Thursday, 13 October 2011
SCOUTING THE ROSTER-L.A. LAKERS
ANDREW BYNUM: Forget about the knee injury for a second-that's old news-and besides it doesn't tell us how good a player 'Drew really is. The injury prone Bynum might have got knocked down a lot but look at all the times he's got right, back up. Baby Bynum is all grown up and the Lakers son is mature enough in the face of injury adversity. On the floor Bynum is killer like Brandon Flowers. Post trained By Abdul-Jabbar, those baby hooks are a great presence for the Lakers. His dunks, rebounds and paint work decorate the Lakers with yet another primary option on offence and one more thing, championship charm. Now that's a good 'luck'.
THEO RATLIFF: One of the best defensive players and centre's of the 90's Theo Ratliff is definitely an upgrade even though the Lakers miss the entertainment of D.J. like a club on Saturday night minus the wheels of steel. It's the iron man play of Ratliff however that will keep the Lakers defensive armour steel throughout the long season and playoffs. This swat on defense will keep opponents at bay while Bynums off the block. Before the Lakers, the veteran Theo ran with the young 'cats and looked fly and forever young in Charlotte. Now Ratliff's flight plan might have changed but his job description remains the same. Theo looks to bring his trademark hard nosed, high I.Q. defence and strong finishes to help ensure the Lakers become signature champions. Ratliff's contract with the Lake Show was set because his form can almost guarantee the Lakers do this. Theo's names on the dotted line. Now the inks been dry for a year it's time for the trophy to be engraved.
JOE SMITH: This guy is not your average 'Joe Smith'. He is one of the best basketball players of recent decades. Now in his late 30's he's one of the most valuable veterans and bench players you could possibly want for your team riding the pine and still able to give you primetime in the NBA. He knows a lot about other teams in the association, because he's played for damn near all of them. More importantly though he knows more than just how to call home where he lays his sneakers. His basketball I.Q. is high and his offensive knowledge is sound to the chorus of crowd cheers. He's no dunce on the other end either, able to 'D' up like a lazy kid's report card. With all these facets this is one guy you really want on your scouting report.
LAMAR ODOM: (Also Small Forward) Things have been getting better and better for Lamar Odom whilst he's been a Laker. Those troubled Clipper days seem so far away right now. Now on the other side of the staple, these days L.O. is an established Laker and a better choice than Shaquille O'Neal right now. Although we miss daddy this Laker child worked out better in the long run after all. This reigning 'Sixth Man of the Year' also definitely deserves an over due All-Star selection. Still however most All-Stars don't have gold medals or Kardashians. Things are looking up for Lamar. Odom doesn't need it all however because he does it all. L.O. Is still versatile his initials should be changed to X and O. On both ends of the floor this centre tall forward (that runs the floor like a guard) brings Magic every night. Providing the Lakers with more tricks up those long sleeves. Speaking of long sleeves Lamar's wing span is so huge, it's more Hollywood sign than the Staples floor. This season nobodies going to pass him by.
DERRICK CARACTER: The Lakers need this guy to rebuild. From his inspirational tweets full of his second-name sake to his bulky, broad play. To make it on a team like this you need a little bit of character. Derrick may be short of a 'h', but he isn't a loss on 'D' ensuring the Lakers don't have an '0' in the middle. Sure Caracter was taken even later in 2010 NBA Draft than fellow sophomore Ebanks (58Th to be exact) but he has still impressed with his rookie play. From filling the holie in the middle when needed to proving he's no donut at the centre position, Derrick came in and glazed the Lakers with sprinkles of his talent. He can score, rebound and reduce opponents statistics while putting up his own numbers. That's one whole game, and this was all seen from just a taster. Now it's time for him to eat more. Now it's time for Caracter to show us the real him.
PAU GASOL: (Also Centre) Pau Gasol is the perfect sidekick to Kobe Bryant. Scottie Pippen to Kobe's Jordan with a little Kukoc. Pau can flip between the forward position and the spot left vacant when Andrew Bynum's on a knees up. Gasol is a heavy scorer, heavy on defense and an all round player. Without Bryant, Gasol is the franchise player, still believe that. It's surprising this dynamo has been asked to step it up in the past because at present he's been all work playing in his native Spain during this lockout. You can tell by that greasy, sweaty mop some would call hair and that psycho killers stare and scream after big plays. Sure Gasol might not look his best sometimes, (doesn't matter though the ladies still love him) but his game is nothing but beautiful. Plus he has stepped it up to boot. Ever since Kevin Garnett bullied him in the losing '08 finals Gasol has showed the strength and competitiveness of the fighting Irish, something Beantown didn't want to see this year. This former Jackson dubbed 'grasshoper' has turned into a Spanish bull fighter. Jiminy Crickets! Once you see Gasol working those Olive Oil flapping arms in the post it's hard not to slip up. The green team better have eaten their spinach this year.
DEVIN EBANKS: Sure it's been said before. They look the same, play the same and even wear the same number but still as much as he helps the Lakers ease the loss of Trevor Ariza, Devin Ebanks is very much his own man. The Lakers normally never get the better draft picks but the Lakers hit the lottery when Ebanks number came up at 43 in the class of '10. Sure this is a ludicrously wrong placing for a player so fundamentally right but the rest of the leagues loss is the Lakers big win. Devin's in excess play is heaven sent. He's the ticket. He plays the passing lanes and is a steal in more ways then one. He can score, D and finish like Bruce Springsteen, tougher than the rest. Most importantly Ebanks doesn't just look like Ariza he also didn't look like a rookie last season. Now as a sophomore except much more.
