2009/10 Review:

The Los Angeles Lakers had only one goal last season and they were able to accomplish the supreme feat of winning back to back NBA Championships. It was an up and down season, but in the end, they wrote their names in the Larry O’Brien trophy once again.

They started the season without Pau Gasol in the first 11 games, but they had an unbelievable easy schedule early on with 17 of the first 21 games being at home! By the time the Lakers went on the road, they had already separated from the rest of the competition with an 18-3 record to show!

Ron Artest struggled to get in the same page offensively, but he made an instant impact on the defensive end. Several players had to play through nagging injuries and Kobe Bryant had injuries in his finger, knee and ankle that forced him to miss some regular season games.

Late on the season, the Lakers “rested” and finished the month of April with a 3-4 record and when the playoffs arrived, they had some problems to regain the best chemistry on the floor. Suddenly, they were 2-2 against the 8th seed Oklahoma City Thunder, but then they won 7 consecutive games in the playoffs.

In the NBA Finals, the Lakers had the guts to show up every time they had their backs against the wall: they won in Boston after losing the home court advantage by losing game 2 and they won games 6 and 7 after trailing in one playoff series for the first time in 2 years!

2009/10 Advanced Stats:

Pace 13th 96.2
Offense 11th 105.8
Defense 4th 100.7
Rebounds 7th +2.13


2010/11 Outlook:

Projected Depth Chart:

PG: Derek Fisher, Steve Blake
SG: Kobe Bryant, Shannon Brown, Sasha Vujacic
SF: Ron Artest, Matt Barnes, Luke Walton, Devin Ebanks
PF: Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Derrick Caracter
C: Andrew Bynum, Theo Ratliff

In my honest opinion, this is the most complete and powerful team that the Lakers has had in the last 20 years and so, there isn’t any other goal than to “Three-peat” going for this season.

Last season the Lakers showed some problems in the Point Guard position because Derek Fisher simply didn’t have the legs to go against the younger and explosive guards and Thunder’s Russell Westbrook exposed such deficiencies in the playoffs. To solve this problem, the Lakers signed Steve Blake, who is a serviceable point guard that can defend and shoot from the outside.

Also, Ron Artest was forced to log major minutes because Luke Walton has struggled through injuries and the Lakers signed SF Matt Barnes in this offseason to provide more depth in this position.

If the rest core of players remains healthy, then the Lakers will simply dominate the Western Conference during the regular season. However, this won’t be easy to achieve because center Andrew Bynum is already injured and he will likely come back only in December if everything goes right.

Despite all the greatness, Kobe Bryant had really a tough season last year, as multiple injuries bothered him all season. During the months of January and February, he shot only 41.2 and 44.5% from the field and if there was any doubt that this Lakers team is much more than just Kobe Bryant, I just need to say that without him the Lakers went 4-1 in January including defeating Portland (on the road), San Antonio and Utah (on the road) by double digit points! Kobe is now 32-years old and he is entering his 15th season as a pro. Nevertheless, he is one of the best players in this league and arguably the most dangerous player down the stretch. He plays as well some great individual defense and certainly he is fired up to against the new powerhouse team that was built in Miami this past offseason.

If Kobe Bryant is arguably the most dangerous player down the stretch, then Pau Gasol is arguably the best Power Forward in the league right now. Gone are the days in which Gasol was labeled as being a soft player and a perennial loser. Gasol averaged a career-high 11.3 rebounds - good enough to make him a top-five rebounder in the league and his 3.4 assists per game mark are amongst the top between the big men. With Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett in decline, with Dirk Nowitzki stacked in Dallas and with Amare Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer going into the Eastern Conference, Pau Gasol is set to dominate the West with some ease!

While Gasol has been dominating and steady consistent as of late, on the other side Andrew Bynum has been consistently…injured! His inability to stay healthy must give Lakers owner Jerry Buss some headaches after committing him to a $57-million contract in 2008 because Bynum has missed 96 games in the last 3 years. When healthy, Bynum is an automatic dominating center due to his size and skills and granted the Los Angeles Lakers will hardly be able to Three-peat without him on floor.

Luckily for them, they have Lamar Odom who’s versatility and durability has helped the team when must needed. Last season Odom averaged 10.8 points, 9.7 rebounds, 0.9 steals and 0.7 blocks in 31.5 minutes per game and his role was between being the 6th player coming off the bench and being the starter at the Power Forward position. He still has some games in which he “disappears” and his presence simply isn’t there, but he is part of the foundation of the team.

When Ron Artest signed with the Lakers in the previous offseason, the word “chemistry” was often used by the national media to mention the potential problems that he could cause. In fact, Artest had some problems to figure out the Triangle Offense, as actually he attempted a career low 9.6 Field Goals per game, while connecting only 41.5% FG. However his defensive presence was a huge upgrade even when compared with Trevor Ariza and curiously his contribution in the playoffs was abnormally indispensable: he gave Kevin Durant huge problems, he hit the end-of-game shot against Phoenix and he was lethal in the pivotal NBA Finals game 7 with his three-point shooting display. Now with one year of Lakers’ pedigree in his belt, we can expect the same hard noised defense from him while on the offensive end he should be more confident.

Derek Fisher is the remaining piece of the starting lineup and he is the leader and captain of this team. However his physical condition is diminished and he has been constantly outplayed by the best young Point Guards of this league. Last season he shot only 38% from the field and dished only 2.5 assists per game. The Lakers badly needed a consistent Point Guard to help Fisher, something that Jordan Farmar couldn’t do when he was in LA and they have found Steve Blake, who is a solid defensive player and during his career he has hit almost 40% behind the arc – that is what the Lakers need for that position.

The Lakers also signed Matt Barnes and Theo Ratliff to solidify their second unit and on the paper this should be a more competitive unit than the last ones the Lakers had.

The NBA Champs are ready to fight for another title and it won’t be easy to dismantle them especially in the Western Conference. Injuries will take a role part during the run because the Lakers (like the Celtics) are a veteran and experienced team, but still with material to dominate the league.