Are the Lakers Better Without Kobe??

Kobe Bryant called me up a couple days ago.  After a few minutes of chit chat, we got down to business.

Kobe: Nate, I saw your post on the new blog. You really think I should sit out?

Nate: Yeah. I mean, you need the rest, man. You gotta win another chip. Last year was last year. People think like Janet Jackson: “what have you done for me lately??”

Kobe: The team needs me. Pau is a wuss, Fisher got his first social security check last week and as for  Andrew…ship his ass out. How can we keep pace with the West if I don’t play?

Nate: Home court is overrated. You’re the Mamba. Road or away, if you’re healthy, no team can beat the Lakers in the playoffs. Period.

Kobe: Yeah, you’re right. I’m going to heal up.

And that’s how the conversation went. Kobe sat out and instead of the Lakers losing, something strange has happened. They won. Even more surprising, they’ve looked great doing it. In Portland this past weekend, the Lakers won there for the first time in the last 10 tries.  Last night, the Lakers did it again beating San Antonio 101-89.

Gasol looked like a franchise player against Duncan, netting 21 points, grabbing 19 boards, dishing 8 dimes and swatting 5 blocks. Those are GOAT numbers right there.  Lamar Odom was a beast on the glass contributing 10 rebounds in addition to his 16 points. Ron Artest was solid with 18 points and Derek Fisher shot above 50% en route to 13 points. Shannon Brown provided solid play as a starter in Kobe’s place, while Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar looked better off the bench than they’ve done all year.

This all begs the question: are the Lakers better without Kobe?

To anyone who said yes, in the words of Rick James, “cocaine is a hell of a drug.” Of course the Lakers aren’t better without Kobe.

The Lakers are better without Andrew Bynum.

The Lakers these past two games looked about as good as they did last season – just a little worse offensively. Last year, they didn’t have Andrew Bynum for most of the season and won 65 games. They didn’t rely on Bynum in the playoffs and won the championship. In the San Antonio game, Bynum didn’t play. In Portland, he didn’t play in the second half when the Lakers really started to gel. I know it seems counter-intuitive, but Pau Gasol is a better center than Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom is a better power forward than Pau Gasol.

It is crazy to think, but defensively, Bynum misses assignments and rotations constantly. His inability to play help defensive negates his special ability to block shots. Even in one on one situations, Bynum plays poor position defense and generally ends up fouling the offensive player. Gasol can also use his length to block shots just like Bynum, but Gasol is quick enough to stay with the centers. Pau is also a veteran, so he doesn’t fall for fancy footwork and doesn’t pick up cheap fouls. If a center gets too rough,  you can always count on Pau to flop draw the offensive foul.

Odom forces power forwards to make a decision. Offensively, he can start at the top of the key and beat you off the dribble. If you help on Odom, he’s such an accomplished passer that he’ll get someone else an easy bucket. If you don’t help, and you don’t force him right, he’ll finish at the rim. Defensively his 6’10 length bothers power-forwards and once the rebound is in his hands, he pushes up the floor creating tons of transition opportunities.

Bynum’s inability to get back on offense or defense fast enough prevents the Lakers from running at full potential and that is why we have seen what appears to be a better Lakers team in recent days.

So here’s my proposal: Andrew Bynum, Adam Morrison and Flea for Chris Bosh

In the words of the Laker faithful, “Do it, Mitch!”

5 Responses to “Are the Lakers Better Without Kobe??”

  1. I don’t know whether I was more impressed by the Lakers pulling it off, or distressed at how poorly the Spurs played. Not even 12 months ago, people were talking about Timmy D and the Spurs as the “team of the 00’s,” boring though they may be.

    Kobe’s clearly the motor for this Lakers team, but unlike previous years, his supporting cast is strong enough to be a playoff team without him. They do need to make some changes, though, in order to better compete in the anticipated Finals matchup with Cleveland / Orlando, as each of those teams looks poised to make a move to improve their own chances.

    I agree with you that Bynum needs to go. The Cavaliers are looking to add a stretch-4 like Antawn Jamison or Troy Murphy, and a matchup of Shaq v. Bynum and Pau/Lamar v. “new jumpshooting banger” is favorable to the Cavs, IMHO. Pau’s more effective as the primary low-post threat, and the Candyman aka Mr. Kardashian is, along with Rashard Lewis, the blueprint for the type of player the Cavs are looking to add.

    Big, powerful, immobile centers are being phased out in today’s NBA. Bynum will be a good player for the duration of his career, but any team that makes him a focal point of its offensive attack will be frustrated at the opposite end of the court, where the trend has been and will continue to be athleticism over raw strength. Just look at a list of the low-post players who are among the most impactful on their own teams’ success: David Lee, Knicks, Dwight Howard, Magic, Chris Bosh, Raptors, Carl Landry / Luis Scola, Rockets, David West, Hornets.

    The age of the beastly man-mountain center is in its twilight. When Shaquille finally retires, we’ll put to bed that player archetype as well. I’m not high on Bynum’s value to the Lakers as Kobe ages for specifically this reason.

  2. Also, I think we can definitively say that the Richard Jefferson experiment in San Antonio has been an utter failure. All RJ has done since arriving in San Antonio has been giving the Spurs one more point per game and one more rebound per game than Roger Mason, who plays at a fraction of the cost. Ginobili’s done, and without a reliable wing scorer (and especially given Tony Parker-Longoria’s injury woes) the Spurs are just another mediocre NBA team maybe worthy of an 8 seed, maybe not. Too bad, because Timmy D is playing some of the best ball of his life. Maybe he should be moved?

  3. dickfingers Says:

    “Fisher got his first social security check last week ”

    and is the only reason the Lakers won the ring last year.

  4. Nah, the only reason the lakers won the ring last year is the Cavaliers couldn’t figure out how to stop Rashard Lewis . . . hence their pursuit of a Stretch-4 they’ll probably nail before the trade deadline. I’m going to write about this and other trade scenarios probably tomorrow.

  5. DumbassFucker Says:

    This was the worst article on this website. Terrible.

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