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Are the Lakers better than last season's title team?

Lakerschamps The Lakers don’t play again till the calendar flips over and we step into a new decade, so let’s assess the current Lakers squad with last season’s champs.

At the end of December, 2008, the Lakers were 25-5, 16-1 at home and 9-4 on the road. This season the Lakers are 25-6, and thanks to a lot of time at Staples are 17-3 at home, and 8-3 away. That’s about a wash — but there are a few statistical differences between the two teams.

Last season’s squad — even with Andrew Bynum missing half the season — led the NBA in rebounding (with 43.9 boards per game) in the regular season, and ranked 2nd in assists (23.3), 2nd in steals (8.8) per game, and 3rd in points scored (106.9).

This season? The Lakers are 1st in rebounding (45.5 rpg), 5th in assists (22.8), 5th in steals (8.3), and 6th in points scored (103.9). Overall, last season they outscored their opposition by 7.6 points per game, this season, 6.9.

Add all that up and, again, it’s pretty close.

There is one notable difference — defense.

Remember last season when Phil Jackson appointed Kurt Rambis as the team’s de facto defensive guru to oversee the Lakers’ defensive schemes? Well, the ’08-09 team gave up 99.3 points per game, 13th best in the league. This season, the Lakers are allowing only 97.0 points and have crept up to the 11th spot.

So which Lakers team is better?

I asked an old friend and longtime prep school basketball coach, Steve Galipeau, that question. After a lengthy pause, he answered, "This season’s team because of Ron Artest. He provides more stability on defense."

Artest is the only meaningful change in the team’s roster. And in the last three games Artest has missed, the Lakers have given up 103, 118 and 118 points.

So what happens in 2010?

Instead of consulting my Ouija board, I looked up the odds on the betting site Beted.com about which NBA team will win the title in 2010 (these returns are based on a $100 bet):

Lakers +230

Celtics +275

Cavaliers +400

Magic +650

Nuggets +1,100

Spurs +1,200

Mavericks +1,600.

Happy New Year.

--Barry Stavro

Photo: The Lakers celebrate at the Los Angeles Coliseum after winning the NBA title in June. Photo credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times.

 

 
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HAPPY NEW YEAR LAKERS FAMILY !!!

The Lakes become more fun and interesting when adversity strikes. We will find a way people. Watch and learn. This is a championship year !!!

GOOOOooOOOOOO NEW YEAR !!!!!!!
GOOOooOOOO LAKERS !!!!

Regardless of regular season stats, it's Finals success that measures all Laker teams; so we really can't know which team is better until after the Finals.

Yes, The Lakers are better this year. If you also factor in the rash of injuries the other top tier teams are struggling with, this makes the Lakers even more impressive. This is about as nonbiased a response as you can get because, while I respect the Lakers, the Grizzlies are my favorite team!!

PS - maybe we can grab that 8th seed and see you guys in the first round :)

Who is Barry Stavro?

I don't think they are better at this point due to the fact that one key ingredient is missing (Luke Walton). I know some people will say that Luke doesn't mean much but trust me he does. He provides more stability to the second team than LO does due to the fact that he comes to play every game. He will do the little that matter (assists,rebound,hustle plays) that help your team win games. And the second fact is that the Lakers management has not addressed the terrible bench. If they don't find a combo g/f who can open things up and give Kobe some time to rest and can play defense they will have a hard time repeating. It takes depth and the fortune of staying healthy to repeat in any sport. With all that being said I still love the chances of repeating and bringing another title and making all the haters hate the summertime again with another Lakers banner.

