The 2015/2016 Los Angeles Lakers really are not good at winning basketball games. However, the narrative among media members and fans stays consistently away from on-court performance, and instead toward the retirement of Kobe Bryant. This article explains how head coach Byron Scott has kept the Lakers in the perfect situation, profitable and putrid, for the future of the organization.
The NBA Coach of the Year is a prestigious honor given out to the head coach who, according to a panel of voters, did the best job with his team for that current season. Some years, it is given to the coach of the team who won the most games during that season. Other times, like last season, it is given to a coach who achieved the most with a team that maybe exceeded expectations (Mike Budenholzer with the Atlanta Hawks). Nonetheless, this honor is usually bestowed on a coach who does an exemplary job on and off the court. Possible candidates this year include Terry Stotts in Portland, Gregg Popovich in San Antonio, and Rick Carlisle in Dallas. All three of those coaches have done a tremendous job in putting their team in the best position to succeed, both on the court this season and in the future.
I am writing this as an official case for Byron Scott, head coach of the 2015-2016 Los Angeles Lakers, to win coach of the year this season.
First thing you are probably thinking, “Hey idiot, the Lakers freakin’ suck.”
Let me save you the time and energy of looking up the ugly statistics to support your claim. The Lakers are, as of Thursday, 11-48, sitting dead last in the NBA Western Conference. They are a full 4 games behind the next worst team (Phoenix), 18.5 games out of the playoffs, and 41.5 games behind the Warriors. According to ESPN, the Lakers are -9.5 average point differential per game, which would be dead last if Sam Hinkie didn’t exist. They currently hold the second worst record in the entire NBA. Only the Philadelphia 76ers who OPENLY PROCLAIM TO BE LOSING ON PURPOSE (#process), have fewer wins this season.
So, with all that being said, one would imagine the Lakers are struggling both on and off the court this season. Which, in most other seasons, might seem a rational thought. However, the statistics point to quite the contrary being true.
The Lakers are currently tied for 1st in the NBA in overall attendance according to ESPN. They are tied with the Golden State Warriors, who if you have not noticed, don’t suck. The Lakers lead the league in road attendance, even ahead of Curry and co., and according to this snapshot from the Chicago Sun Times about NBA ticket prices, have quite an expensive ticket.
“The Warriors are tops in the league with an average ticket price of $238, followed by the Lakers ($200), Knicks ($149) and Bulls ($129).”
This is due in large part to Kobe Bryant announcing his retirement at seasons end. Fans of Kobe reside in each city and state across the country, and everyone is forking over hard earned cash to watch him for one last time whenever the Lakers play a road game. The Lakers are a hot ticket, and business could not be better. They have the second most expensive ticket on average in the NBA, and lead the league in attendance. Did I mention that they have the second worst record in the entire NBA? People are actually paying to see this team lose games.
When a team sucks in the NBA, they have a few ways to improve. The first of which is trading players for better players, a tradition in sport since the first sucky team that ever existed, probably. The only business they did trade-wise was the acquisition of Roy Hibbert from the Indiana Pacers on July 9th, 2015, in exchange for a future second round pick. Roy is currently averaging totals of 9.4 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, which is not that far from what the future second round pick was contributing.
Another way to improve is the acquisition of free agents. This season, Byron Scott signed a few free agents to help his cause. He signed Metta World Peace, Robert Upshaw, and world-beater Marcelo Huertas in September of 2015. He signed Lou Williams in July, and Jonathan Holmes in August.
Out of those 5 signings, the only legitimate NBA player is Lou Williams, who is currently averaging a career best 15.6 PPG with this Lakers team. A nice piece, but not enough to take a losing team out of the cellar.
Last way to improve a team in the modern day NBA is the Draft. That is where the case for Byron Scott as the Coach of the Year really begins.
