The Lakers lost out on the Chris Paul sweepstakes due to David Stern’s infamous veto. However, the Lakers are a prime player in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes. As a matter of fact, ESPN’ s Ric Bucher has attributed Kobe’s recent barrage of 40 point games as a recruiting measure to convince Dwight Howard that he hasn’t lost his step. However, some questions remain: What will the Laker’s identity be under Mike Brown? Furthermore, can they compensate for the losses of Shannon Brown to free agency and Lamar Odom via trade?
Shannon Brown provided instant offense and depth in the Laker’s backcourt over the past few years. Considering that he did not see the floor when he was originally under Mike Brown in Cleveland,it probably made his decision to seek refuge elsewhere that much easier. Veteran point guard and NBA union representative Derek Fisher continue to share the backcourt with Kobe. Steve Blake is currently on the shelf for 3-4 weeks with an injury to his ribs. Thus, rookie Darius Morris will have a chance to earn his stripe as a fixture in the Lakers backcourt. As it stands, the Lakers have more questions than answers at the PG position.
The loss of Lamar Odom will be far more difficult for the Lakers to replace. Lamar Odom brought size, versatility and weak-side rebounding and could play both the small and power-forward position. There is some upside to the versatility of Josh Mcroberts. However, Jason Kapono and Troy Murphy certainly will not fill that void.
There is a shortage of World Peace. Metta World Peace, that is. Up to this point, Ron Artest has averaged less than 6 points and 2 rebounds. The former Dancing in the Stars contestant needs a pep talk from Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli.
The major strength of this team continues to be the imposing frontcourt duo of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. Of course, one has to wonder about the morale and the motivation of Andrew Bynum with the ongoing trade rumors concerning Dwight Howard. Dwight Howard is facing those same questions in Orlando. Considering that Andrew Bynum is injury-prone and that Pau Gasol isn’t getting any younger, I would trade Dwight Howard for both Bynum and Gasol. After all, one rarely hears Dwight Howard’s name on the injured list.
Finally, there’s head coach Mike Brown. Mike Brown is a great defensive mind, but is no offensive genius. In Cleveland, he was not able to set up a potent offensive system around Lebron James. To his defense, he was not given much help by Cavs GM Danny Ferry and Cavs owner Dan Gilbert. One can easily have doubts that the Lakers offense will operate with the same efficiency under his tutelage then it did under the Zen-Master.
The common denominator is Kobe Bryant. As long as he continues to play at a high-level and provides the leadership on and off the court, the Lakers will always be considered a contender. There is no question about that.
But there are many questions: The issues at the PG position, the motivation of Bynum, new pieces such as Kapono, Murphy, Mcroberts and new head coach Mike Brown and his effectiveness on the offensive end. I can safely assume he’ll shore up the Lakers D.
Of course, the biggest question is this.
Will Superman land in LA?