I give the Lakers a B+ for their performance so far this season. As for are the Lakers better this year than last year? Hmmmm... Honestly I think it's too early to tell. Last year we were faster and more fluid. Last year we had beaten Clevland and Boston by around this time.
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This year we are trying to find the right combinations. Incorporating Bynum into the system as a starter has had it bumps in the road. He has shown he is a high quality player (when Gasol was out). Now we are trying to figure out who we are and what works best when both Gasol and Bynum are playing together. Therefore, until they get it figured out, how can we know where we are?
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At this point in time our Team seems clunky. We are surviving on Talent and force of will. Ariza being gone slows us down. Artest has been good and a nice upgrade, but let's not kid ourselves, we are a different team without Ariza and deploying twin towers. Not a worse team by any stretch, just different. Therefore, we are a work in progress.
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I like the power and length we have. But I miss our fast, slashing team. I hate watching us play the fast teams that move the ball well and score easily making us look slow and inept.
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Are we a better team now? Let's change the question. Do we NEED to be better now? Then the answer is NO! We have the rest of the season to work out our system flow, ball movement, defense, passing, and rotation. Therefore, the question is non-sensical. We need to be better in the playoffs. Like Jon K says, what do we play for? RINGS!
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We are built for the playoffs and when the game slows down. Teams like Phoenix never seem to make it in the playoffs due to this reason. We are well positioned for the playoffs where big shots are made, defenses clamp down and drama goes up two notches. By summer, we have a great shot at being a defensive force and improving our passing and spacing. Therefore, we just need to be an elite team and not lose too many games while we develop. As painful as that is...LOL.

Happy New Year, blog family! Let's hope our team parties responsibly tonight. A healthy Lakers team makes for happy Lakers fans. See you on the game chat Friday as we get the ball rolling in 2010.

Potential is better than last year due to Artest (especially on defense) but performance is worse as stated in last post. For championship calibur teams, it's how you fare against other good teams that is the real indicator, not overall record. Otherwise Suns would be 3 time world champions by now.

I think it's syncing issues and getting the old fire back. Lower assists this year may be an indicator of that. All correctable (and that doesn't mean trading for Bynum).

This is a stupid topic.

The team won a championship last year.

The season is about a third through.

Why do you even think of such a comparison?

You do not have anything to write about.

They are not better yet, but they will be by the end of the season. Bynum will be playing better than he is now, through some combination of attitude/focus improvement and PJ figuring out the best combination of Gasol/Bynum/Odom; Sasha, Brown, and Farmar will (as a group) be playing better than they were last season; Artest will be fully integrated/comfortable with the system (he still isn't); and Walton will be back.

The Lakers are better, talentwise. You have to remember that Trevor was around for 2 years learning the system and finally finding his game. He wasn't even worthy of starting over Luke halfway through last season. Trevor wasn't a 3 point shooter until later in the year, dare I say only in the playoffs. When we make the comparison between a Laker team with Trevor, TA's most recent accomplishment as a Laker tends to cast a nice, warm championship glow on his stay here.

Ron, however, is trying to mesh with the team AS A STARTER (sorry, I'd italicize this if I could....I'm not screaming the point, I'm noting it). Trevor had his year or year and 1/2 to acclimate, and play behind Luke, Vlad, and Kobe.

I can elaborate on the point, but considering all this, Ron's Lakers are in first place while trying to find their game.

"We are built for the playoffs and when the game slows down. Teams like Phoenix never seem to make it in the playoffs due to this reason. "
- JohnnyV

Ding, ding, ding, ding! We have a winner. There's a reason Phil has 10 rings and hardly any "Coach of the Year" awards, dudes and dudettes. It's because he always focuses on the playoffs and he gets his GM's to build his teams for the playoffs, not for looking good in the regular season.

Phil's approach is to assemble a team of a few all-stars and a whole lot of "Swiss army knives". That is, he wants a team with maximum situational flexibility. Different guys for handling all sorts of different situations, 5 to 8 minutes at a time.

So those of you who keep yapping that Bynum or Sasha, or Jordan, or Luke sucks, just keep yapping while Phil just keeps adjusting his glasses and smiling. He knows exactly what each of them gives him...and against what team. Sometimes (he sighs as he listens to the faint yapping) you don't need the five sharpest blades, sometimes you only need two, plus a corkscrew, a scissor, and a PHILlips.

And that's why he's probably figuring out where he's going to put that 11th ring right now.

Points per game is not a relevant measure of defense or offense.
For that matter, rebounds per game is not a relevant measure of a team's rebounding ability.

You need to adjust for pace.