In 2012, the Lakers traded their 2015 pick to the Phoenix Suns for the corpse of Steve Nash (top 5 protected). Phoenix then traded that pick to the 76ers in exchange for Brandon Knight. Now, when the Lakers got second in the NBA lottery last season, and they retained that top 5 pick, turning it into a 2016 pick for the 76ers, with reduced protection. This year, if the Lakers do not end up with the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd selection in the draft, they lose the pick to Philadelphia. That would be devastating to a team looking to rebuild, as Los Angeles is.
That’s what makes Byron Scott so masterful. The Lakers, as stated above, hold the second worst record in the entire NBA. When you look at the roster they have, it should not be that way. DeAngelo Russell is a young and exciting prospect, who compliments Jordan Clarkson in the backcourt well. Julius Randle is another high draft pick with great upside they can pair alongside perennial NBA rim protector Roy Hibbert to form a formidable frontcourt. Lou Williams was the 6th man of the Year last year in the NBA, and can flat out score the ball. Nick Young is a weird dude, but should be able to provide an offensive spark when needed. Even a guy like Larry Nance Jr. has turned heads this season as a player to possibly watch for in the future.
This team, if playing to full potential, does not make the playoffs in the NBA Wild Western Conference. That is probably safe to assume. So, logistically speaking, the best course of action for the future of the Lakers is to forfeit the season, finish within the bottom 3, and keep the high draft pick. The salary cap jump in the NBA this offseason, coupled with the Lakers selecting in the top 3 of the draft, would leave them with $57 million in cap space and a new exciting prospect. This offseason, players like Kevin Durant, Al Horford, and Demar Derozan become free agents, and LA is a very sexy destination for a superstar.
This season, if playing to full potential, this team is also not one of the 3 worst in the NBA. That is probably safe to assume. So, why are they this bad?
Byron Scott is pulling off one of the greatest coaching maneuvers in the history of the Los Angeles Lakers, and should be commended for it. His ability to shatter the mental psyche of D’Angelo Russell, give 17 minutes per game to Ron Fucking Artest in the 2016 NBA without question, and smooth over the fan base with a calming and reassuring presence only Byron Scott can pull off. He has repeatedly taken the focus off the court by pushing the Kobe storyline.
That is probably the most intriguing thing Byron has done this season. Mentioned above was the Lakers average ticket cost ($200), and the fact that they are tops in the league in terms of overall attendance. Make no mistake, this is ONLY possible if you have a coach who can smooth over public perception. Byron Scott is a masterful speaker, and a very intelligent mind. If you talk to ANY Laker fan in the Los Angeles area they are not concerned with current results, but instead, happy that Kobe is playing and they get to “see him one last time”. Byron has twisted the narrative so far away from on court product that fans are actually SATISFIED spending $200+ to see their team lose in every way imaginable.
In the LA area, sport is more an entertainment piece than a game. The fans care more about going to the game than winning the game. That is what has allowed Byron Scott to pull this off. In most NBA driven cities the coach would be held accountable for questionable late game lineup choices, allowing a retiring and distant superstar to shoot 35% on 17 shots a night (an AVERAGE Kobe game this season is 6/17), and I cannot stress this enough HE GIVES METTA WORLD PIECE 17 MINUTES A NIGHT! WHAT!?!?
He is the perfect coach, in the perfect city, with the perfect task. Be cool, optimistic, and sentimental about this Lakers season, keep everyone calm and content, and lose a fuck ton of games.
If Byron Scott keeps the Lakers in the bottom 2 records in the NBA and keeps their lottery pick, he should win coach of the year. If the criteria for the award is based on the premise of doing the best job of coaching your team to success, which you could argue Mike Budenholzer did last season in putting the Hawks into relevancy in the Eastern Conference, Byron is by far the best candidate. This franchise, in all its futility, should be commended for its ability to spray perfume on a flaming pile of shit.
Ladies and gentlemen I give you Byron Scott, your 2015-2016 NBA Coach of the Year.
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