Blog Entry

Preseason Primers: Los Angeles Lakers

Posted on: September 24, 2010 5:27 pm

With one of the NBA's biggest stars, Carmelo Anthony, possibly on the verge of being traded, the offseason still hasn't ended. But it ended three months ago for the Lakers, who celebrated their second straight championship, made a couple of mundane moves, and got ready to do it all over again. The defending champs didn't make a Miami-like splash this summer, but they didn't need to. And the moves they did make clearly made them better. Word is that Kobe Bryant, entering his 15th season, can't wait to go to work. Miami won it all in July, but the Lakers are the undisputed Kings of June until proved otherwise.

Training camp site: El Segundo, Calif.

Training camp starts: Sept. 25

Key additions: Steve Blake (free agent), Matt Barnes (free agent), Theo Ratliff (free agent)

Key subtractions: Josh Powell (free agent), Jordan Farmar (free agent).

Likely starting lineup: Derek Fisher, PG; Kobe Bryant, SG; Ron Artest, SF; Pau Gasol, PF; Ratliff, C.

Player to watch: Andrew Bynum. As you can tell from his name being omitted from the training camp starting lineup (which matters only for scrimmaging purposes), Bynum is hurt again. Well, not so much hurt again, but rather still hurt – or better yet, not recovered. After the praise Bynum received for playing through a significant knee injury during the Finals, he’s receiving equal parts scorn for delaying surgery until after he completed a planned trip to the World Cup. Both were deserved. Coach Phil Jackson said Friday that he can’t see how Bynum will be ready for the start of the regular season.

Chemistry check: All the tension over Jackson’s future was relieved when the Zen Master decided to return for one more season. His unique ability to handle strange personalities (he has a few on this team) and his knack for getting under the opponent’s skin will be needed in a big way. If the Lakers started the NBA arms race by acquiring Gasol a couple of years ago, the Heat went nuclear by teaming Dwyane Wade with LeBron James and Chris Bosh. Suffice it to say, a certain Laker who wears No. 24 took note. Sources say Bryant’s competitive fire – always an inferno – has burning even hotter with the prospect of this challenge.

Injury watch: Besides Bynum, Bryant will be limited as he continues to recover from a laundry list of ailments that hindered him throughout last postseason. Lamar Odom is coming off a busy summer with Team USA, and Jackson plans to take it easy on him in camp. Luke Walton (back) will miss significant time, perhaps the entire season.

Camp battles: The Lakers really only face their usual battles with drama, with Kobe’s moods, and with Artest’s Twitter ramblings. Once Bynum is healthy, the rotation is pretty much set.

Biggest improvement: Mitch Kupchak watched LeBron’s decision only out of curiosity; the Lakers weren’t landing any marquee free agents this summer. But they did improve in a key area that will prove to be of utmost importance the deeper they get into the postseason. Their bench got a lot better. Blake is the best backup Fisher has had in a while, and his presence will allow re-signed Shannon Brown to be used more in a scoring role. Barnes brings Artest-like toughness to a second unit that also includes Odom, Ratliff, Blake and either Brown or Sasha Vujacic (until he’s traded.)

Biggest concern: They’re the two-time defending champs, so there are no glaring weaknesses. The biggest concern, as always, is Bynum. He is forever the wild-card for the Lakers. When it’s time to play the Spurs, Mavs, Celtics or Heat in May and June, the Lakers will go as far as Bynum can take them.

Since: Feb 4, 2008
Posted on: September 28, 2010 2:12 pm

Preseason Primers: Los Angeles Lakers

Very well said, succinct and accurate!!!!