The relevant measures would be points per possession (both offensive and defensive) and rebounding rate (which is the percent of available rebounds a team collects).

The reason that you need to adjust for pace is that in a game with more possessions there will be more scoring and rebounding attempts. This will, in turn, inflate all of the per game totals.

Regarding this year's team vs last year's team, a month ago I would have said this years team. Now it looks like last years team was superior.

With that said in my last post, I think its important to consider that while we may be incrementally better, how much better are teams in the West, and how much better are potential Eastern Conference matchups.

As for the West, I don't think any teams are better. I don't think teams can match us on size and depth. However, there are several asymmetric threats, that don't match us for size, but potentially have alot of speed and movement. The Lakers will never be overwhelmed, but Denver and Dallas have the potential to be annoying if we play into their games. Denver is as driven as the Lakers were last year. Dallas has pretty good ball movement and Dirk is quietly having an MVP season.

The Spurs, while I respect what they've done in the decade, aren't quite there yet. Not at this point. I don't think we can make an assessment on how they'll be in the playoffs because they are notorious for taking it easy at this point in the year.

The challenge in assessing the east is that we don't play them often enough. The Celtics, for all the fervor their fanbase displays, aren't the only team to worry about in the East. Cleveland looks much better than last year, now that their game is coalescing. Orlando is the reigning eastern conference champ, and they look better as well.

Are these teams better than the Lakers? I still don't think so, not over a 7 game series, but Cleveland's christmas victory still echoes pretty loudly around here. Refs, lack of intensity, lack of bench production, too much holiday ham, whatever it might be, the Lakers lost that game handily. I hope its a wake up call to them to start getting their game in order and start imposing their will.

Wishing the Lakers Blog family a Happy, Healthy & Properous New Year!!!

We will celebrate another championship in 2010. Life is good!

Stay safe tonight!

Last years team had a better bench, and I worry about how Andrew Bynum perceives his role on this team. Suggest we visit our friends from Memphis once again, and see what they are asking for Zach Randolph.

Happy New Year's Eve everyone!

On my way back to LBK, and had a chance to check the thread. I would have to say that the teams are materially equivalent (at their respective points in the season). That's a pretty fantastic thing, considering the injuries and inconsistency that everyone has noticed here.

I'd like to get a better grasp of their promise once everyone gets healthy.

Be safe tonight if you're partying!


Happy New Year, Blog Bros

A decade just went by? Where was I? Some of us have been rantin' here for half that, proving: virtual friends can have a long shelf life. We've survived the lost years and outdistanced the hosts.

Nice to see some of the ol' crew still around. Mike T will drop a post if we lose a low post shoving match with the Cs in the finals.

Keep the blog burnin', rock 2k10

Best Wishes for the New Year to everyone of THE Lakers Blog. Go Lakers!!!

Simple answer..... NO!!!

Ron Artest is a better player than Trevor Ariza, but he is not a better fit, for the Lakers, the lakers are just as good because of Kobe Bryant brilliance, he has been flawless, if not for him, the lakers migth have 2 or 3 more losses.

JohnnyV,

you wrote: Incorporating Bynum into the system as a starter has had it bumps in the road. He has shown he is a high quality player (when Gasol was out).

my response: What high quality big did Bynum do well against when Gasol was
out?

From the schedule: L vs. Mavs. @home. L vs. Denver away. Beat hou in hou.
loss to hou. at home.

You also wrote this: At this point in time our Team seems clunky. We are surviving on Talent and force of will. Ariza being gone slows us down. Artest has been good and a nice upgrade, but let's not kid ourselves, we are a different team without Ariza and deploying twin towers. Not a worse team by any stretch, just different. Therefore, we are a work in progress.

my response: I mostly agree with this. I don't think we're slower, because
Ariza wasn't starting at the beginning of last year. Luke was. I don't think
Luke is faster than Artest.

