At first, one would wonder why the Lakers are 0-9 counting pre-season. But then you say, "well, pre-season, come on."
They are only 0-1 and have 4 of the top 15 players in the NBA per ESPN's annual "NBA Rank" ratings. So you have to figure that they will do well enough beating the shitty teams in the league that they will win 50 games.
Why not 60? Well.
1) Nash and Kobe - the best player to play with Kobe is a defensive oriented point guard who takes open threes and doesn't do much else (Brian Shaw, Ron Harper, Derek Fisher). Nash is an offensive-oriented point guard who is one of the worst defenders in the entire NBA.
So you have Nash running through the lane and passing to Kobe who..........holds the ball and tries to get fouled. Great. I could serve the Nash role much easier by simply bringing the ball up and handing it to Kobe then going to stand and watch him go 1 on 1.
2) Howard and Kobe - Dwight Howard is an unwilling passer. He may also be a poor passer, but it is difficult to tell because he almost never passes the ball. Howard has never averaged 2 assists per game over an entire season. He has had 3 seasons where he has averaged 20-14 and not had 2 assists per game. Only Moses Malone (5 times) has accomplished this feat as much or more.
Moses Malone, of course, averaged 25-31 points a game in those 5 seasons, while Howard goes around 21 a year.
In other words, Dwight Howard is a ball hog, yet he is not really that great at it. So you take Kobe's traditional 34 Usage rate (top 3 in the league) and add Howard at 25, and these two guys will account for 59% of offensive possessions. Yet this is NOT like Miami having Wade and LeBron account for 63% of possessions or OKC having Durant and Westbrook account for 64% of possessions. A lot of Howard's possessions are wasted. and Kobe is losing efficiency as he gets older. His shameless gunning now does not always result in points.
3) Gasol and everyone - I think Gasol would flourish with Nash as the other star. Gasol knows where to stand and where he wants his shots and he has good hands.
But for Gasol to be a great player he has to punish people inside. That will not be happening with Howard posting up and getting 25% of the usage (usage being a shot or free throws or a turnover). Howard outside of 8 feet is hopeless and he will not pass to Gasol.
As Gasol gets older his desire to stand inside and take a beating declines. On both ends. Do you really need a 7 foot guy shooting 21 footers? With Nash you would prefer a 6'8" guy shooting three pointers (Channing Frye).
4) Mike Brown. -- Oh Mike Brown....was it LeBron or did you have something to do with it? Well, Brown has never really had a signature offensive set other than "23 Stand" where #23 would stand with the ball for 23 seconds and then try to get a shot. Kobe is more than happy to run the same play, but then you have $60MM of players doing nothing but hoping to get a rebound or a loose ball.
(Gasol and Howard are both excellent offensive rebounders, but do you really want them turned into Reggis Evanses?)
Brown will need to decide who is the star and who is not. I don't think he has it in him. Phil may have been able to tell Kobe to let Nash run the game; Brown won't. If you have Nash, you must let him run free and annoy the other club and surround him with three point shooters. Kobe isn't gonna stand and wait for the ball. He just isn't.
So what do you do, Mike (other than wait to get fired)?