About that depth chart
The Lakers will kick off the season Monday with a GM under fire (though perhaps more than he deserves?), a star player (more powerful than Arte Moreno!) who seems to reside in various states of gruntle, dis or otherwise, a No. 2 who most believe is best suited to be a Swiss Army No. 3 ... and not much else, at least according to Tony Mejia of CBS Sportsline.com.
It's reasonable to take the sort of positional rankings Mejia does with a grain of salt. You can always argue about where a guy might fit onto a list, and no question that a team is often more than the sum of its parts (see first half, '06-07). Certain players fill certain roles that can help a team thrive, their relative talents vs. the rest of the league notwithstanding. But there's no arguing that, despite an improvement at point guard, the Lakers are still a top-heavy and talent-thin bunch relative to other NBA teams with dreams of big things.
Click below for the rankings, and where the Lakers fit in.
Here's the disclaimer from Mejia, so you understand where he's coming from:
"Players are ranked in the order of their projected impact on the coming season. Upside is taken into account, but only for the next 12 months. Whether you're a bargain or a bad contract doesn't matter."
Let's start with the no-brainer:
Shooting guard: Kobe Bryant, No. 1.
Point guard: Derek Fisher, honorable mention. I'm among those who is happy to see Fish back, but it's hard to say that if you went team to team around the league that you'd take him over most of the other options. He'll have an impact, for sure, and has obvious meaning to a team like the Lakers, but he's not in the neighborhood of a top-tier NBA PG.
Small forward: Luke Walton, Vlad Radmanovic, honorable mention: Can't say this is a surprise, either. Like Fish, Walton has value that is particular to the Lakers, but we're not talking about an elite small forward here. On a better team, he's a rotation guy. First or second off the bench, making valuable contributions. As for Vlad Rad, "honorable mention" would be an improvement on his performance from last season, so if he can hit those heights, it'll make a difference (seriously, any contribution from the guy likely improves the Lakers, simply because they received nothing from him last year).
Power forward: Lamar Odom, 10, Brian Cook, honorable mention. L.O.'s a warrior, and we all know what he can do. It's just a question of health and consistency. It seems like every sentence about him begins with "if." But odds are he'll start the season in L.A., so he's our "if," right?
Center: Andrew Bynum, Kwame Brown, Chris Mihm, honorable mention. So if you put three guys together in the H.M. category, that makes one top 10 center, right? Bynum is still all potential, Kwame is still all one dimensional (defense -- an important dimension, for sure), Mihm is still all question marks. This is a position that could turn into a strength for the Lakers, but it could also be a hole. It'll help, too, if Brown and Mihm can successfully contribute some minutes at the four.