Tuesday , Feb , 26 , 2008 C.Y. Ellis

Five Reasons the L.A. Lakers Will Win the West

Five Reasons the L.A. Lakers Will Win the West

When the Lakers pulled off a trade in which they sent the Memphis Grizzlies a cup of coffee, a ball of twine and a panda bear (Kwame Brown has “hands like feet”), Bluntman told me that this was the trade that would put the Lakers over the top. Only having seen a few of Memphis’ games over the last few years and still believing that the return of Andrew Bynum was the key to the Lakers’ season, I told him it was a good trade but not a blockbuster deal (although when you consider the “addition by subtraction” of Kwame Brown, it was a huge net gain).

Last Friday, while we waited at Seamus McCaffrey’s for the Boston Celtics game, he told me he was right about the trade – which I must begrudgingly admit he was – and he gave me five reasons (because, earlier in the season, I gave 5 reasons why the Lakers were horrible) why the Lakers would win the West. He dared me to counter his points. Let’s see how it goes.

1. They have the greatest player on the planet.
I’ll even go a step further. Acquiring Shaquille O’Neal will probably make Kobe Bryant even better if the Suns meet the Lakers in the playoffs. Bryant’s hatred for O’Neal will sustain Kobe in much the same way that Anakin Skywalker’s hatred for Obi-Wan Kenobi kept him alive long enough for the Emperor to save him and turn him into Darth Vader. Darth Kobe, if you will.

2. Andrew Bynum’s return will give the Lakers the biggest front line on the planet.
True, but I don’t see him getting back to full effectiveness in time. It may not matter, though, only making next year much more frightening for Laker-Haters.

The Lakers are deeper, but where is the interior defense going to come from? It’s not coming from Gasol, and there is not a superior post presence without Bynum. The Lakers will have to out-score opponents without a reliance on defense. It’s very possible given the roster, but has not proven effective in the playoffs in a long time.

3. They have the greatest coach on the planet.
The thing on this one is that Jackson will never get a fair shake, having always won championships with the greatest players of all time. He hasn’t been able to do much over the last couple of seasons with Bryant, though. I suppose, though, that the Bryant-Gasol combo has less star-power than the Jordan-Pippen and Bryant-O’Neal combinations. So, he will have a chance to do a little more coaching than usual during this post-season.

4. Derek Fisher never misses a shot.
I’m not so sure I’d go that far, but he doesn’t really take bad shots and when he’s forced to shoot he is pretty clutch. He’s effective on this team because he cannot be left open, but he cannot create for himself or his teammates. If the opposing team is able to keep the ball in his hands, they’ll be in good shape.

Which leads to …

5. Kobe will be able to play through the pain.
If he’s not able to, this team is sunk. More than the pain, what if it gets worse? His hand will not heal, and if he’s not able to lead the team on offense, nobody else can do it. That’s no different than any other team that would lose its star and leader, but this is a problem waiting to happen.

Funny how the season rests on a pinkie finger.