Analyzing the New Lakers

J.M. Poulard —  December 18, 2011

With the Los Angeles Lakers one week away from starting out the season, we asked some of the FB&G contributors to answer a few questions in our first installment of 3-on-3. 

1.How does Lamar Odom’s departure affect Kobe Bryant on the court?

Jeffrey King: I don’t think Lamar’s departure will have too drastic of an effect on Kobe, but I do see a possibility where Kobe could wear down as the season progresses.  While we’re no longer using the triangle, Odom was one of the primary ball handlers and distributors in the offense, and his absence will only place more burden on Kobe in these areas.  This will only be further exacerbated if Steve Blake continues to struggle or if the Lakers don’t acquire an impact point guard.

Emile Avanessian: Immensely. An unintended benefit of the lockout is that it provided Kobe Bryant with a greater opportunity to rest his achy knees (and whatever else is sore) than he’s had in some time. Odom’s departure totally negates that. Now Kobe must not only navigate his body through a brutal schedule, he will be called upon to do so as the Lakers’ only creator on offense.

J.M. Poulard: With Mike Brown on board, it’s more than likely that the Lakers will run a more classic offense (although parts of the Triangle will remain), which will require the guards to assume a lot of the ballhandling duties. Derek Fisher, Steve Blake and mostly Kobe Bryant will consequently be relied upon to get the team into the offense and to deliver the ball to scorers. Odom’s absence means that Kobe will have more heavy lifting to do as far as creating scoring opportunities for himself and others.

2. Andrew Bynum asked last season for a bigger role on offense with the team. With the reigning 6th man of the year now in Dallas, should the Lakers lean more on the center?

Jeffrey King:  With Odom gone, Bynum will almost certainly be asked to play more than the 27.8 MPG he averaged last season, while still missing 28 games.  While 24 of those were at the beginning of the season, Bynum still missed random games in the middle of the season due to wear and tear.  Without Odom, the Lakers absolutely cannot afford to have Bynum missing random games, and he must play more minutes than in the past.  So the question isn’t really whether the Lakers should lean more on Bynum on offense (and defense), the question is whether Bynum can handle the extra burden.  Adding Josh McRoberts helps in some regard, but if the Lakers don’t acquire a backup C, Gasol will have to make up the 18 MPG at C.

Emile Avanessian: For the good of both this season and the future of the franchise, yes. Jim Buss has long proclaimed that Bynum is the future of the franchise, and paid him accordingly. Flashes of incredible dominance, to say nothing of his role in two championships and three conference titles in four years justified the team’s decision to refrain from swapping Bynum for Jason Kidd. The Lakers are now at another crossroads with their gifted young center.

With a condensed schedule, an aging Kobe, no Lamar Odom to step in where needed and a $16+ million decision looming next summer, it’s time to determine once and for all if Drew is a franchise cornerstone in the NBA.

J.M. Poulard: With Odom now in Dallas, part of the offensive burden should immediately fall on the shoulders of Bynum; but given the condensed schedule it’s possible that reducing his minutes and thus his workload may be a necessity for the team to make it to the postseason with any type of health.

Thus, it may behoove the Lakers to rely on rotation players such as Metta World Peace, Devin Ebanks, Derek Fisher, Steve Blake, Matt Barnes and Josh McRoberts to name a few during the regular season to help carry the load. There will be nights when things look ugly but as long as they make it to late April with a healthy team, the strategy will have served its purpose.

3. Are the Lakers talented enough as presently constructed to win the West?

Jeffrey King:  While I believe the Lakers are talented enough to win the championship, I do not think talent is the way to predict whether they’ll win the West in the regular season.  With such a compressed schedule, depth will be the best predictor of regular season success, in my opinion.  As presently constructed, the Lakers have two below average PGs, a below average backup SG, and no backup C.  So no, I don’t believe the Lakers have the depth and youth to match teams like the Thunder and the Grizzlies.

Emile Avanessian: Technically yes, though I’d be reluctant to wager on them doing so. The Lakers’ top three still compares favorably with any trio in the NBA. However, as presently constituted, the remainder of roster lacks the quality to stack up against the best in the West.

Dallas goes at least seven (and up to nine) deep with quality NBAers – and Dirk is still Dirk. Meanwhile, Oklahoma City boasts not only one of the league’s best 1-2 punches, but great size and defensive prowess in both the front- and backcourt. Finally, last year’s sleeper, the Memphis Grizzlies, features the conference’s best front line and an ever-improving Mike Conley at the point.

Are the Lakers capable of winning three playoff series, presumably two of them against members of this group? Sure, but it’s an incredibly tall order with virtually no room for error.

J.M. Poulard: Although the positions are different, the Lakers are a mirror image of the 2010-11 Miami Heat. Indeed, they will have three players that will carry the bulk of the load for the team but once we get past the big guns, we’re not entirely sure what the supporting cast will bring. Nonetheless, there is enough talent on the team to make the NBA Finals and possibly win it.