METTA WORLD PEACE: Champagne sure tastes better than some fans beer. Ron Artest has come a long way since his darkest day and now in his brightest moments he shines as Metta World Peace. As for Metta...or Ron's past, it's a wrap. This champion is the Lakers wild card that cut the cheese instead of the deck. He's the one that made fans forget about Ariza before Ebanks. He forms Q.B.'s finest with Lamar Odom (Nas is proud) and as for his relationship with Kobe, they got in each others face in the 2010 playoffs again like the Rocket days, but this time they almost needed to get a room. All joking aside World Peace is serious now. Serious about getting better, serious about mental health and serious about winning. Number 37 made the Lakers diamond in a 'thriller' finals in 2010 and this season number 15 is going back to the basics, thinner, stronger and even more focused after a Dallas setback prevented him from putting another championship ring on ebay this year. Still you can bet Metta's in the right frame of mind. Peace.
MATT BARNES: From one top bracket defensive talent with a history of trouble both off the court and with Kobe to another. Matt Barnes signing last year gives the Lakers the perfect defensive supplement for Ron or Kobe off the bench. Barnes versatile talents may mean that even though he's coming off the bench he could still play starters minutes and be in the game at crucial moments. Ladies and gentleman, your looking at the defensive Robert Horry. When Barnes is on the floor at the same time as his dog Ron and the doberman the three give the Lakers the best perimeter defense trio in the league. Three lines of defence that even the army of LeBron and Dwyane would find hard to breach. Barnes may have some problems but he takes some offence too. Barnes isn't an upgrade from a player the Lakers have lost. There's no one like Barnes, this move is all asset adding another dimension to a team that stands out so much. There 3D, even without the three-peat.
LUKE WALTON: It's time for Staples Centre fans to start screaming 'Luuuke' again. Luke may have been battling back and all sorts of injuries but it's now time for him suit up on the floor instead of the bench and put those coaching aspirations on chill. Luke along with Kobe is one of the only surviving Lakers from the team that had Shaq on and since then Luke has been an important part of the teams fuel economy since the diesel left. Don't pass this assist man up because he's an asset to the Lakers with his all round play, competitiveness and heart. Luke was the perfect replacement for Rick Fox and provided he's healthy and in purple and gold, just like Rick, Luke will always be ready to go when the show need him. Like father Bill, like son however the injury prone Walton will look to make the most of his time. Unlike his dad however here's hoping this time isn't limited. Sure he'll make a great coach...but just one day, not yet.
KOBE BRYANT: MVP, Champion, Gold medalist, best since Mike, team player. What else has Kobe got to prove? Nothing. Still however in terms of championship promise if it's not reigning champs Dallas, critics are looking towards LeBron's big three in Miami, featuring Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. This may be too much too handle but hey Bird, Magic, Hakeem, Shaq, Ewing and more couldn't stop Jordan and just like M.J., Kobe today has an unmatched killer instinct and desire to win. Plus he's got his own bunch of 'superfriends'. Critics are making LeBron the villain and their doing this so much that their forgetting that Kobe's the hero. Just wait, there will be more times this season where Kobe pops the Lakers logo on his jersey than bites it. As quick as a flash Kobe can still take the throne no matter how much voltron is formed. Ignore him now but when you see 24 come at you, three isn't going to be enough, even if it's coming from Dirk.
SHANNON BROWN: Plain and simple Shannon Brown is showtime. This offseason may have be more of a case of 'who'? then WOW however! Still however if the Lakers lock this free-agent back up Brown will bring back his underrated D, his strength and his sparkplug plays and dunks. Shannon may like to dunk but he's not a one trick pony, there's a lot more magic and horsepower to S.B.'s all round game. Plus just like former Laker Sasha Vujacic, Shannon announced his engagement to a big star (R&B singer Monica). Now also just like Vujacic, Brown laced with two rings could be ready to show all that glitters is gold, Laker championship gold. That's if he doesn't leave the assemble of the Lakers like 'the machine'.
DEREK FISHER: What more can be said about the Fish that's saved L.A. time and playoff time again? After some unnecessarily lengthy contract negotiations last offseason the Lakers reeled Fisher back in, to their advantage, not Miami's. Now the president of the Player's Association is making his own negotiations with the NBA to cast a line out to get this locked out season back. This big-time 'players player' is the key to all the success in the National Basketball Association. Derek's a rookie child of '96 coming up with Kobe and in some ways since that time he's been just as important as Kobe to the franchise. He may be old but name a guard that's strength and conditioning is on point as Derek's. Need a charge, a key bucket, free throw or clutch three? There's one Fish that you can always count on down the line. Hero doesn't even begin to describe. How about taking the first two letters of that word and adding some 'art'. This Fish is about to save the NBA and keep it beating again.
STEVE BLAKE: Laker fans may have been disappointed with the loss of Los Angeles' own Jordan Farmar but Steve Blake is more than a worthy replacement. Blake, a former Portland and Clipper favourite knows Staples, the Lakers and most importantly how to compete. Steve's hard nosed play, three point shooting and D is a clean cut as his shaved head. Blake is one of those guards that is terribly underrated when starting (think Luke Ridnour), but when he acts as backup he's one of the best in the L. With a deep season, an ageing Fish and a lot of bait amongst the competition the Lakers will need all the help they can get off the bench. Fortunately for them, Blakes got their back. TIM DAVID HARVEY.