2009-2010 Los Angeles Lakers Season Preview
By Ryno of Predictem.com
Last Season’s Record: 65-17
Head Coach: Phil Jackson
Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Derek Fisher 6-1
SG: Kobe Bryant 6-6
SF: Ron Artest 6-7
PF: Lamar Odom 6-10
C: Pau Gasol 7-0
Key Reserves: Andrew Bynum 7-0 C, Shannon Brown 6-4 SG, Jordan Farmar 6-2 PG, Sasha Vujacic 6-7 SG, Luke Walton 6-8 SF.
Current 2010 NBA Championship Odds: 2-1.
The Lakers dominated in the regular season, winning 65 games and capturing the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. They advanced to the NBA Finals and defeated the Orlando Magic to win the NBA Championship. It was the second straight year that the Lakers were in the NBA Finals, after losing to the Celtics in 2008. The scary part is that the Lakers may have an even better team this season.
Who’s In/Who’s Out
Trevor Ariza was an important part of the Lakers championship run, but he opted to take the money and go to the Rockets. But the Lakers essentially swapped Ariza with Ron Artest, who was a member of the Rockets last season. Artest is a tough small forward with scoring ability, but most importantly is regarded as one of the best defenders in the league.
It seems like Derek Fisher and Kobe Bryant have been playing together forever. Fisher isn’t the best point guard in the NBA, but he has experience and he plays alongside perhaps the best player in the NBA. Bryant makes the Lakers a championship contender by himself. He is an all-time great and can take over a game at any moment. Off the bench, the Lakers have a few capable guards in Shannon Brown, Jordan Farmar and Sasha Vujacic. Without Bryant, the Lakers would not have a very good backcourt. But with him, they have one of the best.
The presence of Pau Gasol down low makes Bryant a better player. Gasol often commands double teams and he is able to pass well out of the post. Lamar Odom is a versatile forward who can rebound and score inside or he can step out all the way to the 3-point line. Odom can even bring the ball up the court. If Andrew Bynum can stay healthy, the Lakers have an exceptional frontcourt. Bynum has the potential to be one of the best big men in the league, but he hasn’t been able to stay on the court.
There are many strengths of this team, but first of all they are the defending champions. Everyone on this roster other than Artest has won an NBA Championship. The next strength is Kobe. He is a future Hall of Famer and he gives the Lakers a chance to win any game. At the end of the game, everyone knows he’s getting the ball but he can still hit the game-winning shot. If Bynum is healthy, the Lakers have a big frontcourt. They can play Gasol and Bynum, two 7-footers, together and have Odom or Artest at small forward. Kobe and Artest are two of the best perimeter defenders in the league, so they will be able to shut down most opposing guards and small forwards.
If Bynum isn’t healthy, the Lakers don’t have much depth down low. Gasol is the only true big man other than Bynum who is good enough to start. Odom is more of a small forward, but he does rebound well. However, Odom and Gasol aren’t the best defenders against powerful opposing big men. Fisher is a capable point guard, but Kobe is the real point guar. Farmar can come in and run some point, but he hasn’t proven to be a great floor leader yet.
Betting Odds and Projections
The Lakers are listed on Bodog as the favorites to win the NBA Championship, with 2-1 odds. Those are very strong odds, especially with such a top-heavy league right now. Teams like the Cavaliers, Celtics, Spurs and Magic have plenty of talent to contend with the Lakers. Will the hunger be there for Kobe and the Lakers to win another championship? There’s no doubt that they will be one of the top teams in the NBA again, will win at least 60 games, and should at the very least get to the Western Conference Finals. But at 2-1, there isn’t much value in betting on the Lakers to win the title.