The one area of concern mind you, is that much like the Heat last season, the 2011-12 Lakers are not built to sustain injuries, which are more than likely to occur during a shortened season. Ultimately, expect health to determine not only the seeding but also the team’s ability to advance in the postseason.

J.M. Poulard

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64 responses to Analyzing the New Lakers

  1. If our two bigs and the Superstars plus the supporting stars are aligned to MBrown mojo, watch out, this team is on the way to another Championship. It is a matter of jelling and all moving towards one objective. Forget the on&off switch, the touches, the one man job, the emotional side distractions, the forthcoming trade, the communication skills of our coaches and front office – what the Laker community needs is FOCUS on the Championship. Leave all the additional baggage on the trunk of respective cars.

    If fans complain as if the sky is falling, they just imitate the inquisitive media, If media is worried, then fans have the right to be worried as well. Media takes everything into account in order to arouse and sell stories. Fans react because they’ve have passion in their veins. There is nothing wrong about that, getting worried means they want to be involved, they believe the team have not attained perfection. Performers need optimism but not blind following for the sake of being regarded as optimists. You can’t deny truth just to embrace positivity. Realism is also a part of life. Therefore, whatever people are thinking, performers has to learn how to separate the multi-tasking or strategies/tactics to ultimate objective setting. There is only one objective here (if you wear the purple and gold) that’s Championship. It takes a lot of hard work, camaraderie and a little IQ to accomplish the job.

  2. Since fans don’t participate in the training sessions and have input only from the talking heads covering the Lakers – each of whom have their own agendas – fans rarely have enough information about anything other than front line players.

    The other problem for fans is that they normally don’t analyze anything, other than how things went last year.

    These two points mean that we really do not give anyone credit on this current team, other than Kobe, Bynum???, Pau, Fisher, MWP. If this were all the team was made up of, then this might be ok. However, we do have an experienced and successful general manager, an experienced coach who has taken his team to the finals. We all should give these people some level of credit for signing – or not signing – available NBA players.

    We scream about who we want, but can’t really evaluate how they would fit into Mike Brown’s system. We give absolutely no credit to newer players who are likely to see good improvement from last year. We sing the praises of players who had career years last year (LO), while complaining about those players who had down years last year (Blake). The truth is that both players will likely move toward their mean performance this year – they are vets, after all.

    Like the news, the good stuff doesn’t make good copy and isn’t reported or remembered very much.

    I have concerns for this year, but this ‘the sky is falling’ attitude is really tiresome.

  3. baron davis chooses knicks

  4. I said a few weeks ago, prior to the Odom dump job, that this team has a wider performance range than any Laker team in about 30 years.

    With Odom gone that is still true, just at a lower level. Things go well, the team is 2/3 in the West. Things go badly, the team is 7/8 or worse if Bynum suffers a major injury. That doesn’t even take into account the Howard situation and the possibility of the TPE.

    I don’t buy the Miami comp at all. James, Wade and Bosh are still in their 20s (Wade will be 30 this year). James and Bosh have great health records, and Wade, after a couple of injuries, has stayed on the floor the last three years. If Kobe were 29, Pau were 27, and Bynum had good knees, I would buy a Lakers “Big 3.” Those three are very, very good, and it helps that two of them are 7′ tall, but there are issues with them.

    Beyond that you have a roster of role players, with the worst PG situation in the NBA.

    I do think Brown’s positive energy will help the team, at least initially. But Edwin left a key thing off his list at the Post #1: talent.

  5. I like this new feature.

  6. I would have signed Davis if he had wanted to come here, and I am mildly surprised that he didn’t.

    As I have said, I think that playing Fisher in the The Triangle was reasonable/defensible, but I think a few games in the new system will show people he needs to be a 10 MPG guy from now on, if he plays at all.

    But whether Davis would have helped is a very open question. He is 32 and has a back problem and other baggage.

  7. The Lakers PG position repels even marginal NBA talent like Baron Davis.

  8. Robinred, I absolutely agree with your assessment with regards to talent as an important ingredient to get to the top. If you analyze this team from top to bottom, do they have talents? I think it’s there, it’s a matter of motivating those tired and sleeping cells among the stars and activating the absence of defense on incoming stars. Before they joined the NBA, who is Jason Kapono? one of the best players here in Los Angeles, high school and collegiate. Who is Gerald Greeen? The amazing human who can fly, shoot basketball and celebrate birthday in the air? Who is Troy Murphy? The finesse 3 point shooter. As is they are the best that they could be. It is just a matter of Coach Brown putting those talents into action. Well the existing crew are not that bad if you read their past accomplishments from Peace, Barnes, Blake. All of them have strengths and weaknesses, who does not have one in other teams? Therefore, when it comes to talents, it’s already there. some talents have been inactive because they stayed with under performing teams for so long, some players forgot that their talented after constant reminder that they are too individualistic. I said they need a little IQ how to harness their know-how and blend it with others to attain synergism. Without that combination, there will be conflicts and division.

  9. Aaron@6, the PG situation may well repel players who can’t or won’t step up to fill the void, but why would the Lakers want somebody like that?