CornerJ,

you wrote: Ding, ding, ding, ding! We have a winner. There's a reason Phil has 10 rings and hardly any "Coach of the Year" awards, dudes and dudettes. It's because he always focuses on the playoffs and he gets his GM's to build his teams for the playoffs, not for looking good in the regular season.

my response: umm which team has the best regular season record in the
history of the NBA? That would be the Phil Jackson Chicago Bulls, right?
Can you think of any Phil Jackson team which was less than a 3rd seed and
won in the finals? [ KB Blitz knows the answer, but I don't. ]

To All of You Who are UnHappy about our Lakers,

Might I offer these observations:

1. Gasol missed the first part of the season due to the hamstring injury.
2. Luke has missed a good chunk of the season due to injury. Behind
Kobe & D-Fish, Luke knows the offense better than anyone. While he's
certainly not the most athletic Laker, he made great plays during the
playoff run last year. He makes the bench flow smoother.
3. Our defensive coach is now the head coach in Minnesota.
4. Kobe has a fractured *index* finger on his *shooting* hand.
5. We have a starter who has spent *NO* time playing for Phil/Lakers.
6. Our starting C has had a respitory infection and apparently a knee issue.

With those observations, here are some questions about how good we are:

Do you think we would be/play worse or better without our all-star, olympian,
european champion C/PF ?

Do you think our bench would play better or worse without a guy who knows
the offense better than almost anybody on the team?

Do you think our defense would play better or worse without our defensive
coach?

Do you think our offense would flow better or worse with a starter who has
never played with this group of guys and with this coach?

Do you expect a 22-yr old novice to play better or worse without two of his
coaches to hold his hand?

My expectations:

We won't know how good we really are until after the all-star break. Why?

1. The team will have had time to mesh with all *key* players relatively
healthy.

2. Bynum will no longer be thinking about his all-star bid and will actually
do what the coaches tell him to do.

3. Artest will have played with our starters for ~ 4 mos.

4. Luke should be back on the bench and the bench should play better.
i.e. rotations should be worked out.

5. We should have a played a fair number of road games & road games are
a far better measure of how good we are.

6. Kobe's fracture should be healed.

7. Lamar will be back on the bench. He's our 6th man.

Since our schedule has been home loaded up front, I say at this point, last year's squad was better. On the other hand, this year's team has the POTENTIAL of dominating anyone in a playoff series. If Bynum can learn how to play alongside Pau, if we can get someone to shoot consistantly from the outside, and if we can get more consistant play from our bench, then we can be a much better team than last year. I'm still waiting for this team to gel and I sure hope it happens soon.

Are they better than last year? Well, last year at this point they were playing at a higher level (Christmas vs. the Celtics). Last year they were a team on a mission.


This year they are team finding their way (how does Artest fit? How do Drew and Pau play together? Who will contribute off the bench?) What matters is not where they stand now, though, it is where they are come June. I think this team is built better for the playoffs - longer, more physical - than last year's and I think the Western Conference playoffs will be less painful than last year.


Like last year, the Lakers are one of a handful of teams with a legitimate shot at winning it all. Come playoff time, the Lakers are, in my opinion, the slight favorite. Cleveland and Boston are right up there, but Phil and Kobe are both old hands at this who know how to win tight games and how to adjust over the course of a series.


Tom Daniels

lakers won because Kobe allowed others to be involved on the offense and Bynum was replaced by LO on the defense. For the Lakers to repeat this MUST happen again! The media makes a BIG deal if Bynum goes for 20-10 but doesnt take in account how many lay ups he gives up or his out of position so others have to compensate on the defense of end. He is actually like Vladi Ramovich was as a starter-offense but HUGGGGGGGE liabilty on the defense!!!

I think this season's team is just as good, if not a little better, than last season's. I say that because Artest gives us a little more grit and muscle, which I like. I really liked Ariza, and he made a few really key plays for us, but Artest plays on a higher level, on a much more consistent basis.

I notice Odom and Gasol play spectacularly together, but we need to get Bynum and Gasol to play better together. And we need to get Bynum to play more consistently. It seems like he plays well for a while, and then mysteriously drops off. I'm not sure what that's about.

Also, I think there was there a HUGE typo in the article. If I read it correctly, it said Bynum averages 43.9 rebounds per game. If so, why isn't the world celebrating that miraculous feat?

