Comprehensive thoughts on the Laker's season thus far

Everyone likes bullet points, right?

- The home loss to Dallas was pretty bad, but aside from that the Lakers have started out very well. Their schedule has been easy, and they haven't been exactly toying with the opposition, but they have gotten the W's. That's all that will count past December.

- Kobe is my MVP right now, and I can confidently say that he should be yours too, even if you're a Celtics fan. For a while it was Melo, but now that Denver is no longer perfect, Kobe's superior numbers given his situation give him the edge. He's carried the Lakers, coasting along the top of the WC in Pau Gasol's absence. Some quick numbers on Kobe: 48% FG despite 23% 3pt, 83% ft, 6.3 rpg, 2.8 apg, 2.8 spg, 33.4 ppg. For comparison, Carmelo: 45% FG, 81% ft, 6.3 rpg, 3.0 apg, 1.7 spg, 31.4ppg.

- The evolution of Kobe's game is a pleasure to watch and from what I read, eerily similar to MJ (what else is new?)

- Ron Artest is nothing but good for this team from what he's demonstrated so far. His facilitating skills are incredible and his toughness and attitude can be felt throughout the team even though he hasn't become an alpha dog yet. Part of Kobe's excellence so far I think can be attributed to having Ron on the court. Kobe's offensive explosion as well as his steal numbers (currently 2nd in the league) are indicators. I was surprised to see that Artest is not leading the Lakers in assists (he's second to Lamar (4.7) with 4.2).

- #37 also passed a very subtle, yet important early season test in the Rockets game. It was a heated game and Ron was the center of attention. He was getting booed by the crowd and you could tell by his mannerisms that he was really trying to get at Ariza. Ron even picked up a technical arguing a call. However, did Ron ever lose his head? No. On other teams he might have, but when things got fiesty Kobe went over to Ron and gave him a few words. In the end, Ron posted one of his best games on the season, made a huge clutch shot, and helped the Lakers earn a tough road win against a good team. Does this outline the rest of Artest's career as a Laker? Of course not, but it does give some indication that even when tempers flare Ron should be able to play controlled and effectively.

- By the way, what was up with the Rockets booing Ron? From what I understood, he didn't really bail out on their team. The Rockets didn't want to give him a deal longer than one year. Rockets fans are quick to forget what he did for their franchise. Did Tmac or Yao ever get them out of the first round? No, but Ron did the first year he was there. He also led them in a competitive and tough series against the Lakers last year, which helped the team blossom into what they are today. Pretty lame showing from Houston.

- People jumped on the bench prematurely when they started the season with a few bad games. This is really the first time that the team has had to play without Gasol in a long time (that makes a big difference compared to Andrew Bynum...there's more to it than just Lamar coming off the bench). Phil has worked rotations though and the bench seems to get more and more comfortable game by game. However, I will not give the bench a pass until they show that they can contribute on a tough road trip.

- On that note -- I don't watch many other teams regularly, but Luke Walton has got to be one of the biggest night/day players when it comes to playing at home and playing on the road.

- I maintain my standpoint that Shannon Brown should be our backup PG and that Farmar should be traded (preferably Sasha, if possible). Brown fits the system very well and when the team is healthy we won't need him to be a big time dribble penetration playmaker, even with the second unit. We'll have LO and either Pau or Bynum to run things out of the post. Brown's 3-ball is as good if not better than Farmar's and he is a better defender as well. I think Brown has a better future on this team as well because he seems to fit in much better with the starters than Farmar does. Plus how awesome is it when your point guard throws it down on a regular basis?

-Mbenga filling it at starting center has been great. He's outplayed everyone's expectations, including mine. His rebounding and commitment to protecting the rim has shed some light on the holes in Andrew Bynum's game. The Lakers have actually been better since AB went to the DNP list. The only thing I wish for in regards to this team is for Andrew Bynum to take more pride in his defense and his rebounding. I want him to get mad and passionate like Perkins, Garnett, and even Gasol (we've seen Gasol make some big blocks and get downright animal). It's nice that Andrew Bynum wants to make the all-star team, but it's clear that he is very very concentrated on his scoring and that is flat out the least important aspect of his game when it comes to this team winning a championship. This kind of defensive mentality will be critical against a team like the Celtics who have a very good and deep front court.

- That said, I think if Bynum can improve his defensive game, he could very well be inserted into the closing unit instead of LO. I think the addition of Artest over Ariza allows for this (better spacing, better playmaking on the wing).

- Am I the only one that is not at all surprised by Josh Powell's play? He's still a subpar defender, rebounder, and finisher with a very smooth jumpshot and decent hands. He's hit the three ball before. I like having him come of the bench, but him being buried behind a healthy Laker frontcourt isn't going to be a bad thing either.

That's it for any of your own thoughts or whether you agree/disagree with any of mine.