Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Two games, and two losses into the season, what do you think about your L.A. Lakers?
Steve Aschburner: I hate to feed the conspiracy buffs, but I think the Lakers are positioned to get well – not just for this season but for a while – via the acquisition of a certain all-NBA center from central Florida. Of course if Dwight Howard wanted his move out of Orlando to be about basketball and winning, he might want to think twice about a May-December bromance with Kobe Bryant. But I think Howard wants L.A. for off-court reasons and, when it does come to hoops, can safely assume that the Lakers’ history of drawing/procuring top talent will continue.
Fran Blinebury: Not that I was collecting ring sizes for a team with many holes and flaws. But “my” Lakers would have Andrew Bynum in the middle. So I think I’ll hold off from laying on the panic button until he returns to the lineup.
Scott Howard-Cooper: I think they just traded away the Sixth Man of the Year without getting a player in return, they are missing Andrew Bynum, they have a new system, and the best player is dealing with a wrist injury that effects his shooting and dribbling. There is no great mystery or analysis here. The Lakers were looking at the real possibility of a step back from last season, although perhaps a slight step back, and then circumstances compounded the predicament. The 0-2 start was not a crisis or a signal to brush up on lottery rules. If Derrick Rose doesn’t hit a tough shot Sunday, the world looks a lot different.
Shaun Powell: As a playoff contender, they’re fine. As a championship contender, they’re finished. Felt that way even had they kept Lamar Odom, if only because of how weak they went out last spring. The immediate goal — well, the only goal — is to find Kobe Bryant some help to give him a chance to win at another ring before his knees give up. Whether that happens this spring at the trade deadline or next summer during free agency is up to Orlando.
John Schuhmann: Oh, so they’re my Lakers now. I suppose if they were 3-0, they’d be your Lakers. Either way, I think they’re missing Andrew Bynum, who’s even more important to their defense now that Lamar Odom is gone. Offensively, I’m a little disturbed by Kobe Bryant’s high usage rate (percent of the team’s possessions used while he’s on the floor). He led the league with a usage rate of 32.4 percent last year, and I thought that number had to go down for the Lakers to be a stronger team from top to bottom. But through three games, he’s leading the league again at 36.7 percent. And in the two losses, the offense was a worse problem than the defense.
Sekou Smith: I don’t worry about the Lakers after two games, not even with all of the drama they’ve dealt with in recent weeks. They’re still the Lakers and as I’ve said before, so long as Kobe Bryant has breath in his body the Lakers will be a factor. Give Mike Brown a little time to get things together and then we can revisit this topic again around All-Star Weekend.