    I mean, after all, they already have Steve Blake; why add to the collection? If he gets hurt, they need another stiff who can’t or won’t contribute?

    BTW, is there evidence the Lakers had any (let alone serious) interest in Davis? As pointed out by robinred above, the dude has issues.

  10. Davis’ rep is worse than his actual numbers; he might have helped.

    But like I said, it’s an open question.

  11. The best answer to the “Lamar” questions asked above is, “we don’t know, but we’ll find out soon enough.”

    “Talented enough” may not be the right question.

    The better unasked question would address balance and chemistry, and Edwin(1) goes a long ways to providing an answer to that one:

    “If our two bigs and the Superstars plus the supporting stars are aligned to MBrown mojo, watch out, this team is on the way to another Championship. ”

    The Brown Laker team (we have yet to see) might be a lot more disciplined–and much less free form. Many more role players, and more specific roles.

    And there is youth!

    If he wishes, Brown could support Kobe with Morris (pg), Ebanks (SF), McBob (PF), and Bynum (C)–much younger than those aging legs in Miami! Or, he could dial in the experience: Fisher/Blake (PG), Barnes (SF), Gasol (C), and Murphy (PF). That leaves out defensive specialist and second team leader Ron Ron (aka MWP), 3 point specialist Kopono, and ball distribution specialist Walton.

    The other unanswered balance and chemistry question: which Kobe will show up for 2011-2012?

  12. Aaron, how many years is it now that you’ve been begging for an upgrade at PG? it’s been so long that virtually everyone agrees with you by now – and yet, for one reason or another, they just haven’t been able to do it (and may have actually regressed).

    it just *must* be a conspiracy!

  13. Robinred, on a previous thread I mentioned that I shared your concern but not your pessimism, so is won’t come as any great surprise but I think an upside prediction of #2 or 3 in the west is unduly pessimistic. That suggests that if things go well you don’t think the Lakers can make it to the Finals.

    I definitely think the Finals are within reach if the team stays healthy (big “if” of course, but we’re talking about things going well).

    As of this moment, I think the Lakers roster is better than the one that ended last season. Gone are Ratliff, Joe Smith, L.O., Shannon Brown, and (essentially) Caracter. Instead, you have McRoberts, Murphy, Kapono, and Morris. Lamar is clearly better than anyone on the current bench, but was last year’s bench better as a whole? Not in my opinion.

    Three of the team’s four bigs literally added nothing last year, so it is easy to see this year’s reserve bigs adding more on the whole. Moreover, Artest will be a reserve this year. Ebanks has, by all accounts to date, made a huge leap and is positioned to make significant contributions. Kapono is a better shooter than anyone on last year’s team. And Barnes, now healthy, will add a lot more than last year (and will make the starting unit far more atheletic).

    When you add a healthy Bynum, it seems to me that this team is (on paper, and if healthy) better than last year’s squad. And there is still that trade exception that could land a serious player before the trade deadline. None of this is to suggest that they are a lock to win the west, but it definitely looks like a team that COULD do it–especially when the reigning champs got worse, and no other contenders got better.

    It’ll be fun to watch, for sure.

  14. dr rayeye,

    The issue I have with that is that you are focusing on the positive attributes of every player and leaving out the negatives.

    As to Odom, it is pretty simple: the guys replacing him aren’t as good as he is. The question will be whether extra touches and time for Bynum will make up for it.

    Murphy and McRoberts are a reasonable Plan C, assuming Plan A was Paul and Howard and Plan B was the same team with a couple of tweaks. But Plan Cs are Plan Cs for a reason.

  15. The team has improved its perimeter shooting–maybe. But the guys they added have big minus signs.

  16. Tomorrow’s game can’t come fast enough. Finally some real basketball to talk about. I am excited about all the question marks; so many questions to be answered on the court. I appreciate the freshness of it. I confess that last year things felt kind of stale.

    I don’t think LO’s departure is going to be that big of a deal – health and the point guard play are going to be what determines how far this team goes.

  17. Darius apparently took down my post responding to dr. rayeye. Don’t see why.

    Edwin, the new guys have some plusses. But guys like Green, Kapono, Murphy and McRoberts were all available cheap for good reasons.

  18. Looks like it is still stuck in moderation.

  19. A healthy Bynum and Barnes plus Pau, McRoberts, and Murphy is a better front court better than a not healthy Bynum, Pau, LO, Ratliff, and Joe Smith from last year. No?

    This pessimism is ridiculous. The current starting front court is as good or better than any in the league, and the only teams that have anything close to what the Lakers have don’t have a guy like Kobe.

  20. robinred,
    While LO may be a better player than those who have replaced him, there is something you are missing. The Lakers are now playing a different system, one in which the Swiss Army Knife talent is not as valuable. It looks to be better to have people who can do specific things better than Lamar. Lamar was good at everything, but inconsistent at most of what he did. He truly consistently rose to the occasion only in the last year. IMO, he is likely to tend back to his mean this year – especially in a new system he has to learn (Lamar has not been a quick learner). Also, he carries a good sized salary tag and we do have to look into what we will be doing going forward.

