Months ago—during the playoffs—I created a Fanpost on Ariza and Odom, and the possibility of their leaving the team. Some remarked that it was unnecessary to create such a post, for it was bad karma, while some said it was way too early to make such comments. However, I simply brought to light a possibility that is one signature away from becoming a harsh reality: the summer in which both Ariza and Odom left the Lakers. With Odom's departure--and little cash to sign a player from a thin market--the Lakers will likely have to look hard at their current roster to find a replacement. But who, if anyone, on this current roster can fill his shoes? Who benefits the most from his departure?
Conventional wisdom might say that Bynum is the one who can gain the most from an Odom departure, for it was Lamar who took away a chunk of Andrew's minutes, especially in the playoffs. But Bynum is still an unproven player in many regards, and asking him to fill in for Odom may be a tall order. Nevertheless, it is not unreasonable for the Lakers and their fans to expect Bynum to take on added duties. After all, expectations and demands of a club and its fans come with the territory of an 80 plus million dollar extension. In spite of Bynum's development, I think the one who can benefit the most is Adam Morrison, who has averaged 20.8 points a game in summer league play. Clearly, I am kidding no one when trying to make a case for a player who has so far been a "bust"in his brief career, nor am I making a strong case by bringing into the equation stats from a mere five games of summer league basketball. However, I don't see anyone else on this current roster stepping in and making us forget Lamar Odom. Unlike many of the current players on our bench, Morrison still has not had ample, if any, opportunity to show what or how he can contribute. It is said that the lingering effects of a knee injury hurt his confidence and playing ability, but he recently stated that his knee has vastly improved, and hopefully so has his confidence. While I am hopeful, it may be wishful thinking to ask a former number one pick who has not lived up to expectations to fill in for a player of Lamar's caliber. But like I stated with Bynum, it is not unreasonable to ask that an NBA player, let alone a former number
one three overall pick, to start living up to expecations.
The responsibility may ultimately fall on Kobe Bryant's shoulders, as he is the greatest competitor in the NBA today and is always looking for another challenge. Besides, with the addition of Ron Artest, and the expectation that he will take on the task of defending the opposition's best perimeter threat, it will, theoritically, allow Bryant to do more on the offensive end. Gasol's numbers may also see a small increase, as he will probably be asked to do more offensively. In the end, every player will have to step up in order to account for Odom's departure. The versatility that he brought to the Lakers is simply unparallel. No individual player will make up for an Odom departure, but with a collective effort the Lakers can and should still be a powerhouse in the NBA. That means that Walton, Farmar, Morrison, Sasha, Brown, and Powell, will have to take their game up a notch. The same goes for every starter. If that happens, I still like their chances. After all, the Lakers still have two of the marquee players in the league in Gasol and Bryant. The addition of Artest, and hopefully with Bynum's development, the Lakers can and should make a strong push for a repeat.