via USA Today
Worst season- Knicks or Lakers?
Now that the Phil Jackson hire and the Derek Fisher crowning have lost their lustre, the Knicks can fully revel in the disaster that is their season.
As has already been examined here and here, the Lakers are having an uncharacteristically bad season, through their tanking, injury woes and...inability to tank.
So who is having the worse season?
The legacy for the Knicks has taken a hit, as this year is the worst in franchise history.
Fisher was also recently named the worst coach in the league, which is terribly ironic, given that merely three years ago, he was named by current NBA general managers as the active player most likely to make the best coach someday. Spike Lee is even losing it.
The Knicks also suffered the tragic loss of Anthony Mason.
On the legacy side, the Lakers suffered the indignity of Shaq saying he should never have come to the team, and another report that nobody wants to play with Kobe. The never-ending “what if” of the vetoed Chris Paul trade gets revisited in an wistful video by Bill Simmons.
The season began with the promise of “franchise” player Carmelo Anthony, who spurned the Bulls to re-up with his hometown Knicks long term, but quickly ended in injury after he prolonged it in order to play (badly) in the All-Star game.
But he won’t even sit on the bench anymore. Alexey Shved also recently had a debilitating injury. More on him later.
Kobe Bryant was mercy-killed this season, after coming out firing at an unsustainable rate despite a complete lack of lift and efficiency. For the third season in a row, he also faced a season ending injury. An even more devastating loss was the prize of last year’s terrible season, Julius Randle, who went down in Game 1.
PLAYER DEVELOPMENT (aka Luck…)
After the trade for Alexey Shved, he magically morphed into the ghost of Drazen Petrovic. He had a PER of 20.7, and although a small sample size, 16 games, his play for the equally woebegone Sixers had also been encouraging (20.1 PER). An athletic and creative player who can’t shoot? It’s shocking the Sixers didn’t keep him. Perhaps Shved isn’t the player he seemed to be in Minnesota, and the big-guard friendly triangle-offense may offer him a stable home to cultivate his talents. It may not be Whiteside-ian, but lucking into talent is a desperately important element for both teams.
The Lakers big gem this season has been Jordan Clarkson. After learning the trade from a now-retired Steve Nash, Clarkson has consistently improved to the point that he is considered a foundational piece. Over the last 10 games, he’s averaged 17 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 6 assists with increased efficiency.
Jabari Brown has also impressed enough to be signed for the future, but has seen limited minutes, and might not offer much beyond scoring.
Lance Thomas 7.95 PER (ESPN) would make Austin Rivers blush (league average is 15).
Jason Smith has a shocking -5.85 Real +/- according to ESPN.
Jordan Hill has a staggering -3.85 Real Plus Minus per ESPN.
Nick Young sports a 0.9 assist to turnover ratio per ESPN.
Overall, the team has done an excellent job sticking to their accidental plan to get a top draft pick. They currently have the worst record, and the whopping 25% odds of snagging the top pick that comes with it, after anti-tanking lottery reform failed to pass.
The Lakers have won games they simply needed to let go. They’ve strung together six victories in games decided by four points or less, and won in OT against Toronto, Chicago and Boston.
-Steve Kerr spurned the Knicks at the last second, and the Warriors are now the best team in the league.
-JR Smith now plays defense and the right way.
-Stuff like this happens all the time.
-Employees fired for yelling “you stink” at Carmelo.
-All-Star game in NYC.
-Pau Gasol was an All-Star starter.
-The Clippers are excellent.
-Jeremy Lin’s sob story is getting profiled.
-Kobe calling his team “soft like charmin” in this viral clip.
RULING-- Worst Season:
...Lakers. By a nose.
Kobe doesn’t have many years left, and the team has lost another one, while the inability to tank endangers a draft pick the Lakers lose if it falls out of the top 5.
Both teams have cap space lined up, so the future may be brighter…Or perhaps the league’s top media markets and highest valued franchises might flounder for the next decade.
Too bad David Stern isn’t around to chill an envelope this time