    When we analyze Lamar we have to do it within our new system, not by looking only at what he did last year or how good a person he is. We have a locker room leader in Fisher – do we need two?

  21. if darius morris can consistently get by his defender, man, he’s going to really benefit playing alongside 2 bigs with range–pau and murph.

  22. Robinred, you maybe right in some aspects but you can also be wrong if players strength are aligned or shall we say morphed to what MBrown wanted them to be.

    Drrayeye may also have a point in stressing the positive contribution of these newly acquired players and he capitalizes on strengths rather than their inherent weaknesses.

    You two represent two diametrical POV’s, yet still agree on Lakers per se. I think that is the beauty of the blog, we all have opinions on the matter with limited inside information.

    Someone suggested that we should not offer any “knee-jerk” reactions without inside information because we are only fans. I don’t know about that. I think blogging empowered fans participation, opinions that could be construed as asinine, too idealistic, glass half-full or half-empty – the good thing fans are participating not just plain bystanders readers or cheerleaders. Of course, you can’t agree with everybody, eventually you have to agree to disagree. If we have limited information on an issue, must we shut up until we get all the information? Shall we make all opinions in conformity to what the threads advocate?

  23. (14) Robin, you’ve made some strong statements/judgments about the 2011-2012 Laker team/players in various recent posts.

    It is not clear what these judgments are based on. Perhaps they are based on asssumed shared blogger conjectures. I don’t know. They are speculations that seem premature to me.

    Since I have not seen a single scrimmage or pregame, I can neither agree nor disagree with you about prospects for this team, nor make up to date comparisons between specific players. I suspect that I will reequire at least 10 regular season games before I can make any judgments at all.

    I’m neither optimistic nor pessimistic about prospects for the Lakers this upcoming season. I like to test my impressions against evidence before I make serious predictions/projections.

  24. The Lakers are now playing a different system, one in which the Swiss Army Knife talent is not as valuable

    __

    How do you know this? And a couple of things you are missing:

    Odom is a better defensive player, by a considerable margin, than Murphy or McRoberts. That won’t change in a new system. Murphy is known to be one of the worst defenders in the league.

    Also, Odom’s salary is very reasonable this year, and his contract for next year was not guaranteed–other than a 2.5M buyout. Dallas will probably use that option to go after Howard and Williams in FA. The contract is why Odom was always in trade rumors. If you are worried about salary:

    BLAKE 3 YRS/4M A YEAR
    FISHER 2 YRS/~4M A YEAR PLAYER OPTION
    MWP 3 YRS/~ 7M A YEAR 2 PLAYER OPTIONS
    WALTON 2 YRS/6M A YEAR

    And of course Kobe and Pau are guaranteed 143M over the next three years.

    Odom, other than Barnes and maybe Bynum, had the most team-friendly contract on the roster. And finally, Odom was Bynum insurance.

    Murphy and McRoberts are a good idea to replace Odom. Dumping Odom to Dallas, so quickly, however, is indefensible unless the TPE is used to set up something else.

  25. McRoberts and Murphy are replacing Odom, as will extra time for Bynum and Ebanks. That is clear. It is not clear whether Murphy has anything left. We will know soon enough.

    If Bynum stays on the floor and has a big year, the Lakers will indeed have a strong frontcourt. He never has. I hope he does, but the fact remains: he never has.

    As to the backcourt, Mike Brown has said that Kapono, Barnes, and Ebanks will see time at the 2–IOW, they don’t really have a true backup 2. This may work, but all those players have obvious negatives as shooting guards.

    The PG situation we know about.

  26. Shaping up to being an interesting season, but the problem I see off top is an unbalanced roster:

    5 Small Forwards (Barnes, Peace, Walton, Ebanks & Kapono)

    3 Power Forwards (Pau, McBobs & T. Murph)

    1 Center (Drew)

    1 Shooting Guard (Kobe)

    3 Point Guards (Fisher, Blake & Morris)

    Questions: Who’s the back up 2? I’m figuring Ebanks gets a look here. Definitely has the size and athleticism, but unless he’s improved dramatically from last season, his jumper and ball-handling makes him a liability. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Barnes (after the initial substitution) get spot mins here also.

    Where does Kapono fit in? We all know why he was brought in (shooting), but being 1 dimensional (non-athletic; terrible defender), what else can he add? And @ whose (Metta’s) expense?

    Can ‘El Presidente’, realistically, be counted on to provide anything (besides leadership) in a ‘Traditional Offense’? I’m of the belief that Blake will have a MUCH better year than last and judging off what I’ve seen from Morris (a playmaker with good size & court vision), albeit against college opposition, wouldn’t mind seeing him get some mins. Especially in a season in which depth is a major priority.

    Where does T. Murph fit in and what does he have left? I can recall him being an excellent jumpshooter for someone his size (6’11) and a good rebounder. But this was a couple of yrs ago, before the injuries. It’s obvious that, after working him out, our Front Office saw something in him that they believe can help the squad, but Mike Brown said recently that he works 3 Bigs within his system. So after Drew, Pau & McBobs, he’ll have to find some room in the rotation for T. Murph. Especially with this condensed schedule.