I also like what I'm seeing with Jordan Farmar. He's been aggressive, he seems to be shooting more accuarately, he's hustling, getting steals, still not much defense, but I think he tries hard.

In general, though, I think our biggest problem is defense, especially in the beginning of games. Golden State looked like one of the best teams ever in the first half of that game. Although, they DID beat Boston and Phoenix recently, so they might have been on a little run.

Nevertheless, the Lakers will always be my team. Always have been, always will.

PS-can the Cavs stop getting ALL the calls. Against the Hawks 38 to 15 free throws. Against the Lakers Shaq alone should of fouled out twice!!!

The "experts" say they're better because of Ron Artest.
The defensive numbers say they're better because of Ron Artest.
Kobe says they're happier because of Ron Artest.
Phil says they're more defensive because of Ron Artest.

So, the Lakers *must* be better. Because of Ron Artest.

Right?

12/31/2008/2009

2009 losses: 14, 26, 10, 8, 15, 15.
2008 losses: 11, 1, 12, 2, 3.

2009 road record: 8-3
2008 road record: 9-4

2009 FG%/3PT%: .457/.334
2008 FG%/3PT%: .474/.361

2009 Offensive rating: 107.8
2008 Offensive rating: 112.8

2009 Net PER by position:
PG -6.1
SG +10.7
SF +3.1
PF +1.9
C +5.3

2008 Net PER by position:
PG -3.2
SG +9.7
SF +0.9
PF +1.2
C +6.6

Verdict?

To date, better defense, less efficient offense; positionally better at 2 (SG), 3 (SF) & 4 (PF), slightly worse at 5 (C), MUCH worse at point; 5 of 6 losses by 10+ pts vs 2/5 in 2008.

"Better?" Different, for sure. We'll all know "better" by June.

Sources: basketball-reference.com; 82games.com

This year's Lakers:

Kobe = Better
Pau = Better
Ron = Better (compared to Trevor)
Andrew = About the same (inconsistent)
Derek = About the same (actually a little better, I think)
The Bench Mob = Considerably worse
Defense = Worse inside, better perimeter
The Weirdness = Though it is relatively intense over the last couple weeks, actually a bit better than last year

So, overall, a bit better than last year, but there are some glaring issues that need to be addressed, most importantly the the individual and collective play of The Bench Mob.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

Happy NYE everyone! I just want to say that in spite of all this analysis, it's a GREAT time to be a Lakers fan. We are all truly blessed and privileged to even have the right to call this team ours. We are all bearing witness to one of the all time great seasons from KB24 and I count my lucky stars each and everytime that guy laces 'em up. I think PJ is pacing himself and this team and doing a great jib rolling with the punches. It's too early to compare this team with last season's squad. I think Thriller still needs more time to acclimate and Bynum is still rounding into form. The real litmus test comes this month as the Lakers will be facing top tier team on the road for the first time...ask me this question again at the end of January.

I think we were better last year. I do not like Artest because I think he is trouble for team, and pretty soon he is going to start destroying the solidarity of our team. I think we are lucky that we do not had any injury up to now, (Kobe's fingure! Come on, he is getting 40+ points each game! this is just for us to make things more exciting!) and if we remain lucky and non of our major players get injured we should be able to get to the top two team for the finals. I think with the highest salary cap, but not the best players, our team still need to be improved. Please get rid of Artest before he ruins everything!

Lakers for ever

George,

"can the Cavs stop getting ALL the calls."

Remember, David Stern (aka "the boss of the NBA") came out and publicly stated that "LeBron James would be the Greatest basketball player of all time" which is pure insanity. I'm not saying that LeBron James doesn't have the potential to be a historic player, but WHY would he make such a public statement as the guy responsible for keeping the NBA fair?

The ONLY way possible for LeBron to become the Greatest of all-time would be for him to win a hell of a lot of Championships. Personally, I think that is HIGHLY unlikely... unless the league nudges him forward a bit.

