- It has been readily admitted over the years by defending champions that the competitive edge is somewhat lost the next season until the playoffs. As the two time champs, this must be doubly difficult for the Lakers and it shows. Not playing 100% in games against good and bad teams, blowing big leads, getting outhustled on both ends of the court, and struggling to get motivated have been stumbling blocks for Los Angeles this year. Now that it is getting closer to the post-season and the games count for more, they must regain that killer instinct and play 110% against teams from both ends of the spectrum.
- Andrew Bynum is the key to this team. He has more than proven himself in these 10 games since the allstar break. Averaging 12.2 PPG, 11.5 REB, 2.5 BLK, and 60.7% FGP since the break, his value on both ends of the floor has been tremendous. His biggest impact has come on the defensive end however, blocking 2.5 shots a game and changing countless others, players think twice about venturing into the painted area while he is on patrol. If he continues to play at this level and stays healthy, not only will the Lakers 3-peat, but he will be an All-Star for many years to come.
- The only teams in the league who pose a serious threat to the Lakers come playoff time are San Antonio, Oklahoma City, and Boston (The latter only in the Finals.) San Antonio has the experience and star quality to pose a threat, while Oklahoma City has the youth, quick point guard play, and the only player in the game in Kendrick Perkins who can consistantly battle Bynum night after night. Either one of these teams would prove quite a battle in a 7 game series.
- When the bench in playing well, the Lakers are near unbeatable. The ability to give the starters extended rest and still produce has been an up and down battle for the bench this year. The "Killer Bs" meaning, Steve Blake, Matt Barnes, and Shannon Brown, have played up to and even exceeding expectations in many situations throughout the year but still need to push up to that championship level that has been shown in flashes this year. Brown needs to fine-tune his shot selection and take it to the rim more often, Blake needs to be more aggresive on the offensive end, and Barnes will need to show that his knee problem is taken care of and didn't affect his explosiveness and hustle. Lamar Odom has been fantastic off the bench(and in some starting situations) and continues to expand upon the best season of his career. He will need to keep being aggressive, taking good shots, and looking to the offense first, as well as playing in the paint more often than he has been. Being a substitute for Bynum or Gasol, he needs to realize that his duties lie mainly in the post. His size and quickness pose infinate matchup problems for opposing teams and when he is taking advantage of these scenarios, he is more often than not, the Lakers second best player on the floor. They need him to recognize the mismatches and take full advantage if a 3-peat is to happen.
- Pau Gasol is exhausted. His amazing play through the first 3rd of the season with Bynum out is what kept the Lakers winning during that stretch. However, the physical toll of playing 38+ minutes a night in the post during that span has really added to inconsistant play throughout the remainder of the season. He is such an integral part of the team and when he has an off night the offense really struggles to get going and the defense is certainly not as strong. Phil needs to start finding ways to get him more rest per game and drop his minutes down to 30-32 a game until the playoffs. Gasol needs to be at full strength or the road to the finals will be long and difficult.
- Kobe Bryant is still the games best player. You can have Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Derek Rose, i'll still take Kobe any day of the week. He's still capable of doing the amazing every night, but this season he has really taken a step to keep the team together and involved during the game. There's been a few times when he's done his thing and deviated from the offense, but generally speaking it's been the team first and himself second. Kobe's M.O. has been to spend the first half running the offense through the team with a few shots himself, and then the second half is him doing whatever is needed to win. Whether it's him taking the shots, playing defense, or dealing out assists, he is indeed the complete package and is showing it this year despite nagging injuries that certainly must make things difficult night in and night out.
- The Lakers have really stepped up the defense since the All-Star break, holding opponents to 88.1 points a game, 41% shooting and 31% from beyond the three-point line. This new commitment to defense starts with Bynum who anchors the paint, therefore making it much easier for the wing players to close out on the shooters and then force driving players into Bynum who will then block or disrupt the shot. Any championship team cannot win without defense and the Lakers are finally showing they are more than able to put the clamps on any team they choose. (See the win vs San Antonio)
Posted on: March 14, 2011 4:33 pm
The Lakers have been at the center of the basketball watch this year, a team that has seemingly struggled to beat the top teams consistantly throughout the year. Always the focus of intense media scrutiny, they've finally turned face and during a 9-1 post All-Star break run, have beaten teams like the Thunder, Mavericks, Blazers, Spurs and Atlanta. Here's my thoughts on the Lakers this year.