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Lakers prop bets

April 18, 2009 | 11:58 am

With the entire world unable to wrap its heads around a scenario where the "no excuses" Lakers fail to reach the finals (much less crush Utah), the Western Conference playoffs could be a double edged sword for Lakers fan.  On one hand, if the Lakers truly are that much better than the field, more power to them.  But if you're craving intrigue or uncertainty, three rounds of lopsided contests before Kobe and LeBron Kobe Drive meet could be anti-climatic.  Thus, I'm proposing a few Laker-centric prop bets to keep everyone interested.  And I imagine if you look hard enough, a sports book in Vegas, Atlantic City or somewhere is actually taking action on these exact wagers.  They'll put just about anything on a betting slip.

Heard most often while trying to draw a foul: Kobe Bryant's "Ayyyyy," Lamar Odom's "Ohhhhh," or Pau Gasol's "Ahhhhh" (followed by the inevitable "check for blood").
Quite the pickle, since all three LOVE their respective SFX.  Gasol ain't scurred to unleash a bellow for the ref's benefit, meaning plenty of "ahhhh" awaits.  But he's also fond of hollering "And one!" in lieu of a one syllable exclamation.  Perfectly reasonable approach, but it dulls his sheen as a betting option. 

Similarly, Kobe loves him a good "ohhhhhhh" to alert the likes of Dick Bavetta, but sometimes lets body language- wild gesticulation, icy stares and an emphatic punch in the air- do the talking for him.  Sometimes such physicality results in reaching his endgame.  Sometimes it leads to getting T'd.  Either way, it dillutes Kobe's powers here.   

But then there's LO.  For all the complaints about Lamar's inconsistency, when it comes to noise bellowed upon taking it to the hole, dude is a metronome wrapped inside a Swiss watch wrapped inside Charlie Watts.  His only weakness could be a J falling pretty steadily of late.  If Odom's feeling it from mid-range and beyond, that might equal fewer drives and subsequent yells.   But otherwise, I'd say the smart money is on lucky #7.

Gasol: 9-1
Bryant: 7-2
Odom: 5-2

The B-List Laker most likely to see an increase in his limelight

The way I see it, two* Lakers posses the best combo of relative low profile and high potential for dap grabbing chances: Trevor Ariza and Shannon Brown. 

In Ariza, you've got a super-athletic, dynamic player who brings it on both ends, grew up/attended college Ariza in his team's city, has struggled to find an NBA "home," and will likely shadow a variety of tough perimeter scorers.  That's a pretty good "star is born" formula.  Plus, he's likely to get more PT than the newbie and less experienced Brown off the pine.   More PT equals bigger showcase.

Shannon Brown's backstory, however, may have TA's beat.  He's less known and has bounced around even more, making any rise feel all the more meteoric.  The cat is often a Youtube clip waiting to happen, so a lack of 'zazz isn't a concern.  He's also more energetic with the media than Ariza, which certainly helps when it comes to shaping... I mean, discovering a story.  Plus, his plot line being written as we speak.  Originally regarded as a Radmanovic-Morrison swap throw-in, he's since proceeded not only steal minutes from a reasonably well known Jordan Farmar, but was actually selected ONE PICK ahead of Farmar in the 2006 draft!

As Ralph Lawler would say, oh mi, oh my!

That both are playing for contracts make this an even tougher call.  Thus, I'll handle this like Vegas would.  It's a good ol' fashioned pick 'em.

*- I can't quite get a bead on Sasha Vujacic's Q-Rating.  He seems reasonably high profile, but I also live in Laker country, where Tierre Brown and Shea Seals become instant men about town.  Sasha's also a frequent Bill Simmons target, whose massive readership could equal a raised profile.  But Simmons' NBA pieces are typically the sports equivalent of Moby Dick, so I wonder if fans with a passing NBA interest would bother reading them.  Thus, I'm asking you folks, particularly those east of Arizona.  Does the name "Vujacic" typically ring a bell in Wisconsin or New York?  If yes, he's ineligible.  But if Sasha's mention triggers quizzical reactions, then Sasha's not only in, but could leapfrog his teammates.  Between the hair/"boy band" look, nickname, annoying defensive style and occasional histrionics, Sasha could be a few timely three balls away from a nationwide rush of eyeballs.

Adam Morrison treys canned

Since joining the Lakers, Morrison has connected from downtown once- Eat it, Phoenix!- and hucked four in all from distance.  Not a huge tally, but he's also only taken a dozen shots in purple and gold.  Thus, if a trio of Ammo shots are worth a trio, that paces him behind just Vujacic and Derek FIsher when it comes to pure "behind the arc" volume.  If he gets the chance, he'll likely put up a few long ones.  But as the season's final game demonstrated, Morrison is putting the "12" in "12th man."  Any run will mostly consist of sitting the first 45 minutes/playing cold for the final three.  Hard to establish much rhythm, and as a 33% clip from the field indicates, flow may be required.

Over/under: 2

Number of games DJ Mbenga will be activated
Ever since Andrew Bynum was given a clean bill of health, it's been nothing but fashionable street clothes for DJ during games, a trend that I don't picture ending against Utah (unless Farmar can't play through a recent foot ailment and DJ fills his roster spot).  Maybe next rounds as well.  But what if the Rockets take down the Blazers and Phil Jackson loads up on size for Yao?  Ditto the Spurs.  If they reach the WCF, that likely means Tim Duncan is healthy-ish enough, and you can never have enough bodies to throw at that guy.  Thus, before placing your bet, envision the Laker draw each round.

On a related note, while certainly providing a fun, touching moment for DJ, them "Banging with Mbenga" T-Shirts may not end up the greatest of long term investments. 

Over/Under: Six

Total amount of headbands donned by Sasha Vujacic

Denver_debut If the rules for's "Headband Watch" mean anything (and I hope they do, because without rules, we'd have anarchy), a different headband will grace Sasha's flowing locks each game until he "finds the perfect one."  In theory, formulating a number could be as simple as figuring how many games the Lakers will need to reach the Finals, and there you have it. 

But you must take note of the "perfect one" caveat.  If Sasha happens to blow up for 23 and a quintet of triples while blazing a pencil-thin yellow band, I'm guessing that's the one he decides is "perfect."  If a potential Laker opponent is particularly vulnerable defending the three, variety could cease to become the spice of Sasha's life.

Over/under: 17

Number of times Sasha Vujacic is credited with coining the "Machine" nickname

Unfortunately, without specific knowledge of how many Laker games Doug Collins will call, this bet had to be taken off the board, 

(All joking aside, it's amazing to me how long this slice of misinformation has managed to linger uncorrected among certain members of the national media.  Seriously, folks.  This isn't exactly the equivalent of busting open Watergate.  Let's get our stuff together, shall we?)

Number of times it's mentioned that Kobe is trying to win his first title without Shaquille O'Neal.

Well, let's see.  If the ride to the Finals is even remotely as easy as predicted, that means fewer opportunities to mention Kobe's quest.  Let's play this conservative.  Let's say the Lakers win two series in five games and one in six.  That's sixteen games.  Sixty-four quarters.  The time Kobe spends sitting during games.  Do a little math... Carry the one...

Over/under: 470,983

Feel free to propose a few of your own as well.


Photo: Sasha in headband.  Credit:
Armaan Kochhar/