In my opinion, what David Stern has done is pure tampering. He's communicating to the refs OPENLY that as the guy who is responsible for keeping the league fair that LeBron James is more worthy of the benefit of the doubt when it comes to fouls THAN ANY OTHER PLAYER IN THE HISTORY OF BASKETBALL.

Keep in mind. I presently live out here in Ohio. I watch more Cavs games than probably anyone else on this blog. I have noticed that since David Stern's statement, LeBron James has gotten even more calls than he did in the past. I still cannot believe how much this travels--more than any other player I've ever seen--but he very, very, very rarely gets called for it.

Annoying and frustrating.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

BLOG CRUE
Looking forward to another great year. Enjoy the moment, life is beautiful.

Colorado loves our World Champion Lakers!

"2. Bynum will no longer be thinking about his all-star bid and will actually
do what the coaches tell him to do."

Hobbitmage,

Have to disagree with you. Bynum in my opinion will still be thinking about something that only he believes he is (like already a dominant center) and still have lethargic play with a few flashes of good games.

How do I base this? Try 06-07 when after having a very solid 10-10 January his play went down so badly that Phil has to put a man named KWAMAY BROWN back as a starter not to mention KWAMAY was still slow because of his ankle injury.

I think that he thinks he is be All-NBA First Team and All-Defensive First Team. Heck he will believe he's not only is the MVP of the Lakers but also the MVP of the league this year. Why? Because he's Andrew Bynum, he does commercials! (a nod to the Atlanta Hawk announcers when they trashed D-Wade in the playoffs last year).

Kidding aside Bynum still has to prove he can sustain his play in not only a full 82 game season but also in the playoffs as well. I'm looking forward to Jan when past Jan has been his good month. Also looking forward to some really good games production wise from him this month and will be cheering when he does.

Good to have a Mr. Big Mouth Bynum to think about eh Hobbit?

A Note out to Jon K:
With as much energy we have all spent talking about Bynum this month AND with Bynum traditionally having good January's.... may I ask about a Bio-Chrono reading for Bynum for January?
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In truth, I ask not really understanding the term, but I have enjoyed your insights in the past concerning Bio-Chrono. I Googled the term and most of what I found were your posts in this blog! LOL.
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Here is a similar term in Wikipedia:
Chronobiology is a field of science that examines periodic (cyclic) phenomena in living organisms and their adaptation to solar and lunar related rhythms.[1] These cycles are known as biological rhythms. "Chrono" pertains to time and "biology" pertains to the study, or science, of life. The related terms chronomics and chronome have been used in some cases to describe either the molecular mechanisms involved in chronobiological phenomena or the more quantitative aspects of chronobiology, particularly where comparison of cycles between organisms is required.
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GEEEEEZ! Not sure I can grasp that.

dave,
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Damn, logic prevails over perception again. Don’t forget that this year we are also leading the league in opponent field goal and 3-point percentage. Yeah, we really miss Kurt.
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jayden,
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Spot on post, man. The pimple patrol seems to forget that the regular season is for working out those problems so that the team peaks and plays great basketball in the playoffs. In reality, we have played better at this point than last year’s team, which by the way won the NBA championship. Or do the pimple poppers have the gall to claim that we were lucky?
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Thirty2,
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I agree with your point that Bynum making it past the All-Star break is important, even more so than making the All-Star team. One thing fans need to remember is that Bynum has never yet really played an entire season. I think that is part of his problem right now. He is not used to playing so many games. Combine that with limited play in high school and you get a player who although extremely talented is very inexperienced and has in ways hit a wall.
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I think Phil is even watching his minutes. The Lakers want to make sure that Drew lasts the entire season. Fatigue often plays a role in major injuries and that is the last thing that anybody wants to see with Drew. January has been the peak and the pits for Drew. He has played his best basketball that month but also ended with injuries. It should be interesting to see how Drew responds to his current challenge. I agree with you that I think he will come through.
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Ironically, the signs tell me that we probably won’t see the real Beast until next year. I think Drew needs time to regain full confidence in his body because it seems like he does not have the great lift and jumping ability he displayed before the injuries. You see him really jump high once in a while but rarely in heavy traffic. Injuries to his wheels have mentally grounded Drew at this point. Maybe we will get lucky and the Beast will emerge later this year but most of the time it takes over a full year for a player to completely recover from a major knee injury, much less major injuries to both knees.
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#4
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Great point that we have the best record while still trying to put the pieces together. Fans need to remember that is what the regular season is for – figuring out how to win. So far we’ve done well.
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Tom

