There are going to be a variety of previews on this site between now and Oct. 28 (the first game), but with the roster largely set (at least for the guys getting the majority of the minutes) it’s time to start looking at the squad. One of our insightful members here, Drrayeye, did that in a comment yesterday and I thought it was something that deserved more discussion, so here it is.
I like the Lakers 2008-2009 squad–all of them, individually at least to number 13, and I’m likely to be happy with 14 and 15 as well when we figure out who they are. In comparing the Lakers to opponents at this early preseason point, the established Lakers are already united in team spirit and familiar with each other. Other NBA teams are still trying to sign free agents, find additional players, or, worse, trying to locate one or two starters for the upcoming season.
The Lakers at this point are not only balanced, but may have backups available to sign to restore balance in case of injury. There are some Laker fans that have lost confidence in one or more of our returning players–but not me.
Those Laker bloggers who wish to call Luke “*uke” should wash their mouths out with soap. Last season, Luke played through injuries and changing roles in an apparent confused state. It will be interesting to find out about his mobility and three point shot in the preseason. I expect to see Walton regularly in certain combinations at the small forward and I expect him to make important contributions.
VladRad had a decent season last year, but still battled nagging injuries. His role is likely to shift from the small forward to the power forward–with more emphasis and opportunity as a scorer. I expect his role to also be better defined than last year and be another bright spot on the Laker team.
Derek Fisher played the last games and the playoffs with a significant injury. It will be interesting how healthy he is when he reappears in the preseason, and it will be interesting how many minutes he will play each game during the regular season.
I’m sure that Jordon Farmar is working on his three, but many of us are hoping that he gets to the hoop more often and rotates better on defense. It will be interesting to see if another Laker is added to the point guard rotation.
The Machine should expect an enhanced role on the Lakers to go with his substantially enhanced salary. I’m sure that there will be various strategies to make his scoring more efficient and his defense more acceptable.
Lamar had his best season as a Laker during 2007-2008, and he is as healthy as he ever has been. This season, his versatility will be challenged as never before.
The real treat will be to see Trevor Ariza and Andrew Bynum going through an entire preseason with Pau Gasol. There are many adjustments to work out. So far, the only Laker surgery on the horizon is for Kobe Bean, but he’ll be ready and rested by the time the season starts–I hope. If not, the early season absence will be a good test for the rest of the team.
Then there are three or four members of the newby squad to be added in:
Here comes the Sun (Sun Yue) seems signed, sealed, and soon delivered–ready to find the first dim sum place near Staples (hint: it’s not too far away!).
Josh Powell has apparently been swiped from the Clippers for the “Ronny Turiaf” slot–a slot that may have to be redefined to suit Josh.
I’m convinced that the Lakers will fill only one more slot (#14), unless they sign Mbenga (#15).
That slot should go to Coby Karl, and it may, but he may overlap too much with Sun Yue. I’m speculating (with no knowledge at all) that the slot will go to lightning fast Dwayne Mitchell in the hope that he can be a point guard defensive stopper. Why else would they even hold on to a 26 year old this long?
I find it least likely that they will select Crawford, but there are still a few other players that might be asked to training camp, and other strange things could happen. Slots 14 and 15 may not be completely determined until the start of the season.