    What’s the ‘Frame Of Mind’ of our Big 3? Pau coming off a terrible post season and then being traded. Only to have the trade vetoed and having to come back (in a sense). Drew (and Pau still) continuing to hear his name in trade rumors. And last but definitely not least, Kobe having to deal with everyone writing him off. Will he play within the system or will he, @ the expense of the team, focus too much on shutting up the critics? Can’t overlook his Personal Issues either.

    So many questions. Can’t wait til tomorrow night, when we start to get some answers.

  27. Gerald Green is in Lakers uniform..he is a back-up SG

  28. healthy bynum trumps everything.

    seriously.

    but healthy for how long?

    That’s the question nobody can answer.

    Those that are pessimistic figure that Bynum will get injured, which is something I can’t fault them for.

    Those who are optimistic think that all of that is behind him and this, finally, will be his breakout season, which is something I hope to be true.

    Me, i’m cautiously optimistic because it’s not in my nature to be wanted proven right about somebody’s misfortune.

    I’ll be drinking and praying to bynum’s health for the (shortened) season.

  29. My guess is that Brown will start subbing in players midway through the 1st qtr and we will see multiple combinations throughout the game. He may have a specific rotation, but I doubt it will be as rigid as Jackson’s. He will probably ride the hot hand a bit.

    If I am correct, this will augur well for a condensed schedule. Starters will not have to get really extended stretches of playing time and will also get some specific rest periods, readying them for the 4th qtr. More players will be in the 5-10 minutes per night and we should see better development of our younger players throughout the season.

    We have young legs; they just need to get some consistent playing time to be comfortable with this team.

    Phil experimented with his lineups, but had a very rigid rotation schedule. This makes it hard for youngsters to get more playing time as they improve – they need to be able to make mistakes and learn from them with further practice in real game-time. I suspect this will be a real plus with having Mike Brown as the coach.

    I like his defense first and think all our players will benefit from this change of routine. All players get somewhat stale, over time, with the same structure.

  30. Eddy Rivera (of Magic Basketball) did some good statistical analysis on Barnes back when he was with the Magic, and found that while he’s an effective (though not elite) defender at the 3, his defensive productivity falls substantially when guarding the 2 spot. Defensively, I don’t think he’s a good option as a backup to Kobe. Which means we have a lot riding on Ebanks.

  31. I agree that we will see 10-11 guys getting run in varying combinations. There can be fine line between flexibility and confusion and Brown needs to stay on the right side of it.

  32. And yes, Bynum is the key to this season. He needs to get the job done and stay on the floor, whether doing that is a prelude to a Howard trade or not.

  33. Dallas is a shadow of last season’s team. I know, it’s only a pre-season game, but you can see the mojo without Chandler and Barea is not there.

    If we underperform tomorrow, no panic at all. I just hope Kobe thinks like me; he will not be happy if that happens.

    Under the new system, I can’t see how Fisher will be better than Blake as a starter PG. He’s Kobe’s friend, lockeroom, intangibles, etc…But I don’t see how he can be a better starter than Blake or even Morris…oh, well.

    Tomorrow will be a weird day. No Lamar, then Green, Kapono and McBob wearing purple & gold…

    Cheers.

  34. I think its best to check rotations after seeing games… right now Mike Brown is assessing things depending on how practices go and probably seeing what kind of team we would be based on what we have, not on what we coulda woulda had.

    MB has established his starting 5: Fish, Kobe, Barnes, Gasol and Bynum. Although, on the 1st 5 games this lineup would immediately be altered due to Bynum’s clothesline on Barea. I expect the more atheltic McBob to have the start as he will split time with Troy Murphy in the overall minutes logged.

    I see Fisher being subbed out by Steve Blake, who will get majority of the minutes. I don’t think he will magically become cp3-lite but I think Steve Blake without the TRI will become Steve Blake once more. Solid, unrestrained, collected vet who knows what to do. That said, our PG rotation is still atrocious but if Blake can be himself then its atleast a good start. Now that Baron has decided to go NY, I am more or less relieved that we do not attract more drama than what we already have by signing the Baron.

    I see Caracter being cut due to his injury. Its unfortunate but its necessary. I see us signing free agency leftovers like Yi Jianlian in the process just to shore up our big man depth. We have alot of holes and we are far from being complete but we’ll have to live with it for now.

  35. why does everyone assume mcbob will start ahead of troy murphy? If you look at their career (baring injuries), Murphy seems to have a much better career (and can provide the 3-point shooting the Lakers desparately needs…)

  36. Dallas is a shadow of last season’s team. I know, it’s only a pre-season game, but you can see the mojo without Chandler and Barea is not there.
    ____

    This is yet another reason the Odom dump is a such a problem.

  37. Although Brown says he doesn`t care about the results of the 2 Clipper games,and just wants to work out rotations and get down some basics,I want to see our 4 pgs against the Clippers in all facets of the game. I`m confident in Laker talent and depth at the other 4 positions.

