Monday, 4 November 2013



Laker Nation is looking a little more populated than people first thought hey? And to think they tried to cover up those banners like it was just what the Doc Rivers ordered. OK, sure so the Lakers chances of raising another piece of made material to the rafters to cover those Clipper "selfies" are looking as vulnerable as Kobe Bryant's Achilles but that doesn't mean the rest of the Lakers are going to heel to the rest of the league, like they think Kobe is going to heed ESPN's latest quote on quote "ranking". Kobe Bryant is still one of the best players in the league, despite the greats of LeBron James and Kevin Durant and his team is still a great one despite the losses of the likes of Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace. When Kobe returns it's going to look so much better for the Californian forecasts, but this winter won't see his L.A. stars go cold into the Hollywood night. There's more options in this locker-room, then there is in the Sunday white and new black addition to the purple and gold tradition kit room with sleeves. Time to roll them up and get to work. The NBA may not be rolling out the red carpet for these guys, but they are ready to prove that the floor in downtown L.A. is furnished with purple and gold. Now who's doing the heavy lifting?

Of course there's still the core. One that's a hot-bed of some of the best physical and mental talent of the NBA. Sure Steve Nash may be getting old, but the man born into the Canadian cold is still hot, running through the veins like maple syrup on sizzling but crisp bacon. He can still shoot and scoop a lay-up, but it's his pass first, 20/20 court vision is second only to the man behind the goggles, Magic of Earvin Johnson in the all-time ranks of not only Laker, but NBA history...and yes he's still got it too. The only man able to lead and keep the play by plays of Mike D'Antoni in dry erase order before that thing is snapped over legs in frustration. In the post Nash may not find Bynum or Howard...or even a test failed Odom, but the reignited gasoline of Pau Gasol is proving he can do it all...on his own. And to think they called him soft. Gasol is showing he's tougher than the rest, dunking and duking it out on the boards to point and rebound numbers that hark back to his championship trade certified ones or the youthful exuberance of his Rookie Of The Year debut in Memphis. Just like his Grizzlie brother Marc (who he was traded for, Marc was once part of the Lakers, albeit just being on their books), Pau is proving that there isn't much between the Gasol name when you talk about best big men in the league and all time legendary Spaniards. It's going to be a bull fight in the West this year, but Pau is taking it all by the horns.

The Lakers can't just rely on ageing and injured stars however. This is the year where they prove they are more of a team and contender than people first thought. Like their fellow storied and Garnett, Pierce and Terry, Brooklyn depleted Boston Celtic team, they are going to surprise a lot of people this year. Sure we probably won't see another classic purple and gold, versus Celtic green final but this will all make for some interesting match-ups that's for sure. This is how much the underrated Lakers can spread the floor. From the size and strength of one of the last, true centers Chris Kaman (hey, after the Clippers took most of our players and floor and ceiling space it was only right we picked up one of our foes former) to the returning championship point proven certification of Los Angeles' son Jordan Farmar. This team is Steve Blake to Jordan Hill deep and from streaking threes to energy plays on the right night this team has the right ingredients off the bench for a microwave ready meal of second unit sustenance. The second-year option of Jodie Meeks helps this team run and shoot it's way to a new youthful look of raw speed and flair...and people just thought he looked like a smaller Kobe or taller Gary Payton on the floor. Take a closer look with those nose bleed binoculars.  He's much more than those appearances. Just check his coast-to-coast bump and finish against the rival, derby Clippers to open the season, to see how well he lays it down and lays it in.

Run a play for the rest of the tribe called bench (oh, I'm sorry Clips, can we not take things too?), to see how much this team are igniting the showtime of Lob City (oops) back to the "other" (cough, yeah right, cough) side of STAPLES. The Clippers may be great, but good news for the Lakers comes in the threes of Wesley Johnson or the promising potential of preseason perfecter Elias Harris. Also glue guys like Robert Sacre follow in the bench to court enthusiasm dunk steps of a Madsen or Turiaf, while Shawne Willaims can fill out the starting frontcourt quite nicely. Evan Ryan Kelly looks and feels like a Radmonovic clone (just don't go skiing this fall). Still, among all this talent, it's two guys that are standing out from the rest and we aren't talking about the white hype of Gasol and Nash. From nothing, number zero Nick Young has got a point to prove behind Nash and Jordan too, showing has great looking game is more than his amazing sneakers. It's what he does in them, quickly and efficiently that counts. A favorite of the mentoring Bryant, this may be Kobe's city but right now it's Young's town like a Springsteen song. If that wasn't boss enough for you than how about professor X? The X-man of Xavier Henry really is something to marvel at in this Avenger season, with Meeks, Johnson and Young he really forms a fantastic four off the bench for this Laker family with his breaking dunks, play and stat-sheet numbers by the scores. Sure this team is a lot of pieces away from a championship jigsaw picture, but when the biggest piece fits back into the mix the game may well and truly be over. This is a young team for the ages, only a seasoned veteran of Kobe's caliber could possibly piece this all together for right now...albeit whenever it will be that he returns. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

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