Thursday, December 29, 2011
Brown: Young teams are early-season favorites
By Dave McMenamin
LOS ANGELES -- Perhaps as a way to make sense of the Los Angeles Lakers' horrendous showing against the Sacramento Kings or maybe as a way of explanation for seeing early-season a box scores that read Denver 115 - Dallas 93 or New Orleans 97 - Boston 78, Mike Brown and his friend have come up with a theory.
Age isn't just a number. It's an accurate win-loss predictor in the early stages of this lockout-shortened NBA season.
"I was talking to a buddy of mine that’s an assistant coach at a really good team in the East," Brown said before the Lakers hosted the New York Knicks on Thursday. "We were talking about the win-loss records for some of these teams and he brought up an interesting point.
"He said, 'Hey Mike, you know it’s funny about this?' He said, ‘Right now, on any given night, the advantage goes to the young, athletic, talented teams that just go play ball because they’re playing on energy and athleticism and right now not everybody in the league is in shape. Not everybody in the league is on the same page and it doesn’t bode well for teams like Boston or Dallas or teams that are older that don’t necessarily play like that, with that type of energy.' So, it was an interesting comment and I thought about it and there may be some truth to it. I don’t know. But it was very interesting that he brought that up."
The Mavericks and Celtics have both started the season 0-3. Lakers fans should read that last sentence and file it in their minds under "It could be worse."
"It’s always a surprise to see teams like that struggle, but at the same time you got to give them some time to kind of let them get back in shape and things like that," Kobe Bryant said before the game.
Despite the Lakers' reputation as a has-been championship team that's past its prime, Brown thinks the roster is younger than people realize. The Lakers are the sixth oldest team in the league, with an average age of 28.748 for the players on the roster, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Dallas is first at 30.302, followed by Atlanta at 29.223, Boston at 29.003, Miami at 28.834 and Phoenix at 28.776.
"I do think that we have some young pieces that I’m excited about that could play a significant role for this team in the coming years," Brown said.
Brown went on to rattle off the names of Andrew Bynum, Devin Ebanks, Josh McRoberts and rookies Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock.
"Everybody I mentioned is 24 or younger and they all have a chance to be pretty good players for this team," Brown said.
Bryant, the 33-year-old ageless wonder who is already having a MVP-type season despite the fact he's playing with a torn ligament in his right wrist, would not totally buy into the aging theory.
"It seems up and down," Bryant said. "You see teams come out and play really well one night and the next night they lose by 30. It’s been pretty inconsistent across the board."
While Brown found some merit in his friend's stance, he isn't about to trade all his veterans for rookies, either.
"I believe you need to have older guys," Brown said. "You need to have guys in their prime and then you need to have younger guys to keep the wheel or keep the transition period going on and I think that’s what this team has. This team has a nice mix of those types of guys."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter. John Zoni of ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this report.