  38. They are speculations that seem premature to me.

    __

    They are not “speculations.” They are based on the performance records/age of the players in question.

    Jason Kapono is 30; Troy Murphy is 31. Both were barely hanging on in the NBA last year. Murphy may bounce back some. Josh McRoberts is 24, but has been in the league three years now. He improved last year and may get a bit better. Devin Ebanks may be a pretty good player, but his ceiling is probably rotation player/average starter. He has almost no NBA game experience.

    Steve Blake is 31. He may do better out of the Triangle, but even if he does, he will be a slightly below-average PG at best. Matt Barnes is 31. MWP is 32. Pau is 31. Kobe is 33. Fisher is 37.

    Bynum could still get a little better–if he can stay on the floor.

    Could some of these guys do better this year in different roles etc? Sure. But I see little objective reason to think that this team will be significantly if any better than last year’s team.

    What helps them is that the the same can be said of the other WC contenders, save perhaps OKC. The two most-improved teams will likely be Minnesota and the Clippers.

  39. As before,
    We need people very good at a specific skill to fit in Brown’s system, not a jack-of-all-trades good player.

    I too, would rather work with Lamar than without him, but he wanted a trade and I think that just gave the Lakers an excuse to trade him.

    The benefit will be others with specific skill sets will now get his minutes. We should be much better at the end of the year than at the start.

  40. Even with L.O., Dallas won’t make it out of the first round as they acquired the curse of Vince Carter.

  41. Robinred, it is just a matter how you view the peaks and valleys of talents, I think all the players you mentioned except for Fisher are at their apex at this point. Kobe at 33, you’d think he has slowed down but I think he’s now smarter than he was at a younger age. You know how Kobe plays when he has a personal problem. Lamar & Metta last year had hangovers so they were not playing with desire and purpose but just going with the process totally dependent on PJ, triple tower domination during playoffs. Did you not notice there is no game to game court management wherein Lakers would take a weaker team seriously.

    Going back to Kapono, McBob’s delight, Troy and Gerald – this is it, a dream come true to play for a team bound for Championship. They have been interned with other teams for so long, suddenly they got this chance. They chose to play with the Lakers because this is their chance to get a ring. They played for contracts in the past now it is for fame and posterity. That mojo should start at pre-Christmas, give us those rain of threes from all corners.

    On the part of Pau, it is his hour redemption. For so many months, he has been harboring pain, distress and have not heard the end of the blame game from English to Spanish to Catalan language – “Pau is a sissy, can’t handle Dirk”. Spain won the European Championship but for Pau, it is nothing compared to the meltdown in June.

    For Bynum, this is his show, it is like he’s applying for the job and this will be his last interview, a make or break situation.

    Now if you are MBrown, turn on those switches and it will provide the combinations of lights that you never have imagined.

    I hope my friend, I convince you to come to our side and start on a clean slate. It’s time to bury era LO and/or Shanwow, Sasha, Farmar who have contributed b2b glories, time to end the concept of “nolo contedere” of the past scrubs.

  42. Starting lineup of (effectively) three all stars and two (at best) role players, with a weak bench behind them. The bench might improve up to mediocre by the end of the year. Brand new coach and system, with almost no pre-season. I think that the goal is to get to the playoffs healthy, without worrying about the seeding, and hope that Gasol, Bynum, and Bryant can put a string of great games together. It’s possible, but doesn’t seem likely.

  43. Edwin,

    I have been a Laker fan for 30 years, so I will be as happy as anyone here if things go well.

    That 30 years of fandom has taught me a lot about the game, and one thing it has taught me is that high-level talent 1-8 is the key to winning championships. The Lakers are very short on it 4-8 and what they have 1-3, while talented, is past-peak and infirm.

    So I pretty much agree with exhelodrvr. As constructed, this team’s best shot is a surprising run from a 4-6 seed. That is possible in the West, but not likely.

    Craig,

    Again, I am not sure why you think Brown’s system will be more conducive to 1-2 dimensional role players than to a guy like Odom. But even if you are right, the only thing to like about the Lakers’ off-season is that they have added three players with some range–Kapono, McRoberts and Murphy. However, those players were available cheap because of other flaws in their games and in the case of Kapono and Murphy, advancing age.

    The other thing to like is that I think Brown will play Ebanks 10-12 minutes a game and may possibly even play Morris a little.

  44. (42) Welcome to the new CBA where, in the very near future, less has to be more.

    You think the Lakers have problems?

    The Heat have not yet found a center or a PG; the Celtics may have to start Danny Ainge at center and use the ballboy as a backup for Paul Pierce; the Nicks amestied their allstar pg to get the Maverick’s former center; the Mavericks, after shedding a great deal of star power, are even more unbalanced than usual–what will they do with Lamar?; The Thunder still haven’t found their third scorer–and Perk has not led many fast breaks; The Griz are holding onto OJ Mayo by a fingertip; AK47 went to Russia with love and the Jazz still misses coaching and Deron; the Nets are still terrible; and–the Clippers are still the Clippers.

