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NBA 2009 Preview: Los Angeles Lakers

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#1 Vudoo


    Vlad's Warm Fleece Blanket

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  • Joined: Jul 25, 2008
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  • Fav. Laker:Kobe Bryant

Posted September 20, 2008 - 08:21 AM

I don't know if anyone's seen this already, but I found it pretty interesting...

Believe it or not, hoops nation, the 2008-09 NBA season is less than 30 days away. To help you get through the final month, HOOPSWORLD is breaking down each of the 30 NBA teams in order of their records from last season - worst to first. Each day we'll unveil two teams, one in the morning, one in the afternoon. You can see our previews of the entire NBA here!

Now, without further ado... here's a look at the Los Angeles Lakers:

Five Guys Think...

Travis Heath
Last season was nothing short of an amazing year for the Lakers when you consider it in its totality. The Lakers were heavily favored to beat the Celtics in The NBA Finals but ended up coming up short. Next season looks just as bright, though, for LA. Assuming Andrew Bynum is healthy, the only question is really how well he can mesh with Pau Gasol. Given Gasol's ability to play facing the basket, one has to believe the adjustment won't be too difficult. Perhaps the only other question is the big game ability of Lamar Odom. Odom played very well in the first two rounds of the playoffs but had his fair share of struggles in The Finals. There were rumblings about Odom being shipped to Sacramento for Ron Artest that got Laker fans excited, but in the end it looks like the Lakers will head into next season with a roster fairly similar to the one that helped the franchise rise to the top of the Western Conference in 2007-08.
1st Place, Pacific Division

Jason Fleming
The best team in the West, and the team with the fewest questions. The contenders all have a "what if?" attached to them to make it out of this tough conference, but the Lakers' big question – the health and integration of Andrew Bynum – only makes the West's best even better.
1st Place, Pacific Division

Tommy Beer
Anything less than an NBA Championship this season would have to be considered a disappointment. That is a lot of pressure to open training camp with, but the Lakers are hoping that big man Andrew Bynum is healthy and ready to pick up where he left off last January. The Lakers will need him, as they clearly lacked a dominant post presence against Boston last June. If the Bynum is a beast, which much of Laker Nation believes he can be, LA could approach the 60-win plateau.
1st Place, Pacific Division

Wendell Maxey
With the return of Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant looking to prove something after faltering in the NBA Finals last season, the Lakers have to be the odds on favorite to win the West again.
1st Place, Pacific Division

Yannis Koutroupis
The Lakers get even better now with Andrew Bynum coming back from a knee injury that caused him to miss 47 games and the playoffs last season. Lamar Odom making a smooth transition back to small forward is key, but this Laker team has the potential to be flat-out dominant and they are definitely the class of not only the Pacific, but the West right now.
1st Place, Pacific Division

Top Of The List:
Top Offensive Player: Chris Mihm? Come on, it's the Los Angeles Lakers. The game will always revolve around the scoring prowess of guard Kobe Bryant. Arguably Bryant is the most lethal offensive force in the league. The challenge this year will be to balance his individual capabilities with arguably the most talented team he has had in Laker uniform since center Shaquille O'Neal left town. Some would contend he has more talent around him now than he did when the team was winning championships – but that's for history to decide. Last season Bryant matured dramatically as a team player, earning his first MVP award. The Lakers will need more of the same from Bryant to get back to the NBA Finals – and beyond to the title.

Top Defensive Player: Andrew Bynum. Without minimizing what the Lakers need defensively from Bryant (a regular on the All-Defensive Teams), LA needs a true center protecting the basket. Bynum has the potential to be a game changer with his shot blocking and rebounding. After watching from the sidelines last year with his knee injury, Bynum says he's and healthy and well aware of what he needs to do to on the defensive side of the ball.

Top Playmaker: Kobe Bryant draws so much attention; he can be especially lethal with the pass. The pick and roll with Bynum last year just carved up teams. Bryant also had great success dishing to forward/center Pau Gasol – the potential with both bigs on the floor is tremendous. The Lakers could be a very special passing team with forward Lamar Odom, point guard Derek Fisher, the two big men and Bryant. Off the bench guards Jordan Farmar, Sasha Vujacic and forward Luke Walton only add to the strength (although Vujacic is far more likely to shoot on the touch).

Top Clutch Player: All the talent in the world can take a team so far. Someone needs to have the closer mentality and that's Kobe Bryant. Enough said.

The Unheralded Player: Lamar Odom. There's a perception that Odom is inconsistent, unfocused and at times invisible. There may be some truth to it quietly he averaged 14.2 points on 52.5% shooting, 10.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists. The numbers don't lie and Odom is an integral part of the Lakers' game plan. Many players are lost when they're not the focus of the offense – unable to find a way to contribute. Odom conversely thrives in that environment. He may be overpaid for a fourth option – but that's likely a worry for next summer.

Best New Addition: Sun Yue. The Lakers didn't really add much at all over the summer. If anything Bynum is the best addition since he wasn't available for any of the playoffs. He alone could be the difference . . . but as far as a true newcomer the most intriguing acquisition is Chinese guard Sun Yue. It's difficult to gauge how quickly he'll adjust to the NBA but he's a 6'9" playmaker who has shown flashes of defensive ability while playing internationally. Ronny Turiaf replacement forward Josh Powell could help. Minutes may be sparse but he's a solid rebounder with a decent jump shot.


Edited by Vudoo, September 20, 2008 - 08:24 AM.

My computer is broken so I'm not on as much...

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