90040781NG034_GRIZZ_LAKERS

The bigger they are, the harder they fall. Or in the Lakers case, the better they are, the more opponents, pundits and haters want them to fall into the fiery pit of defeat.

It’s no secret — the Lakers are good. Championship good. And for every prediction (see: Bill Simmons’ every hope) that the Ron Ar-Test will be the demise of a new Lakers dynasty, there is an even greater prophecy come true in the oracle that is Kobe Bryant (see: Bill Simmons’ hate). Though it’s true that this Lakers team begins, goes through and ends with #24, basketball is, after all, a team sport and as skilled and menacing as he is on the court, Kobe did not earn that fourth ring alone.

Lakers depth — that was what analysts last season claimed was the team’s greatest strength. At Kobe’s side were a cast of teammates with various levels of experience who, like him, simply played (or had the opportunities to play) their part through the victorious end, and play it to the maximum of their physical and, most importantly, mental strength.

Last year’s playoff performance for the younger “cast members,” however, left a lot to be desired and the previously heralded “BenchMob” (minus Lamar, who basically played starter’s minutes last season when Andrew Bynum was in foul trouble), fell under much, and well deserved, scrutiny for its relative lack of production in the title run.

Now, every analyst and beat writer point to the LACK of depth on this Lakers squad as over-rated and a liability to a team hoping to repeat as champions. If there were ANY season to prove people wrong, this season would be the closest so why not start now? The reserves certainly did their part to get the team the second best record in the NBA last year, and they filled in holes in the playoffs when necessary, but now that they have another year of experience behind them, the hopes and expectations for their recovery and contribution to a back-to-back title should be, and are, much greater than ever.

The pre-season was exciting and played out well for the reserves, but the real season started and suddenly the bench — COLLECTIVELY — could only score 7 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists against an inexperienced Oklahoma City Thunder squad. There is, however, a potential for greatness on this Lakers bench, glimmers of a BenchMob bounce-back seen in the last couple of games against Memphis and New Orleans.

A rarely used player like D.J. Mbenga and erratically played big man, Josh Powell, have been summoned early to fill in monstrous roles upon the absence of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, and they have taken full advantage of the faith that coaches and teammates have shown them.

D.J. blocks and rebounds like it’s a reflex.

Josh Powell, as if the Lakers needed another weapon, has been shooting the threeball like he’s been doing it for years.

Luke Walton may never be the first scoring option on a team, and he may never be an All-Star, but his passing ability and acumen trumps any weakness he may have. A decent shooter, he often finds opportunities to score by merely out-hustling his opponent to a rebound.

With a productive summer league behind him, Adam Morrison’s shooting touch seems to have returned and he looks determined to show that his third overall draft pick position was no fluke.

And tt the guard rotation; Sasha, unfortunately playing behind Kobe and sometimes Shannon Brown, has spotted and shot successfully. His stroke looks more relaxed and determined.

Shannon has plays back-up lead guard but also looks comfortable as a two guard alongside Jordan Farmar. Shannon is that player off the bench who just comes into the game ready to do any and everything necessary to win.

With everyone breathing down Derek Fisher’s neck about being old and slow (and of course we know he’s not close to being so), Jordan has looked natural and more deliberate in running the offense and finding his teammates for scoring opportunities.

The Lakers, in a manner of speaking, are stacked.

On paper, analysts say, the Lakers are a formidable team — “the team to beat,” some claim. But you don’t win Championships based on how great you look on a stat sheet. You win based on the skill, power and teamwork you play out on the court.

The reserves on any team have numerous chances each season, each game to choose their identity: be a liability or be an insurance policy. With their eyes set on a back-to-back Championship, the BenchMob should have ambitions on latter.

  • http://myspace.com/3wyshes 3 wyshes

    Lets not get to down on our bench when Pau and Bynum return together that sends LO back to breath some much needed life into our bench then we will be ok.

  • Alv

    going back to that fact that basketball is a team sport. ok you can say that kobe didn’t earn his 4th ring alone, but at the same time when shaq was there, wouldn’t it make sense to say shaq didn’t earn those first 3 rings by himself either.
    everyone should stop trashing on kobe’s first 3 rings just because they were with shaq. like it said basketball is a team sport and shaq wouldn’t have one them without him or any of their other teammates.

