How Theo Ratliff will fit in with the Lakers
Most people think that 6-foot-10 center Theo Ratliff is an upgrade off the bench from 7-foot DJ Mbenga, who really didn't get much playing time during his tenure with the Lakers. Ratliff has been primarily a defensive stopper in his 15 years in the NBA, even earning All-Star honors in 2001. He averaged more than three blocks a game six times in a seven-year run during the prime of his career. He's No. 18 all-time in blocks and tied for 11th in blocks per game. That's impressive.
Many people agree with Eric Pincus over at HoopsWorld.com that Steve Blake, Matt Barnes and Ratliff are a perfect fit for the Lakers. Blake will give them a steady floor leader off the bench with a penchant for hitting key three-pointers in the fourth quarter. Barnes is a hustle guy who can stay out of the way of the scorers and learn how to flow in the triangle offense.
Which brings us back to Ratliff. He'll back up Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol at center and power forward, which means he has the ability to play alongside both. Just think if Lamar Odom is playing small forward at the time. You could have a front line that goes 7-0, 6-10, 6-10. And very athletic at that.
But one big question remains: How much does Ratliff have left in his 37-year-old body? He hasn't played more than 50 games in a season since 2005-06. Part of it has been injuries and part is moving from team to team each season and coaches taking their time to figure out how to utilize him. Playing with the Lakers is usually a 100-game season, from exhibition play through the postseason. Does he really have enough in the tank to make a difference?
-- Dan Loumena
Photo: Theo Ratliff elevates to swat a shot by Clippers center Chris Kaman in December of 2009. Credit: US Presswire