Lack of Depth
This time last year, the Los Angeles Lakers were considered to be a team lacking depth with a roster that only boasted seven or eight key contributors to the team’s success. This year is looking much worse.
After a failed Chris Paul trade, Lamar Odom requested a trade himself and was sent to the team that swept the Lakers in the playoffs last season in the Dallas Mavericks. To make matters worse, Shannon Brown had already taken it upon himself to sign with the Phoenix Suns in the offseason. Odom and Brown were key factors off the bench for the Lakers last year and were the team’s third and fifth leading scorers respectively.
The point guard position has always been a point of concern for the Lakers but now in addition to that, management needs to focus attention on bringing in a quality back-up for Kobe as well as depth in the frontcourt. When I looked at the starting lineup for the Lakers on opening day, I had to stop and ask myself who these people were. The 2011-12 lineup featured two new faces in forward Josh McRoberts and Devin Ebanks to go alongside veterans Kobe, Pau Gasol, and Matt Barnes with Metta World Peace (formerly Ron Artest) coming off the bench as the sixth man. This lack of effective players will come back to haunt the Lakers in the long run unless a change is made sooner rather than later.
I still stand strongly behind my idea of trading Gasol and Andrew Bynum to the Magic for 3-time Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard but that will hardly solve all of the problems the Lakers have with their current roster. And this lack of depth is just the tip of the iceberg for this Lakers squad.
As many people heard, Kobe Bryant went overseas to Germany over the offseason to have a controversial blood platelet surgery on his right knee to reduce the swelling and pain he has been experiencing over the past few seasons. In addition to the knee, Kobe also suffers from a severely injured right index finger that many say is incapable of being repaired.
This season, Kobe could be playing with the worst off all his recent injuries. According to TMZ, Kobe has been suffering from “excruciating pain.” To deal with this, he’s been receiving a numbing shot before each game. Now I’m no expert, but there is no way this can be healthy for Kobe in the long-term or the short-term.
With Kobe playing in his 16th NBA season at only 33 years old, the time for him to officially hang ‘em up may be approaching faster than many of us previously thought. Miraculously, Kobe has been able to play through these injuries but the length of time this will be able to continue remains unknown.
When Shaquille O’Neal retired at the end of last season, he was quoted explaining that, “[at some point] you realize you just can’t play anymore.” Hopefully Kobe will be able to last until the end of the season but only time will tell.
66-game season vs. Age of Lakers’ Roster
This shortened NBA season might be good for the league exec’s who wanted to get the NBA season up and running as soon as possible and fill with as many games as they possibly could. But for older teams, this season might be a step backwards.
The players on this Lakers roster definitely wouldn’t fool anyone for a Division I college team as the average age of the starting lineup (Fisher, Bryant, Barnes, Gasol, Bynum) is 31.2 years old and the team has 9 of its 15 players over the age of 30.
The team opened the season with four games in five days and in their last four matchups, they’ve only had two days of rest. Between January 8th and the 31st, the Lakers are scheduled to play in 13 games with 4 back-to-backs. The frequency of games will wear on the bodies of the players and older teams like the Lakers will suffer.