!@#%! the Lakers - Koski
After a brief, two season sojourn, Warriors’ fans find themselves in familiar territory: rooting for a team out of the playoff hunt before the All Star break. What will Warriors’ fans do with themselves come Tax day in mid-April when the regular season ends? Like any respectable Bay Area sports fan they will do what is in their blood, root against the Lakers. Never fear Warriors fans and other Lakers haters, even though they may have the best record in the NBA as I type this article the Lakers will NOT win the NBA title this season. In classic, lazy writing style, I will use RT’s (self proclaimed “Warriors fan”) column against him.
Reason #1: Chemistry
Gasol and Kobe can memorize the entire periodic table of elements and they still will not have as much chemistry as their main rivals in Boston, Cleveland, San Antonio and even Denver. Boston’s core is unchanged and despite the recent overtime home loss to the Lakers, they’ve proven they can beat this Lakers team already. Mo Williams scored 44 points against the Suns this week which is bad news for the rest of the NBA. LeBron James now has the wingman he was missing when he single-handedly brought the Cavs to the brink of a title.
Speaking of chemistry, is there a team in the NBA over the last decade that has defined team chemistry more than the San Antonio Spurs? In case you haven’t looked at the standings lately, the Denver Nuggets have the second best record in the West right now. Moving AI in itself is chemistry addition by subtraction, but replacing AI with Chauncey Billups is like trading Dan Marino for Ben Rorthlisberger. One guy has is a sure fire hall of famer and the other guy is a winner who is at his best in the clutch. I seem to remember a certain Detroit team lead by Billups beating a certain Lakers team lead by Kobe a few years ago?
Reason #2: Defense
The Lakers are a good defensive team, I’ll give them that, but the four teams I mentioned above are all better defensively than the Lakers according to John Hollinger’s Def Eff. This system measures the number of points allowed per 100 possessions which is important because the NBA post season is a different animal than the regular season. Defense becomes important and offensive pace is slowed down immensely. There will be no 144-129 shoot-outs like the Knicks-Warriors Tuesday night in the post season. Let’s not go crazy talking defense because you still have to score more points than your opponents to win and even I can admit, begrudgingly, that the Lakers are good at scoring points. However, I’ll let Hollinger explain why the Lakers will have a tough time winning the title even if they can sneak past Denver or San Antonio,
“The most important reason is that the NBA Power Rankings use point differential rather than win-loss record. There's a good reason for this: point differential is a better predictor of future success, and thus a more reliable barometer of a team's quality. The Lakers have the league's best record, but rank third in point differential -- Boston and Cleveland are ahead, and Orlando is just a 10th of a point behind in fourth.”
Reason #3: MVP!
Kobe may be one of the best players in the league, but the key to the Lakers winning the championship will be once again sitting on the bench. Andrew Bynum was the X-factor the Lakers were missing last year and it looks like there is a good chance they will be without him this year. Kobe is the super star and the go-to-guy for the Lake Show, but he’s not their most “valuable” player. Andrew Bynum’s presence offensively opens up the game for Gasol and Kobe and unlike Pau, Bynum can actually play defense means that he is the MVP of the Lakers. When Bynum is in the game, teams can’t double Gasol or Kobe and Pau and Bynum are a tough burden to guard down low for any roster. Defensively, the Lakers lose even more with Bynum out of the lineup. The Warriors stole unsung defensive hero Turiaf from the Lakers in the off-season because LA decided to keep Sash Vujacic instead. Turiaf and Bynum were the main low post defenders for the Lakers, who are now vulnerable to low post players like Duncan and NeNe as well as drivers like LeBron, Paul Pierce and Carmelo. Without Bynum, the Lakers are still capable of great things, just not taking home the title.
Although it’s been a disappointing season for the Oracle faithful, rest assured the next parade in LA won’t be until next January’s Parade of Roses.