    I could go on. . . . . .

  45. drrayeye,
    What interests me is what the general viewing interest in the NBA will be in 7 years. It just may be that the owners will want to renegotiate the CBA because the public interest has dropped, due to the total lack of any really interesting teams. If all the teams are only truly interesting to their local fans, then we may have a national sport with only local interest. This would result in really poor national ratings and TV would gravitate to the local sports channels. Right now everyone wants to see the Lakers, Heat, and Celtics, but that interest doesn’t have to continue in the new CBA climate.

    This would be a disaster for any club’s revenue and it is possible only a dozen or so clubs in the largest cities would be able to survive.

    Now wouldn’t that be a real kicker for the current ‘small market’ owners?

  46. As I suggested in 43, and as ex suggested, the lack of a great teams in the West gives the Lakers some hope, and it is, again, another reason why handing Odom to Dallas was so inexcusable unless it leads somewhere we can’t see yet.

    But all of the following teams:

    Miami
    Chicago
    Oklahoma City
    New York
    Memphis
    Clippers

    are more likely to improve this year than the Lakers are. The top 3 are all better than the Lakers are right now. All of them have younger stars than the Lakers do.

    Dallas lost Chandler and Barea, so will give more playing time to:

    Odom
    Carter
    West
    Haywood
    Beaubois

    They still have Kidd, Nowitzki, Marion, Stevenson, and Terry plus those 5 above. They have a good team.

    Boston still has the big 4, and has added Brandon Bass. Jermaine O’Neal is their center. They are thin 7-12.

  47. “The Thunder still haven’t found their third scorer–and Perk has not led many fast breaks” – Drrayeye

    The Thunder do have 3 legit scorers: Durant, Westbrook, and Harden.

    But I do agree with your overall point. Every team has flaws….

    All you need is a chance and the Lakers definitely are still in considered one of the Top 4-5 teams that can win it all this year (OKC, Miami, Dallas,Chicago/NY)

  48. Don’t forget that during a shortened season, while tired legs may cause occasional discomfort, experience wins. Of course this is solely based on the last shortened season.

    Basing it off on that, it would also mean an 8th seed will make it to the Finals and cause a league-wide stir only to fall to a more fundamentally-sound team.

    There is much to criticize about the team as is, but It could be worse. Those that criticize the Odom move continue to piss me off coz saying that we “dumped” him altogether is ignorant of Odom’s trade request which Mitch acted upon swiftly rather than be an in-season distraction. Of course that trade request emanated from the failed CP3 bid, but then again, while most of us didn’t like it, we saw it was a necessary move to make.

    The Lakers are not a perfect team as is. I have been the strongest advocate for change since the lockout ended. But I wasn’t necessarily advocating Cp3 or D12 either. There are other deals that can be done to rejuvenate the team, or make us a better team in the short term and the future.

    Odom’s departure provides a must-do situation for Bynum, which, for the most part has 3 consequences:

    1. He is the beast center we were babying him after all these years.
    2. He proves that he is nothing but a Greg Oden who has mount olympus as his potential but can never get through it.
    3. He is good enough to warrant a deal to get Dwight Howard w/o involving Pau Gasol or taking back Hedo.

    The move also forces MWP to man up. Either that or a complete implosion.

    The move may bring a miracle heal to Luke Walton’s back.

    The move may enable Kobe to trust his teammates more.

    The move may bring back the old Steve Blake, who for the most part, isn’t much, but much better than last year.

    The move may draw out a steal of a player in McBob… or a rejuvenation of Murphy or the resurrection of showtime, this time Gerald Cupcake Green version…

    I could go on… but overall the point will always remain – ANY CHANGE IS GOOD – for this ruined bunch, who is now dangerously being touted as a fringe playoff team.

    That + Kobe’s divorce.

    I wouldn’t put a great deal of dollars on the Lakers this year, but I would not wager a single dollar against us either.

  49. One team missing from that list of flaws is our impending holiday sparring partner – the Chicago Bulls

    They look pretty damn good

  50. Craig,

    Anyone who has thought through the new CBA finances knows that future NBA teams will be structured very differently. In fact, it’s happening already:

    Filling out a roster on the cheap.

  51. Drrayeye, to support that latest thought: also expect more 1-yr 7M deals for the likes of Kwame Brown.

    So never expect him to sign for the Lakers minimum anytime soon next July. No matter how much you need his post defense and stone hands.

  52. Also, you and I should be busy concocting our next Laker heist. Last time we did that, everyone criticized us to death but ended up kissing our feet.

    That Pau Gasol guy is quite good I heard…

  53. Here is how the Lakers could have won with getting Howard or Paul.

    Trade Odom for a legit starting point guard.

    Play the chumps of the bench (which will soon be the case on all NBA teams with the new CBA) in shorter rotations and work them to the point of exhaustion on defense. Even weak defenders can look good for a while with hustle.

    Sadly, none of these will be true because of the combination of heir commandant Stern and the new Laker’s management. Jim ain’t no Jerry.

