2/2/09

The Devastating News out of Laker Nation

The news coming out of Lakerland today is that Andrew Bynum has torn his MCL and is out for 8-12 weeks. Collectively, Laker fans everywhere are saying, "We have heard that one before." Right after Laker fans said that, GM Mitch Kupchak is talking about how his life can never be easy. So here we go, another obstacle for Kobe and the Lakers to climb in order to get that championship that has eluded the team since 2003.

Since this news has come out there have been many opinions on what the Lakers need to do. In reality, the Western Conference is nowhere near as strong as it was a year ago. Despite what the standings may imply, the Spurs and Lakers are the top two teams in the Conference, and it isn't even close. The Hornets, Rockets, Nuggets, Mavs, Blazers, Suns, and Jazz are all in the same bucket. Will one of those teams make a move for a big man for the short term? I would expect that they are all going to try. Bynum's injury doesn't open up the West as much as people are thinking it is going to. We have to remember that the Lakers made it to the Finals with this same team. Farmar has also improved drastically, and you would be hardpressed to find a bench that goes as deep as the Lakers right now.

The one team that could break away from the pack right now would be New Orleans (when healthy). They have the pieces to be able to compete with the Lakers. The Spurs are the biggest concern for the Lakers. The Spurs had a 50% healthy Manu last year when the Lakers took the series from them. If San Antonio stays healthy, they have the pieces, experience, and everything in between to steal this away from the Lakers. Lets assume that does not happen. The top 3 teams in the East, Boston, Cleveland, Orlando, can all beat the Lakers. The Lakers and Celtics will play on Thursday, and we are going to get a taste of how the Lakers adjust to big competition in the absence of Bynum. Will they change their style from the Finals last year? Circle the game on your calendar because it is going to be our best assessment of the Bynumless Lakers. The game on Christmas Day with the Lakers/Celtics was not decided until the vey end of the game. Bynum added another dimension to the team, but it is up to the rest of the team to pick up from where they left off last year when Bynum went down, and hope for the best on his recovery.

The Lakers don't need to trade, they don't need to switch things up too much, they dont need to sign a free agent. They just need to play the same game they have been playing. This means that Lamar Odom needs to step up and be the 3rd option. Odom needs to be superior defensively. This is a contract year for LO so him playing well will be an audition for a big contract this off season. This also means that the Laker bench needs to step up more than ever. Josh Powell will need to suit up and is going to start getting big minutes. He is a more complete offensive player than Turiaf last season, and he brings another level of size off the Laker pine. Of course, #24 will be suited up and is going to take it upon himself to be a little more aggressive offensively. Kobe has mastered the, "when do I take over the game?-role". I do believe that if he feels the game slipping away early, he will be Kobe and do what Kobe does. Score and win.

There is no quesiton that this news has just made the playoff race a lot more interesting. Teams are salivating right now, but from here on out, it is up to the Lakers as well as the rest of the teams in the NBA to prove that they are worthy of a spot in the Conference Finals, and Finals.

1 comment:

Have Jumpshot Will Travel (a.k.a. Trashtalk Superstar) said...

I agree with you. The Lakers can get out of the West without making a move. They probably won't win a championship, but they can -- at the very least -- make a run for the Western Conf. crown (like last year). Bynum will likely be available, should the Lakers make it deep into the playoffs (they almost certainly will). However, after coming back from a knee injury, Bynum won't be at the top of his game.