13 December 2007

Laker Chat . . .

Time to talk Lakers again. They have a modest 3 game win streak at the moment and enter a stretch of 6 games in 9 nights.

The games they have remaining this month coupled with their January games will be critical to whether or not they finish barely making the playoffs or rise to a 4 or 5 seed (chances are they can't overtake Phoenix and win their division, barring a season ending injury to Steve Nash).

Even Kobe likes the Lakers right now, that's good news
"I'm happy to be here," Bryant said. "My guys and I -- we have such a tight bond. Business and basketball sometimes can cloud things, but when you get here in your element and you're around your teammates and just having a good time with them and thinking about them and not about the business of the game, that's when it becomes fun."

Including tonight's game on TNT versus San Antonio, the Lakers have 10 games left this month, and out of those 10 games, 7 of them are being aired nationally, so even if you don't live in SoCal you can watch this exciting and occasionally frustrating team. If they can go 7-3 in that stretch and 10-4 in January they'll be in great shape, but they have many tough games on their schedule, so that won't be easy.

The Lakers aren't just Kobe at the moment, which is one of the reasons why he is less cranky than during the off season. Andrew Bynum looks like he's fulfilling his huge potential and playing very well right now. At times he looks like the 3rd or 4th best center in the league, at other times, he still looks like a 20 year old kid who probably could have used 2 years of college ball. Kareem Abdul Jabbar has been dong a fantastic job coaching him, and it appears that Bynum is doing a better job of listening. Kareem states in every interview that he wants to see Bynum break out the "sky hook" (he does them in practice, but doesn't in games), and if he can shoot that at a high percentage, teams would be forced to double team him, which would free up Odom and Kobe on the wings and would allow the Lakers to become one of the more effecient teams in the league on offense.

Another key to whether or not the Lakers do well over their next 24 games is the recently acquired Trevor Ariza. He's an excellent defender who's going to take some time to work his way into the offense, but in the meantime, he gives the Lakers another great defender at the off guard spot, Kobe is the best defender at his position when he wants to be, and so far this season he has shown the desire to play smothering defense at the end of games, he doesn't play insane defense all game (like he did in the FIBA tourney), but usually he doesn't need to.

The Lakers are long in every position, very young (only Atlanta has a younger team), and can play big or small depending what their opponent throws at them.

They still lack consistency, and even though they have some impressive wins amongst their 12 victories, they also have some inexplicable losses scattered through their defeats. If they find themselves with a 29-15 record by February 1, then they'll be a serious threat to do some damage in the playoffs. There's still a big gap between the top 3 teams in the Western Conference and everyone else (including the Lakers). San Antonio, Denver and Phoenix are still much better than the rest of the West (including Dallas, Houston, Utah, Golden State and New Orleans), but the Lakers killed Phoenix when they faced them earlier, and they match up well with Denver. San Antonio is a big problem for them, one they'll have trouble solving if they meet in the playoffs, but if Bynum continues his growth as a player, Odom stays healthy, and Kobe stays gruntled, the Lakers ought to be able to get out of the first round of the playoffs, and if they have some positive momentum going, they might even be able to beat the Spurs when it matters. If the Lakers can manage to move up their seeding and avoid their annual first round thumping by Phoenix they have a shot at being pretty special when the games really matter.

What I'm really saying is expect another Lakers-Celtics finals come June, that'd be freakin' awesome.

1 comment:

The Drew said...

I'm liking Suns-Celts myself but that's just me.

I do like what the Lakes are putting together though and if they keep the guys together they will continue to get better and better.