There a multitude of reasons for which we are where we are. First and foremost, I would like to touch on what may be perceived as major issues, but are rather minor in comparison.
Kobe's defense, while admittedly awful, isn't an integral reason for our woes. Kobe's regular season defense hasn't changed much in application within the last 5 or so years, defensive accolades be damned. We were successful in spite of it. Kobe's offense, again while seemingly selfish and haphazard, has kept us afloat during droughts and lulls. Should Kobe be doing his hero ball thing at the end of the game? Preferably, no. But that is a symptom -- not the disease. It should be apparent that Kobe takes matters into his own hands when there is no offensive flow or consistency. Especially when the golden boy Steve Nash is being acquiescent (not much mention of this, no surprise, he is God after all). He turns down open shots, almost as if to preserve his percentages (speculation). But a huge reason why he was acquired was to space the floor, instead he is making Kapono/Mike Miller blush with his passivity.
Dwight Howard's offensive deficiencies are being magnified by his lack of lift and explosion and he largely doesn't possess the low post skill to compensate. Realize though, if he is given the ball in the proper spots consistently with adequate spacing he can still control a game, as evidenced by his play within the Princeton under Mike Brown.
This segues into my next point, which is the meat and bones of our issues, the system. This system is not suited for our personnel. Plain and simple. This is not a run and gun team. Kobe alluded to it with his old age quote and he is spot on. We simply cannot force the ball down the other team's throat because we don't have the energy or legs to prosper like that. Often, I see us work our way back into a game only to take a long three which ignites fast breaks for younger teams, allowing them to come back into games. We're playing into opposing teams hands. Teams want the likes of Jodie Meeks and Darius Morris to take quick, questionable shots, rather than have to deal with Kobe/D12/Nash.
Furthermore, this is a team with proficient post players who are not allowed to venture into the post, effectively negating our biggest advantage. Rather than having a system that allows, hell encourages post ups, we have a perimeter-oriented system helmed by old players who are on their way out in the near future. Not only will utilizing our post advantage give us the ability to control the pace, it can help our defense to get set, as there will be less long rebounds.
As much as Steve Nash's wizardry led those Phoenix Suns offenses to extraordinary heights, it did not occur in a vacuum. Gmatcallahan had an excellent post in the "Lakers get Steve Nash" thread on how those Phoenix Suns teams had the optimal roster to run the MDA 1/4 spread pick and roll system consistently. Not to take any credit away from Steve Nash, because he was obviously the maestro of the symphony, but it takes more than him to play that way and we don't have personnel who are equipped with the same tools.
Also, Dwight Howard's defense is not up to his usual lofty standards. He can't currently shrink the floor and be the ultra-dominant defensive anchor he has previously been and that is killing us. This is further exacerbated by his moping and lethargy on the defensive end when he goes multiple possessions without touching the ball. His ability to help and recover has increasingly diminished and that is compounded by the mediocre defenders we field. If he was at a hundred percent, our ineptness at perimeter defense would be considerably lessened.
Finally, Pau Gasol's all-around game and role within the offense. Pau is hampered with tendinitis and plantar fasciitis, sure I get that. I don't know how much that is contributing to his pathetic defense, but the truth is IDGAF. Some of this could be overlooked if he was enriching the offense, but he has been utterly garbage on that end too. Now, some of you may be aware that I am a proponent of Gasol, and I still believe a healthy Pau in a suitable system can still be highly effective, but I also like to believe I can be objective on this issue. And that is trade the guy as soon as you can, Lakers org, because he has been a thorn in our side penetrating deeper than any opponent has.
Obviously, things like chemistry and undefined roles are hurting us, but those are issues that organically sort themselves out. I believe the prior issues listed are not. They are solutions to those that can be implemented today.
Kobe sees this and is basically pleading to the org/coach/players to rectify it and hopefully we do. Because as much as people want to complain about players not having the energy or the legs to make this work, we have to call a spade a spade. If we could somehow get physical augmentations for our players, such as bionic legs (or a working heart for Pau) this system could work. But that is not the case nor will it ever be.
GO LEAFS GO!