Kobe wants to leave us. We lost Garnett to Boston. We exited last year in the first round, again losing to the (more and more hated) Phoenix Suns. And here we are, dying for the season to start!
Behind the scenes Lakers management are still considering a major move. Mitch Kupchak’s line, however, remains the same, that the Lakers as currently composed can be very good. Guess what Laker Nation? He’s right. Get psyched, because here’s ten powerful reasons why now is not like then, and why you should share Kupchak’s optimism.
1. The Fish
Yes. Derek Fisher is back. Experienced. Heroic. Need I mention this moment from the 2004 playoffs. . .
How about Fisher’s dramatics in Utah. . .
For years now, Kobe has been forced into the role of one of the few elder statesmen of the team, the wise old man, the teacher, the mentor. That’s not Kobe’s natural strength, and now Fisher can fill that role, he’ll settle the offense, provide experience and triangle guidance. Kobe, meanwhile, can go back to being what he naturally is…a killer.
2. Kobe Giveth
Phil is moving Kobe back to the top of the key instead of the wing. This was his position for most of the Lakers’ threepeat. Defenses will have more problems keying in on Kobe. He’ll be more able to facilitate, find open shooters and thread the ball down low.
This was the Lakers record last season before a rash of injuries crippled and plagued them. Down went Odom. Kwame, by seasons end, didn’t even jump tips. Luke got injured. Maurice Evans hurt his knee. Radmanovic went from injured in training camp to incapacitated by seasons end, and the Lakers went from an excitingly deep team to being stretched thin and ineffective. Now, the Lakers’ health is returning. They are excitingly deep once again. The forcast for this season? Look for another tantalizing start with a high probability of strong finish.
4. A Three Headed Monster
With Phil Jackson planning an aggressive defensive strategy using Bynum, Kwame and Mihm, the Lakers defense should have a vibrant new look. The centers will be jumping out on screens. With the luxury to burn through so many fouls, our monster can more aggressively clog the middle, bodying up, intimidating, and blocking more shots. Laker foes will think twice anytime they have an inkling to take the ball to the hoop.
5. J. Critt
Everyone who paid attention to the summer league knows that Javaris Crittenton provides a lot for Laker fans to get excited about. It’s no stretch to imagine this guy as a future all star giving the Lakers another dynamic backcourt scoring option. Hopefully, long before that, he’ll be playing lock down D on an annoying Steve Nash. Crittenton is passionate, intelligent and seems to carry himself well. Now let’s see how fast he develops.
Last years’ defense was a problem spot. This year Phil is strongly considering starting Ronny Turiaf. Coupled with the Three Headed Monster this gives the Lakers a lot of bang and board. It would reduce wear on Odom, who could use his length and athleticism to help contain opposing small forwards. In addition, Fisher’s tenacious, veteran smarts will be an upgrade defensively, and Kobe’s looking quick and lean. What happens when the NBA’s quickest, Barbosa, tries to outrun a Mamba? We all found out this summer, and it wasn’t pretty.
Lack of dissent and distraction. Addition by Smushtraction. Need I say more? Harmony off-court leads to focus and unity on-court.
Last year triangle dynamics remained an issue. This year, imagine a crunchtime lineup of, say, Kobe, Fisher, Odom, Luke and Mihm. Presto. Iscocelation. Equalateralization. Perfect triangle geometry. The long interviews full of ‘we’re a young team’ rhetoric are over. These Lakers are a brew that’s been stewing, an alchemical formula that’s coming to it’s maturity. There is youth in the mix still, but most of these players no longer need to painfully think their way through a new offense. The maturity point for this group is now.
9. Breakout Bynum!
Bynum’s returned, but packed with more muscle and in far better condition. We now enter year three in what many pundits predicted as a three year path to contribution. If Bynum can have a breakout season, the Lakers will be a force to be reckoned with. For young player assessment I, in part, use a complex, statistical method of analysis, a personal method of matrix-like code watching.
In this system, let’s call it The Da, Bynum has been rating well. But young Bynum isn’t the only player we should be looking to for a leap forward this season. Lamar Odom was on an all star path before multiple health issues struck. Even hobbled, he went out last season with a 33 point and 10 board bang! He is clearly poised to reach another level as a player.
Luke Walton spent a great part of the early season as the league leader in three point field goal percentage. His total point output more than doubled last year from any previous season, but his coming out party was, like Odom’s, cut short by injury.
Chris Mihm didn’t play last year and may return as a force. Vladimir Radmanovic and Maurice Evans were triangle rookies and got injured before they could excel. Ronny Turiaf looked good, providing endless energy, and was notably poised in his first full season (The Da has taken clear note of Turiaf’s young stock too. Analysis… Buy.)
Even Kwame Brown, who has more muscles than God, is in a contract year and therefore remains a wildcard. Any of these guys could break out this year. Likelihood indicates that more than one will.
10. We are the Lakers!
Is it magic? Ownership? Fate? Downtimes for our Lakers have been historically proven to be shorter and milder than an LA winter.
So listen up Laker Nation. Don’t languish in a bewildered Garnett-less depression. The value of our players is on the rise and, if necessary, there is still time for a major move. In the meantime, the season is starting. The warriors are assembling. So stand firm and don’t let your faith desert you. I’ve gotten a glimpse of the direction this Laker Buss is heading. And it is up!