Seriously, all the Lakers fans here need to stop whining about the refs and LeBron. Does anyone here recall the 2002 Western Conference Finals between the Lakers and the Kings? Doesn't the fact that the Lakers shot 27 free throws in the 4th quarter ALONE (along with Kobe elbowing Bibby and Bibby being called for the foul) suggest that LA's 2002 championship might have been a fraud? What about last year's finals, when Phil Jackson himself basically admitted that the Magic should have won game 2 since Pau Gasol interfered with the basket during the alley hoop to Courtney Lee? Yes, I know that the Lakers won 4-1, but had the Magic won game 2, it would have been tied at one heading into Orlando, which would have resulted in a dramatically different series.

Besides, if you want to complain about officiating, you would have to go back all the way to 1998. Remember when Dick Bavetta waved off Howard Eisley's 3 despite the fact he clearly released the ball with 1 second left on the shot clock (as well as the Bulls' Ron Harper scoring despite the shot clock having expired)? And of course, replays clearly show that Michael Jordan pushed off on Byron Russell before hitting the game winning shot. Had the Jazz won that game, they probably would have gone on to win game 7 and the championship since Scottie Pippen was injured.

Also, I'm sure you remember the infamous 2006 NBA finals between the Mavs and the Heat. During game 5 of the finals in Miami (the series was tied 2-2), Dwayne Wade shot 27 free throws. If a Mav so much as breathed on Dwayne Wade, they called a foul. The Mavs probably should have won that game, which would have sent them back to Dallas for two games up 3-2.

Also, Lakers fans, just know that during your team's three peat, fans across the league were claiming that David Stern and the refs were favoring the Lakers and Kobe. Oh, and the 2002 Western Conference Finals I mentioned above is evidence that such a claim isn't too farfetched.

So please, enough with these comments on how LeBron and the Cavs are somehow benefitting from a great conspiracy. Those who indulge in these conspiracy theories should know that if such conspiracies are true, they have benefitted many other superstars and elite teams before LeBron and the Cavs.

The betting returns are pretty much useless. The Lakers were favored in the 2008 finals, and we all know how that turned out. Hollinger, on espn.com, has the Lakers rated as the 8th best team. We all know that's wrong (I'd say his system needs tweeking). That's Dr. Hollinger - goes to show you that you don't have to be a genius to earn a doctorate. It's hard to say if the Lakers are better than last year. They're more experienced in crunch time which should help. On the other hand, the bench has been unproductive, and Bynum, after the first three weeks of the season, has lacked energy and his production has been disappointing. Pau has played above expectations (especially while negotiating for a new contract, we later learned) - I'd like to see a couple more 20-rebound games so we know the outperformance wasn't contract related and in the past. Sasha played well in his contract year and only in his contract year. Next year will be another contract year - I believe Sasha needs to play well this year and next year for the Lakers to consider keeping him. Otherwise, Sasha plays only well in contract years and can't be trusted and should be cut loose - he's not earning his pay currently. Sasha has been playing more disciplined ball recently, not jacking up every ball he touches, and has shot at a higher percentage recently, although his touches have been few. Farmar, if you exclude a several game productive stretch in the last month or so, which ended a few games ago, has not improved much. He's got hops and quickness, but not size, consistency, reliable shooting or decision making. I think the Lakers did the right think not offering Farmar a contract extension, he's making better decisions because, if he doesn't, it could cost him. Aaron Brooks was taken after him in the same draft. Who'd you rather have? If Bynum can play the type of January ball he has played the last two years, and stay healthy and productive, the Lakers are better, but that's a big if. No one knows how Bynum plays between February and June when healthy. Wilt, Kareem, Shaq, Olajuwan, Ewing, Howard, Stoudemire all played much better that Bynum at his age. A lot of those guys were tough - they'd punch you in the mouth at that age. That Bynum isn't consistent and standout and fiery concerns me about his upside. He didn't play as much as those other guys befoire entering the league and has had injuries, but his inconsistency and lack of intensity concern me that hs potential is limited. I hope I'm wrong. I think the Lakers need to trim Morrison (he hasn't got it) and Sasha from the roster and upgrade via motivated-to-win, talented free agents.

