In a normal NBA season, we'd already have the trade deadline pass, and our Lakers would probably have their roster all tweaked and ready for the playoffs. Of course being a lockout-shortened season, we still have to wait another 17 days for that deadline to pass. In the meantime, as the Lakers pass the midpoint of their 66-game season, here are a couple thoughts I have on the team. Please note, I understand a lot of points have already been made around multiple blogs and website, including this one, so if you see some things that have been mentioned before, please don't eat my head. I still would like to see Kobe win ring number 6.
According to the stats posted at Brew Hoop (http://www.brewhoop.com/2012/2/26/2824871/nba-power-rankings-2012-heat-thunder-lakers-celtics), these Lakers are actually not as bad as I thought. For having the "worst" 4 through 14 in the league, the only thing that the number 1 team Miami has on us is 3 point shooting and a MUCH higher offensive efficiency. However, when you take a look at the other categories, the Lakers are actually just as good as the favorites for the championship this year. That has to be some kind of positive right?
- It's even better when we realize that we can't be shooting 30.4% from behind the arc for much longer. As has been mentioned by Actuarially Sound and other respected writers of this site, too many Lakers are under their career numbers. Unless your name is Derek Fisher. Then this year is a career high in "foot-on-the-line" three point shots. If things can normalize a little, we might actually see some offensive life from this team.
- Kobe is great beyond superlative adjectives this season. Too many times have I cringed when he's shot...and too many times I have been shocked to see those shots still going down. My brother and I were watching his 81 point game basket-by-basket video, and the shots he was making back then, he's still making today. The man is just having a season that defies all logic. For all the attention Jeremy Lin and LeBron James are getting, Kobe is having just as great a season. Just when we thought Kobe was going to stop being Kobe, he made us rebelieve. I guess that #KobeSystem really works.
Pau Gasol, for all the criticism he is receiving, is actually playing better and better by the game. In the beginning of the season, I was just frustrated with the way he was playing. There was no way he could get any better now, I thought. Turns out I was wrong. WAY wrong. Pau has really turned it around recently, and as much attention as this players-only meeting is getting, I think it is just Pau getting comfortable in his new role. Kudos to the man for finally having his head in the game and having a fine season.
- Drew might be the league's second best center, but in my eyes, he's the key to the Lakers winning a championship this season. I just don't understand why the league doesn't wake up and realize that Andrew Bynum should be the Most Improved Player this year. He is finally having the kind of season that makes Jim Buss proud, and Laker fans go silly. He came back from his suspension on a tear, as if he wanted to do to the league what he did to Barea, except only with his game. Sure, he cooled down a bit, and a major flaw of his came about, but I'm sure he's working on passing out of double teams. If he can effectively do that, and the Lakers can knocked down some threes, this team can really do some damage to the rest of this league. Not a lot of teams can claim having a legit center. Only a few can claim having one of the most skilled forwards to pair with him. And none have a shooting guard who is gunning to be one of the best to ever play the game. This team is dangerous. And June-ready.
- The trade deadline may be nice, but I think the Lakers front office may hold out on that trade exception until the draft. This year's draft figures to be deep, and I won't be surprised if a lottery team drafts a player that makes their starter redundant. If the Lakers can dump Luke Walton or a draft pick for a serviceable point guard, and save their exception for the draft, I think this team can only be parade-dreaming. At least, assuming Kobe holds up.