Tradin’ Questions about the Lakers

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Published: April 10, 2008

Before I get to the questions, I just wanted to put this link up for you.  It's a reader's poll sponsored by the guys at Hardwood Paroxysm that asks people to list their favorite blogs in a number of categories.  If you feel like it, go and vote for us.  If you really like us, you can even write us in as your favorite blog in all the other divisions too.

On to the questions.  Tomorrow night is a big one.  Win, and we've locked up the 1st seed in the West and may even be able to rest a starter or two in the last couple games of the year.  Lose, and we're playing out the string under pressure.  It also probably has some implications in the MVP race.

So once again, I bring you some traded questions for your perusal.  These answers are from Daniel at LABallTalk.com.  I just sent him my answers to his questions this morning, so they aren't up quite yet, but the will be soon.  Take a look.

Hornets247: Lamar Odom – when he arrived he was billed as Pippen to Kobe's Jordan.  Now he's an afterthought.  What does he do right for this team, and what does he do wrong?

LABallTalk.com: When  Phil Jackson came back to the  Lakers, the fans anticipated that he would turn Lamar into the next Scottie Pippen. Kobe has always been compared to Jordan so the first part was already standing. Odom has proven throughout his career that he has multiple strengths. His biggest key to potential fame was his ability to handle the ball. He is 6'10" and can easily take the ball coast to coast. He is a great rebounder and a great passer. His outside shot is questionable but when he's on, he's on. Since the Pau Gasol trade we have finally seen Lamar shine. There are two concepts to pull out of this. Either Lamar Odom is more comfortable as a third, potentially fourth option after Andrew Bynum's return, or he was angered by all the talk that Kobe finally has a real teammate and his anger has motivated him to play that much harder. He is close to triple double territory every night and his shooting percentage is extremely high. Lamar's problem is that he just isn't a smart player. He has the ideal skill set to be a key role player, even at $13 million, if he doesn't make risky plays when they are not necessary. Pippen was Jordan's second option because he wanted to be the star. Lamar can't be the second option because he just wants to win without really being the big name on the court. He is humble and deserves respect for that alone.

Hornets247: The Lakers Defense is one of the best in the league, and has improved greatly.  What is the source of this improvement?  Better team defense?  Fisher and Bynum/Gasol providing upgrades?

LABallTalk.com: The defense was great in the beginning of the season. As of late, the defense has taken a step back and seems to break down far too often, especially at key points in the game. Fisher has provided a big spark for this team. In the beginning of the year it was by his consistent shooting, today its more his leadership and veteran presence that is of so much help. He has clearly motivated Jordan(Farmar) to work on his game and they are now sharing minutes pretty equally. Bynum was obviously motivated over the summer when he heard of Kobe's comments and took it upon himself to get going. He's only 20 and already so strong and dominant in the paint. His injury has been a really big factor for this team's lapses on the defensive end but Ronny has done a solid job closing the hole. When the Lakers pulled off the trade for Pau Gasol, it was a great day. He has been great on the offensive end but hasn't truly shown any defensive abilities. He is 7'0" and is currently guarding the other team's center. When Bynum comes back, Pau will move to power forward and will have the chance to guard a player a few inches shorter than him. Simply put, team chemistry has been the key to the team's success on both end of the court and there is still so much room for improvement. Vujacic has also become a threat to the opposing team as he bodies up quite strong and always drives whoever he is guarding quite crazy. He knows how to get under a players skin and uses it to his advantage.

Hornets247: Put Vujacic on a bad team, and does he produce numbers?  Or is he a complimentary player reliant on the Lakers big guns and system?

LABallTalk.com: Vujacic has been amazing for this team in the last few months. He is currently ranked 5th in the league in three point shooting, just behind Peja Stojakovic. The thing about Sasha that most people tend to forget is that he is not a small guard that only knows how to shoot. Kobe has challenged him for years to become more aggresive and he has finally come out of his shell. Sasha is a big 6'7" and shoots lights out, wide open or double teamed. He is the only guy that I've seen consistently manage to pick up four point plays. Vujacic has finally started driving to the basket and creating plays for his teammates which has really paid off for him (see his playing time). The triangle offense is designed so that three players control the ball, and the two other guys are wide open for the majority of the time. These two guys are generally three point shooters or anyone with a quick release from the outside. Sasha is simply a great role player but he has the ability to really take over a team one day, if he has the opportunity to play for a team such as, say, the Clippers, Bobcats, Timberwolves, or Heat. I just went over this with a few of my friends and realized that he will draw plenty of interest this summer. He is a restricted free agent and a team like the Phoenix Suns will fight hard to pick him up.

Hornets247: If you could only keep one of your bench players, and all the rest had to go, who would it be?  Why?

LABallTalk.com: One bench guy that is irreplaceable on this team is Ronny Turiaf. He isn't the most productive if you look at the box score, but his presence is key to this team's success. Every team needs an energy guy that not only sparks the team when he is on the court, but also from the sideline. He is out there every night supporting his teammates and makes sure to give it all he's got every time he puts on a jersey. He also has a solid outside shot and hustles like no one else out there when it comes to rebounding and recovering on defense. Phil Jackson has made it clear that he appreciates his enthusiasm and the Lakers franchise is behind him for many years to come. The team was extremely involved in his open heart surgery (financially, physically, and emotionally), and has done everything possible to keep him a member of this team.


 

Remember to take a look at the questions Daniel asked us, and the answers we provided.

More about the game tomorrow.

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