  54. Sorry meant without getting Paul or Howard.

  55. @49

    Indeed. Chicago will tell us somethinh about the Lakers immediately.

    ________

    There is much to criticize about the team as is, but It could be worse. Those that criticize the Odom move continue to piss me off coz saying that we “dumped” him altogether is ignorant of Odom’s trade request which Mitch acted upon swiftly rather than be an in-season distraction

    ____

    Then you can add the Lakers’ team captains to the list of ignorant people at whom you are pissed off, as both Kobe and Fisher spoke out against the deal.

    It may have been necessary to trade Odom. It was not necessary to trade him less than a day after the Paul deal fell through, and it was not necessary to trade him to Dallas. Odom might have, as Kobe suggested, been fine after a week. Or he might not have. We will never know now.

    Also, as K Bros, who are actually around the team, pointed out, this is a team that is, shall we say, used to playing through “distractions.”

  56. 3. He is good enough to warrant a deal to get Dwight Howard w/o involving Pau Gasol or taking back Hedo.
    ____

    Getting Howard without giving up Pau would make up for all the previous issues. I think there is very little chnace it happens, but we can hope.

    I do agree with you that this is huge season for Bynum.

  57. Interestingly enough, the Lakers are now really surrounding Bynum/Gasol/(that dude from Orlando) with a bunch of PFs who can shoot. While I lament Lamar’s departure, as Chuck Barkley said, you can only play 5 players at a time and oftentimes, that meant Bynum was on the bench in crunch time.

    I would like the team to resolve the back-up shooting guard situation. I don’t think we can rely on G-Lock, Devin, Barnes, or Kapono, to be the back up guard. The latter three are not shooting guards but natural SFs b/c they are not good ball handlers. G-Lock is a rook, and an undersized shooting guard. I think due to the compressed schedule, a back up shooting guard will be essential to the Lakers.

    There will be a lot of cuts/releases coming after the Clippers games. I think G-Lock may be cut as well as Caracter, to allow the team to have 14 players and the flexibility to make other moves for the surprisingly large number of still-free agents (Deshawn, Gilbert, etc.)

  58. So did we ever use the Sasha Vujacic trade exception or was that just a salary dump at the cost of a first round pick?

    I don’t know why anyone ever thought the new Fox deal meant anything for the team.

    Oh well at least maybe now they’ll force Luke into retirement or just amnesty him (unless they’re saving the amnesty for Kobe)

  59. Fellow Lakers fans,

    I hate to do this, but I can’t go to the game due to work, but if anyone is interested I’m willing to get rid of my tickets for tonight’s Lakers game at 50% off FACE VALUE! I’m located in Sect 115 row 7. Email me at amit@jelloisjiggling.com. I’m also selling my season tickets for the rest of the year so if you would like to be added to my email distribution list feel free to email me.

    As for the game, we need to send a message to our “little brother”. I think this game is going to be a bit chippy (can see Barnes/Artest causing a little ruckus). Basketball is finally here!

    Go Lakers!

  60. Our guys are gonna do just fine. Here’s a great article on the team’s chemistry heading into the season.

    http://www.ocregister.com/sports/bryant-332127-lakers-chemistry.html

    Mike Brown was a big part of why the Cavs had such great chemistry with Lebron. I’d say it was more because of Brown than Lebron that they got along so well. Top that off with us having the league’s best closer and we got a team that can perform when we need them to, unlike what he had in Cleveland.

    Here’s to a Lakers-Heat finals. Lakers 4-2!

  61. 12)
    Yep. At first I was complaining 8 years ago we were starting the 28th best PG in the NBA… Then the last 4 years I was complaining we were starting the 60th best PG in the NBA. I’m on a cruise… So I won’t be able to complain very often this week about anything other than food.

  62. I don’t believe the Bulls game will be a good indicator of how the Lakers’ season will go, beyond the fact that the Lakers will likely lose on Christmas, and I expect this will be a season in which the team struggles due to its poor point guards and lack of size off the bench.

    With a new coach, the loss/absence of two key players (Odom and Bynum), and an abbreviated camp, the Lakers come into this game at a severe disadvantage to a Bulls team that is largely intact following a very successful 2010-11 season.

    The Lakers are much closer to Square One this month than the Bulls, so it’s not fair to say the Dec. 25 game will be a good indicator of how the year will play out.

    You really have to see how the Lakers look after Bynum returns, and after they’ve had a little more time in Brown’s system before we can really gauge how well the team stacks up against the competition, though again, without an upgrade to Fish/Blake I’m very wary of the team’s chances, even though I expect a huge year from Bynum.

  63. First comment here. Congrats for the blog, I’ve been following it for the last 3 years

    It will likely be a very weird and rough year and I don’t know what the Lakers will end up with. But I like the challenge, Kobe will be a beast this year.

    As many have mentioned, there are plenty of unpredictable variables to deal with (possible trades, Drew’s health, Kobe’s health etc) but I like the idea of going back to basics (team spirit, “one-two-three-RING” kind of thing).
    Again, i don’t know where the lakers will be next june, but it somehow smells like 2007-2008.
    cheers