    • Laker Marc

      Shaq isnt even a Laker anymore…. why harp on that? the point of that comment is to give credit to a talented team, despite Kobe’s godlike status as a player, he cant win a championship alone…don’t believe me?, ask LeBron. The team deserves some credit…Trevor was HUGE in that ….and they’ll do it again…Although the Cavs have one of the greatest and most gifted players, that team is weak and like capable of taking it, thus despite LeBron, they aren’t good enough, The Lakers are? And after seeing Boston lose like that to Phoenix, they have matters to address, as well.

      • http://www.facebook.com/maria.arayza?ref=profile laker_girl85

        Shaq was a dominant force in the early millennium dynasty, he won the finals MVP in each of those runs. Since a lot of people have jumped on the “dissing Shaq bandwagon” let me be the first to give credit where credit is due. Shaq was(keyword) the best! But we all can agree that what was then, is no more. lol
        So yes now this laker team is KOBES in every aspect and he will write his own legacy.
        believe that!

        GO LAKERS!

      • king jaime

        After seeing the Lakers lose to Dallas, they matters to address as well since they couldn’t adapt very well with the Gasol absence…

  • Short Dog

    It’s all gravy right now. Kobe will pass shaq then jordan.
    When Gasol and Bynum come back our bench will be deeper.
    Lakers cruising towards a Championship!

  • http://rivalmedia.tv Chris Ekstedt

    okay.. so my comment isn’t a great one. but this far into the season, you bring us this? i don’t understand.. maybe if the season was about to start then maybe this article, but it just feels late.

    i mean it’s great! well worded and accurate. but yeah… a little late.

    • Anna Gonda

      Still early in the season, Chris. Lots more game to see from these guys.

  • Sean All Ivy

    With a healthy Pau, Lamar becomes the #1 option from the bench and we will start to get much higher quality minutes from the reserves.

  • WifelovesLuke

    “Luke Walton may never be the first scoring option on a team, and he may never be an All-Star, but his passing ability and acumen trumps any weakness he may have. A decent shooter, he often finds opportunities to score by merely out-hustling his opponent to a rebound.”

    Nice to see that other people out there with some basketball IQ understand this guy and his “value” to the Lake Show.

    Now let all of the Fluke comments begin…..

    1-2-3 Ring!!

    • Anna Gonda

      Luke is the ultimate team player, isn’t he? Sacrificing a starting spot for the good of the team? He may not be flashy or have the stats comparable to other guys in his position, but sometimes the effort and the success from it is undeniable.

    • http://LakersNation Marwan

      For a small foward, he can deceive you. A small forward handling the ball like a point guard. He can pass without a flash or a trace. He can make the toughest shot situations for his teammates the easiest. He finds their sweet spot and he knows where they want the ball.

      And Yes, HE IS A VALUE TO OUR TEAM. THINK OTHERWISE AND YOU ARE NOT A LAKER FAN.

      • WifelovesLuke

        Wow…I’m shocked! Normally I’ll say something good about Luke and his ability within the Triangle offense or something like that and then there is a slew of negative comments about how he sucks or how he can’t shoot the ball. My favorite is the constant “trade him” comments made by undeducated “fans” with no basketball IQ. But you two are different. Kudos to you both!

  • drive-for-16th

    Who ever says that u can win a ring alone is dumbass, chrles barkley said that pippen dont get any credit cause michael jordan was the focal point and he won those rings. it pisses me off when this is a team sport, and ppl say kobe couldn’t win without shaq, shaq never won without a team i wanna see him out there alone i vs. 5 see if could win a ring back then, teams win championships its not a 1 person accomplishment, ppl need to stfu who say he couldn’t win himself and he couldn’t do this. Kobe never won alone he had an incredible team and still does. I never heard any one say that magic couldn’t win without kareem and shit like that. its just these days ppl have ntn better to do and just hate on a good player. A kobe gets soo much hate and doesn’t get the credit he deserves even now, and now ppl say his team was too good that he didn’t do much. It just pisses me offf to hear that crap when basketball is a team sport, EVERYBODY NEEDS EVERYBODY TO WIN. That stupid talk these days is nothing but stupid media and stupid analysts like charles barkley who always hatin on the lakers if u haven’t noticed.