Since: Jul 12, 2010
Posted on: September 25, 2010 2:18 pm

Preseason Primers: Los Angeles Lakers


Since: Aug 25, 2009
Posted on: September 25, 2010 12:36 am

Preseason Primers: Los Angeles Lakers

Essentially what it all comes down to is this:
  1. The Lakers have the experience, the supporting cast, the coach, the superstar and now the bench to win it all again. Until the so-called super-team down in Miami proves that all those egos can co-exist (it hasn't worked for the LAST two super-teams), the Lakers are the team to beat.
  2. Bench, bench, bench. These were great offseason moves by L.A. The Lakers starters, as good as they are, are all getting up there in years and having a solid bench is vital. Look at Boston three years ago. Their bench was awesome and utterly outplayed LA's in the 2008 NBA Finals. And by having that deep bench, they were able to rest their stars more in the regular season, providing them with much-needed freshness in the playoffs. Steve Blake is an excellent pickup and Ratliff and Barnes give LA two guys who are proven vets and who will not wilt when called on. Add in Vujacic, who's a total wildcard and Luke Walton (who may or may not be healthy) and the Lakers bench has no deadwood, unlike last year (yes, I'm looking at you, Mr. Morrison).
  3. The rotations in LA have been set for the past three years, ever since they got Gasol. No camp battles, though I wouldn't be surprised to see Blake get a lot more minutes than Farmar got backing up Fish. He's a guy who can start in the NBA- Farmar wasn't quite ready in my estimation. 
  4. Bynum is not needed now. LA is experienced, they know Jackson's system and they are not integrating any new integral parts the way they did last year. Artest has had a season to learn the triangle and Blake is reputed to be a very quick study. Ratliff and Barnes will be counted on for defense, not scoring. So they don't need Bynum in preseason or in camp. Let the big man get healthy - he is understandably taking things slow. June is when LA will need Bynum, not November.
Good article on the whole. Again, this is a veteran team, the core has been together for quite a while and there were no major changes in the off-season. The Lakers rested, worked out, got to know their new bench and stayed calm despite the LeBron James-fueled hoopla. They'll be ready for the season and they all know it's a marathon, not a sprint. I expect Miami to probably end up with the best record, but IF everyone stays healthy, I expect the Lakers to win championship number seventeen next June. The 2011-2012 season will likely be a whole different kettle of fish, but this year I think LA is still the best team in the league and Kobe Bryant is still the League's most cold-blooded closer.

Since: Feb 4, 2008
Posted on: September 24, 2010 10:53 pm

Preseason Primers: Los Angeles Lakers

Thanks for the info. though i have seen alot of laker games i just had not seen any when Bynum was full health(playoffs). I wonder if having Pau on his team really hurts his numbers and effect on the game

Since: Sep 24, 2010
Posted on: September 24, 2010 9:44 pm

Preseason Primers: Los Angeles Lakers

in response to the Andrew Bynum question... Last year, if you recall, Pau Gasol spent the first 3-4 weeks of the season on the injured list plagued by a hamstring. In those weeks, Bynum was clearly the stand out center in the league. For that period, he averaged 21 pts & 12 rebs, well above the No. 2 center (D. Howard) numbers, he was in that period without a doubt, the best center in the league.

When Pau came back, there was obviously some chemistry issues for Bynum, as he was now the #3/4 option on offense, and struggled to find a rhythm in the offense. While it was an issue for Bynums fantasy numbers, it was not such a big issue for the team, so it went basically ignored.

To this point in his career, there is no question, he has not lived up to his potential consistently. However, this is completely due to injuries, when healthy we have seen many times the ability he has, and the dominating player he can become. Even with the inconsistency from his injury problems, his numbers are decent, and lend him to being a #2/3 center in fantasy. For now, he is basically a middle of the pack guy, but if healthy, whether or not cohesion improves he is without a doubt a #1 center, and may be THE #1 center if the cohesion issues are corrected.

Since: Jan 9, 2009
Posted on: September 24, 2010 7:00 pm

Preseason Primers: Los Angeles Lakers

Odom will be in the starting line up not Ratliff.

Since: Feb 4, 2008
Posted on: September 24, 2010 6:28 pm

Preseason Primers: Los Angeles Lakers

Is it possible Bynum is the most overrated big man in the NBA? sure he COULD be really good, but has he done anything notable?

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