Lakers lack championship roster
Every failed closeout, every missed shot and every Kobe Bryant wince brings an unsettling reminder.
The Lakers' 0-2 record may be only a small sample size of their 66-game season, but it's enough to prove what many already knew before the season even started. The Lakers lack a championship-caliber roster, unless the team's front office suddenly lands Dwight Howard or Deron Williams.
Lakers Coach Mike Brown and his players believe things will settle once they overcome the learning curve in grasping the new offensive and defensive systems. But doing so will ensure only a playoff appearance and possibly a better showing than last season's semifinals sweep to the Dallas Mavericks.
Many might argue that Bryant's torn ligament in his right wrist will heal over the course of the season. They see a turnover-prone performance against Chicago and a poor shooting night against Sacramento as anomalies. But as with his fractured right index finger two seasons ago, it's more likely that this injury will be an ongoing issue this season.
Pau Gasol has handled his flimsy standing with professionalism. But he hasn't shown enough aggression and smart decision-making in the fourth quarter to prove the 2011 playoffs are behind him. He'll surely overcome that soon, but a Gasol-Bryant duo won't be enough as it was in recent seasons to secure a championship.
That's because the Lakers lack another strong supporting role.
As much respect Derek Fisher deserves for his leadership and maximizing his abilities, he looks uncomfortable, slow and inefficient, and there's no reason to think that will change soon. As much as the Lakers' outside shooting might improve, it's too early to know whether it will be reliable or streaky. As much as the role players in Josh McRoberts, Devin Ebanks and Troy Murphy provide, that hardly mitigates Lamar Odom's absence. As well as Metta World Peace played against Sacramento, scoring 19 points, hardly anyone should bank on him duplicating that effort on a consistent basis.
The result: The Lakers have a roster that remains as flimsy as Bryant's wrist. All the hard work and effort in overcoming some of their weaknesses may help the Lakers remain a playoff contender. But unless they land Howard or Williams, it's hardly enough to win a championship. And in Los Angeles, that's the only standard that matters.
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Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant has little supporting cast. Credit: Lisa Blumenfeld / Getty Images