now that the Lakers season is over, as a loyal fan I can only write a few thoughts on our starting 5.
Pau Gasol – Gotta love the guy, we were so desperate to bring someone in to help Kobe and as soon as he arrived he hit the ground running. Working with a great coaching staff, Pau helped us get to the finals 3 times in his first 3 years, and we won twice with him. But now it is different. He may have peaked yes, but it seems playing alongside Andrew, Pau can not shine no more, and Andrew is by far our main big guy. So as life in the NBA goes, I think we have seen Pau’s last game in a Laker uniform. But what could we get for him? Who knows, and for all I know, he might be right back with us next season, but hopefully he takes what happened this year to improve his skills instead of passing up wide open jumpers with the seconds ticking away with the game on the line.
Metta World Peace – Defensive juggernaut, but only if he gets the help. Those high pick and roll screens KILLED US. But at times, MWP displayed some Dennis Rodman like defensive skills on our opposing teams main offensive threats. He was asked a huge job, to lock down such star players as Durant, Duncan, Griffin, etc.. and he did so effectively and most of the time flawlessly. Then he elbows a dude in the head and as much as I believe that Harden purposely put himself right in MWP’s path during his celebration, I still feel MWP could have calmed down and just ran back down court. But, in the end, MWP defense can be mirrored by anyone else in the league. Do we keep him? Yes, but only cause with no salary cap space, we have no choice unless he gets packaged up in a deal with Gasol to go some place else.
Ramon Sessions – Since we grabbed Ramon during midseason the question has been if he was worth the trade for Fisher. The answer is YES. Sessions was more than 80% effective on guarding the fast speedy guards that would always destroy us. Fisher couldn’t keep up with the much quicker pick and roll speeds. Now of course Ramon has a lot of work to do this offseason to learn more about coaches offense and defensive sets and I feel he will show his true value next season. We got something good with him, I am very happy about him as our PG.
Andrew Bynum – Talk about bi-polar. If Andrew would have gave us the all-star effort he had given during the season, I really think we would have exposed the Thunder to their true weakness and probably been a 4 games to 1 series in favor of the Lakers. Andrew’s size and strength was unmatched by OKC. But did we use or more or less did HE USE it? NO. He passed the ball or got down on himself when double teamed or when he missed open shots. He did not apply himself enough to give more of an effort. Maybe he is stubborn? Maybe he is just not mature enough for the spotlight? Hard to say. All I know is that we CAN NOT LOOSE HIM. There is an epidemic of shortage of big men in the league, and Andrew needs to stay. I think it is more the coaches fault than his. Lets just hope next season he goes strong and the coaches have better sets for him especially against superior teams and close games.
Kobe Bryant – Few things come to mind about Kobe. First off is the knee surgery he had during the off-season. I think that procedure has added like 3 to 4 more years to Kobe’s career in LA. He is much quicker and much stronger than he has been. This is important to Lakers front office as they are going to have to decide to either look to the future without Kobe now or later and make another run at the title while we still got a healthy Kobe. Secondly, Kobe’s leadership. It has vastly improved. I feel that Kobe has embraced that he needs his team to follow him collectively or else they will never get to the finals again. But at the same time, when Kobe goes into the mode where he shoots the ball 40 times, well that’s when I feel the blame is not all on him but on his team mates an coaches. They need to see that is sending a message to them to “step it up” and work harder. Most the time the team does not follow, they just stand still and watch. And of course we lose. Kobe is arguably one of the best players we have in the league. He is not going anywhere and as much as he misses Phil, Kobe must embrace that in order to get that impossible 6th championship he must find a more unique way to win, other than what he knows now how to do. Whats the answer? I don’t know, I just know that he needs great players around him at all times. Surround him with lower than average talent and he will not be very effective come game time against the better teams.
Coach Brown – I am not sure how I really feel about coach this season. I feel that a lot of the late game collapses are solely on his shoulders for not adjusting the correct personal into the game or just failing to realize how to stop the collapse by altering his strategy. But at the same time I know coach was ill prepared for this season. No off-season, new offense, new roster of players, no experience with any of these players plus no practice to get your over all blueprint strategy perfected before starting the season so that he could adjust it as the season went on. Ya, because of the strike this was not his fault. He did the best he could with the compressed completely suicidal schedule, plus with the injuries and roster changes, I mean the deck was stacked against him. Other teams had the same rosters, same coaches, and had experience together more than us. Coach must come into this season that this last season was a trial run. We made it to the second round, yes success. We lost to the Thunder which was clearly the more focused and hungrier team but with an empty gas tank he gave it the best effort. Coach knew that this season will be viewed as a rough draft for next season. He comes back next season, corrects his mistakes, motivates his players better, establishes better leadership and strategy in late game situations and hopefully we will be in the finals next year.
In conclusion, we are clearly one of the top 5 teams in the league this year. Overall, I say we are one of the top 3. We just need to correct a few personal issues, our attitudes, and our ability to play together and I think we are back in this thing deep next year. I just hope the coaching staff and the Lakers front office personal do enough this offseason to correct our mistakes. I am not proposing nothing drastic, just enough to smooth out the rough edges. If we can then we might just see this happen again.