    • Anna Gonda

      Ditto.

    • Sean All Ivy

      Great points. Let the haters hate, we’ll just keep winning.

    • http://LakersNation Marwan

      Winning a ring alone is like winning the Lottery. The chances are stacked up against you so hard, that you give up hope on winning.

    • 242LakerFan

      “Lakers, down by 1, here’s the shot from Shaq, no, good. Rebound tapped out by Divac, Shaq gets it at the top of the circle, puts up a three at the buzzer…goooood!”
      “Shaq drives the lane, he’s cut off by Pippen, flips a pass to the hoop to Shaq, ally-oop, slam-dunk! And the Lakers take the lead!”
      “0.4 left on the clock, Shaq to inbound the ball, trying to find someone open. Passes in to Shaq, turns, puts it up, YES, and it counts!”
      Don’t you guys recall all those great Shaq moments in LA Shaqers history? It was all Shaq all the time!
      ;P

  • p a

    Its pretty obvious that other than SBrown the bench mob are all one trick ponies. One rebounds, one passes, one shoots, one brings down the ball. These guys are great as role players, PJ just has to stop playing them together as a unit.

    • WifelovesLuke

      Did you actually look at any of the box scores before you made such an ignorant comment?

      What did you think of Mbenga when he got a double double in his second start? One trick pony? Walton with 7 assists off the bench? One trick pony? I can go on but I think you get the message. Your comment was LAME , DUDE. JUST LAME!!

      • http://LakersNation Marwan

        She is right. Mbenga put up 7 blocks in one game (doesnt matter if its preseason, each game counts as much as the last), games later, puts up 4 blocks, then as soon as he starts, averages double doubles.

        Sasha going over 50% with all his shots, last few games, missed no less than 2 3pt shots, including against Hornets where he got a 3 pointer and one.

        Farmar’s hustle is only a once in a life time for him. Nope, he didnt hustle the whole game when DFish was out in the Rockets series in Playoffs, he didnt hustle against Grizzlies and shut AI down.

        Like WifeLovesLuke said, Luke is an outstanding player and yes for a Small Forward he shouldnt average so much assists, but that makes up for his lack of points. He is a pass first type of player.

        Shannon Brown is shooting efficiently and his dunks are momentum builders and that can change the pace of the game. Plus it gives the crowd their money worth. Dont think he does it for showboating, its part of the game.

  • http://57.amklac kobe,bi-curious?

    so how many triple doubles will super-man have this year?maybe 2?

  • king jaime

    The Laker Bench is only composed of one man…The Candy Man…Luke is gonna disappear after the all-star break and well into the playoffs…Sasha is Sasha…Farmar needs help with Point Guard 101…Shannon Brown needs to stop being a Show Boat…Josh Powell will get eaten alive in the Playoffs…Morrison will take his shoes off again when he loses his stroke from the bench…Mbenga will have to take the b.s. fouls and not get any love from the zen master…D-Fish will be clutch…KB wants the mvp…Pau will dominate…and Bynum still remains a mystery…

    • http://LakersNation Marwan

      Man does anyone care what your 2 cent are? We didnt need a story about the Lakers.

      Heres the 411.
      -Kobe doesnt want the MVP, he wants the ring.
      -Bynum isnt a myster, you saw how hes playing.
      -D Fish will always be clutch.
      -Pau will still dominate
      -Shannon Brown isnt a showboat, does dunking make you a showboat? If so, then Michael Jordan was a showboat, Lebron is a showboat, DWade is a showboat.
      -Morrison just came back from an injury, give him a break, he needs to find his stroke again.
      -Sasha found his stroke, he has been on fire lately and will continue to do it.
      -Josh Powell has been playing great and is developing his 3 point shooting.
      -Mbenga is a great shot blocker and often when you tend to block a shot, you miss the ball so his fouls are reasonable.
      -Farmar is playing great too.
      -Luke Walton is a great playmaker, he doesnt shoot as often and it doesnt always go in, but his court vision makes him play like a Point Guard.
      -As good as Lamar Odom is, he does not compose the bench. The bench all work together.

      Get the picture? Next time get your facts right before you actually talk.

      • Anna Gonda

        Thank you, Marwan! You said it all, buddy!