It's a tough call. While the Lakers have improved defensively (6th last year, 3rd this year), they aren't as good offensively (3rd last year, only 14th so far this year). Also, the Lakers haven't done as well in the checkpoint games vs. top competition, though injuries have been a factor. It's not so much that they've lost these games, but many of them haven't been competitive (home or away). I think it's important that they correct this as the season moves along.

Beating bad teams for the best overall record is for positioning and seeding, but how you match-up against the best teams perhaps has more importance. The confidence and mental edge from having done so is crucial IMO. Last year's Cavs team did a slightly better job of taking care of business against weaker opponents, but their record against the Lakers and Magic, plus
their inability to get a road win in Boston, proved to be more telling when the playoffs arrived.

OTOH, the Lakers swept the Cavs, the Celtics, beat the Nuggets 3 of 4. While they did get swept by the Magic, both games were very close. At the same time, the Lakers were fortunate Nelson was injured and rusty during the finals.

Luckily, there's still a decent-sized gap between the Lakers and the rest of the West. Thus I expect the Lakers to reach the NBA Finals, at least. In the meantime, the bench has got to improve, and Bynum has to step up and prove why he was deserving of such a big bump in pay.

Happy 2010!!!

May all of you gain the best from this year, and be prosperous and healthy.

Guess the very same is what I wish to our Lakers.

On the specific matter here addressed, it's fairly easy to say that "IN THEORY" this year team is better, cos we are having a defensive plus in Ron Ron, who's already showing what he's capable of doing for us.

This makes us better, gotta agree with the coach speech underlined in the article.

Given that as pretty shareable, in terms of logical assumption, we will see if this team really will prove itself better by one simple factor: RING.

We can't escape that fate.

In the end, all that counts is the final victory.

The Lakers are the best team on court. But to win we have to get all pieces of the beautiful puzzle together and fitting at the very convenient time.

Players have to be healthy and with no injuries.

That tiny bit of luck that every victory brings along has to be with us.

If these two pieces go straight at their place, then no matter what, even having all of others NBA contestants at their top won't suffice for them to take the victory ou from us.

Cos if we are at our best, none can even hope to catch us, no matter their best outgiven.

But these are all sophisms until the real game starts, and that real game starts by the middle of April.

Not before.

All trying to figure out at this point is surely a nice talk and I am enjoying, but it still very much up in the air.

BTW, have you got to read Pau's chat yesterday?
Awwww :)
He's not worried btw about current struggles.
Nor I am.
Loved his addressing to Kobe and his bro Marc, and the fact that he said having Kobe and Sasha speaking Italian fluently helped him in teachin some spanish in the locker room... cos "languages are very similar". True :)
And I love that he has on his iPod on a repeat Kings of Leon and Coldplay!!!!
*sweet* ;)

Last years team had a better bench, and I worry about how Andrew Bynum perceives his role on this team. Suggest we visit our friends from Memphis once again, and see what they are asking for Zach Randolph.

Posted by: justanothermambafan | December 31, 2009 at 09:30 AM

WHOEVER THE TROLL IS THAT WROTE THIS - GET YOUR OWN FREAKING NAME.

GOOD GRIEF - COME ON HERE AFTER A COUPLE OF DAYS & FIND MY NAME IS BEING MISUSED BY SOME IDIOT WHO WANTS RANDOLPH!!!

WHO ELSE DO YOU WANT???? NATE?????

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD LA TIMES PEOPLE - AREN'T YOU CHECKING EMAIL ADDRESSES & THE LIKE????


Ok - enough of the screaming - it's just completely irritating.....

C U all at the live chat .....

GO LAKERS!!

Nothing but another title will suffice.


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