As we continue previewing all of the teams around the league, you may have noticed that Darius previewed the Lakers yesterday. Along with his preview, there were a couple of other Lakers sites that shared their previews. Also, the Phoenix Suns websites were slated to preview their team today, so we’ll have dual previews for today’s links:
From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen and Roll: What significant moves were made during the off-season. Where do I even begin? Change is not a word often associated with two time defending champions, and with the 5 most prominent members of the Los Angeles Lakers all locked up for multiple years, one wouldn’t figure the Lakers would be in for a massive roster overhaul. None of that stopped GM Mitch Kupchak from having one busy and, in the opinion of this humble blogger, spectacular summer. Kupchak completely changed the back end of the team, allowing Jordan Farmar to leave via free agency, and politely telling Adam Morrison, Josh Powell and DJ Mbenga to seek other employment. In their place come Steve Blake, Matt Barnes, Theo Ratliff, and two rookies Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter. Looked at on a like for like basis, it seems like an improvement at every turn. Blake fits the Lakers need for a “point guard” much better than Farmar did, Barnes as depth at small forward (in case Luke Walton’s back injuries continue to hamper his career) over Adam Morrison is a no contest, and Ratliff provides experience off the bench that neither DJ Mbenga nor Josh Powell could muster. And the rookie haul is especially impressive when you consider that the Lakers seem to have found two keepers when they had only a mid and late 2nd round pick. On top of all that, Derek Fisher and Shannon Brown were re-signed for continuity, so the Lakers now have a roster that is theoretically much deeper (and more mature) than last year’s version.
From Alex, NBA Tip Off: What are the team’s biggest strengths? Depth. The Lakers have an incredibly balanced team. Their attack starts with two All-Star players in Bryant and Gasol. Then the role players come in and fulfill their purpose, occasionally having a breakout game. You also must think about the size of this team. Bynum and Gasol are seven footers, Odom and free agent signing Theo Ratliff are six-ten. This allows them to pound the ball outside and punish small teams. Additionally, it lets them establish an inside-outside offensive attack. Experience. The core players on this team have won back-to-back titles. Kobe Bryant has five rings. Phil Jackson has 11. Is there more that I need to say about experience? Raw talent. Talent is plentiful for the Lakers. We know Kobe is a star, but guys like Odom and Artest are amazing too. Odom is one of the few guys in the league who can basically do everything. Sure, his jump shot isn’t the most consistent, but he can get hot and be decently effective. Artest provides toughness which the Lakers really need, but he’s figured out how to be a team player. Those bad shots that were so common with him are becoming a thing of the past and he came up huge when it mattered last season.
From Michael Schwartz, Valley of the Suns: What are the team’s biggest weaknesses? And then there’s that other end of the court, which once again won’t be a major Suns strength. But the biggest weakness will likely be rebounding. This was a major issue going into last season, yet thanks to the emergence of Robin Lopez the Suns actually posted a positive rebounding differential for the season, a major reason they managed to secure the West’s No. 3 seed. Switching out Amare for Hedo at the four and it would be a surprise if the Suns could post another positive rebounding differential. Interior defense will be an issue as well. The Suns possess a dearth of quality of interior defenders (and rebounders) aside from Robin Lopez. Phoenix likely will be starting Hedo Turkoglu at the four, which could be a matchup nightmare for opponents when the Suns are on offense but is sure to cause problems for the Suns defensively as well.
From Will Cantrell, Bright Side of the Sun: What Could Have the Biggest influence on the upcoming season? Chemistry. Injuries. Size There are a flood of “if’s” surrounding the Phoenix Suns entering the 2010-11 season. If Robin Lopez’s back gives him trouble and results in significant time off the court, the Suns could be in for a long season due to their lack of front court size. If Steve Nash misses significant time, is Goran Dragic ready to step in to the starters shoes? If the new guys cannot play together, make up for Amare’s loss… if, if, if…Bad news all around. That’s the pessimistic and “expert” view. On the other hand, the new guys know how to play the game, it’s up to Alvin Gentry to mix and match. After some experimentation, this team could be a very tough match up for a lot of teams. Gentry even believes they are better than last season. I think he may be right.