      • king jaime

        you’re a typical fan who only sees the good and doesn’t want to see the faults cuz to you your Lakers are close to flawless. Guess what, I didn’t write a story…it was similar to yours but not in list form…

        In regards to Shannon being a showboat, can’t be a showboat if you got nothing to back it up…KB, MJ LBJ, D-Wade can showboat – they got the stats, skills and mindset to be a winner!!! Shannon is just a scrub.

    • 242LakerFan

      Yeah.

    • WifelovesLuke

      King jaime = ingnorance

      • king jaime

        what makes my comment an ignorant one??? it’s the truth…this is all you can say WifelovesLuke!!!

        • WifelovesLuke

          “The Laker Bench is only composed of one man…The Candy Man”

          “Shannon Brown needs to stop being a Show Boat”

          There’s two of them for ya, jaime. Oh, and not truth….just your opinion.

          1-2-3 Ring!!!

          • king jaime

            i guess you’re missing the point Luke’s #1 fan…Lamar is the only one off the bench worthy to be on that floor with the starting 5…the rest are just there to look cute and collect a ring

      • http://LakersNation Marwan

        Man you speak like its so easy to play in the NBA. Geez, these guys work hard every night, whether it shows or not. It may not seem like much to you, but I thank them for trying. You should be proud of the team too. I know Lamar is the only one that is actually scoring double digits every game off the bench, but the bench puts in the effort too. You are overlooking their abilities.

        -Mbenga’s amazing shot blocking ability
        -Sash’s pesky defense
        -Farmar’s hustle
        -Shannon Brown’s athleticism and energy
        -J Pezzy’s shooting and rebounding
        -Luke Walton’s court vision and passing
        -Adam Morrison’s length is an advantage over others and can rebound too.
        -Odom’s rebounding, passing, shooting. An all around player.

        So as long as each bench player does their part, they can play a good game, the reason they dont score much as a bench is because they all have specialties, they are not all Kobe’s or Jordan’s from the field.

  • http://vinginor@aol.com onlyone laker fan in L.A.

    go lakers bench mob will show up they have before and will again .

  • SD Anthony

    Please don’t even mention that slug, smimmons. That guy is a jackoff.

  • Robert

    recall that Ariza was a member of the bench mob at one time. I know many of y’all are pissed off at Ariza for bailing, but he was a good fit for the Lakers, and esp. the bench mob.
    Unfortunately, most of the ‘mob’ are role players, and not stars. They have to play well together, in order to make an impact. Remember 2 years ago, when they were the highest scoring 2nd unit in the NBA? What happened with that?

    • Anna Gonda

      I was, and still am, a huge Ariza fan. He didn’t leave on ideal terms (not that he wanted to but we all know who to point the finger at for that) and he WAS a great member of the mob but even as a starter, he was still a role player. They’re ALL role players, from Kobe to Morrison. Everyone’s got a job on the team.

      They’ll get their impact up and get that swag back. They got one ring with minimal contribution. They must know they can get another one with more production.

      • http://LakersNation Marwan

        Ariza was great and I thank him for his contributions, but look at him now. He is really struggling. Just goes to show he needed Lakers as much as Lakers needed him. He can’t get the open shots from Pau and Kobe being double teamed.

        But Ron Ron is getting there. Give him a few more games to get his shot. You saw against Grizzlies how well he shot the ball and his D was amazing. So mix his shooting with his D and you have yourself a great contributer.

        Anna is right too, they need their swag back because remember 2 years ago, the bench was the same throughout. Since then we have had a makeover on the bench and starting lineup. i.e. Adam Morrison, Shannon Brown, Ron Artest, Josh Powell. They need at least a full season to get to know where each other’s sweet spots are, they need to find a rhythm they can all play to and voila, you have yourself a brand new 2nd unit. By the way, whats so bad about our 2nd unit now? I like them for the way they are playing whether its bad or not, Sasha misses? Who doesnt? Give them a break and be a proper Laker fan and cheer them on!

  • lakerbunny

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  • John Fisher

    Ok who is better Kobe or Jordan? Just kidding…good article Mbenga, Shannon, and Powell seem to have gained a lot of confidence this year. Looking forward to an interesting season – I see a Nuggets/Lakers rematch in the West that’ll bring back memories of the Kings/Lakers rivalry of old.