The 2014-2015 Lakers and the Quest for 20

Several years ago, Boston College’s favorite son, Jared “The Junkyard Dog” Dudley (though by opposing ACC crowds, he was often called “Jared Ugly”) came to the Phoenix Suns in package with Jason Richardson. Dudley never should have made it even that far in the NBA.
 
A first round pick by the Charlotte Bobcats, the San Diego, CA native was actually projected to be a second round draft pick. The reigning 2006-2007 ACC Player of the Year had decent size at 6’7″ and 220 lbs, lacked the explosive athleticism that many other small forwards carried at that position. Critics claimed that Dudley’s lack of lateral movement and vertical lift would limit his NBA career, making him a League also-ran rather than the, I daresay dominant swingman he was during his college days.
 
What many didn’t consider was while Dudley was limited in athleticism, he was not at all limited in his work ethic. Through his endless hustle, grit and an unfathomably improved three-point stroke, JYD morphed into a phenomenal NBA role player with the Bobcats and then with the Phoenix Suns. More than that, he morphed himself into a man who has made over $30 million dollars in his NBA career.
 
Still, his athleticism, or lack thereof, has still partially defined his career. Throughout the 2010-2011 NBA season, Dudley’s teammates on the Phoenix Suns derided the baby-faced small forward his almost complete inability to dunk the basketball during in-game play. Even during his college career, Dudley was never known as a powerful player that could take it to the rack, but rather as a guy who relied on a solid mid-range game and contact at the hoop to get his points. Dunking–i.e., jumping off the ground with explosion–was simply not in the cards. Apparently, this was the case during his professional career.
 
And thus came the Quest for 10. Please see this article.
 
In the spring of 2011, Jared Dudley completed his seemingly impossible quest to complete ten dunks during the season. This man–an unlikely NBA player from the outset–defied the critics, his teammates, the very laws of physics and the constraints of his own human vessel to conquer this very personal journey.
 
As we reflect on the Quest for 10, can YOUR….Los Angeles Lakers complete their Quest for 20?

Can the Lakers win 20 games this season? Can www.lakers.com fill out a video blog, similar to the very one you just read complete with rosy quotes and fulfilled ambition, with 20 clips of purple and gold victories?

20 victories isn’t just a projection–a very, very apt projection, if you ask me–but rather, the threshold by which the Lakers can compete going forward.

With just 20 victories, these pitiful Los Angeles Lakers, perhaps the worst team in city franchise history, will be able to keep their draft pick that they sent to the Phoenix Suns in the cursed Steve Nash trade that looks worse by the nerve-rooted day. With just 20 victories, the Lakers will be able to accelerate what looks to be an extremely painful and prolonged rebuilding process with another young stud to pair with the already promising Julius Randle.

With just 20 victories, a lost season will have meaning.

With more than that? The Lakers are in danger of being bad for nothing. 30 wins is more a Pyrrhic victory than say, completing 10 dunks for a 40-42 Phoenix Suns team that didn’t qualify for the postseason. Failing the Quest for 20 is a failure on a organizational level, a complete misunderstanding of where the team is, where they are going and where they have been. This “goal” isn’t just a clever play on a hilariously hokey personal trial by one of my personal favorite basketball players ever, it’s a very serious target for this Los Angeles Lakers team to stumble into.

I’m not saying the Lakers can’t win more than 20 games. That’s not the case. I’m not even saying they won’t win 20 games. That’s well within the realm of possiblity. I’m saying that they can’t win 20 games. They mustn’t win 20 games. But barring a trade no one sees coming or the emergence of Ed Davis as the next Tyson Chandler or Jeremy Lin showing the world that Linsanity was more a fixed state of mind than a fleeting memory, the 2013-2014 Lake Show will be the the lowest rated in series history.

This team isn’t just going to be bad–they must be bad. The Quest for 10 was a man in humorous defiance of limitations. The Quest for 20? An franchise in serious need of it’s own limitations.

 

 

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