Viva Los Lakers!
We are back! The time has come to officially start the journey for the pinnacle of the mountain named ThreePeat.
Three consecutive trips to championship rounds, two consecutive titles (The Repeat), and the Lakers couldn't be in better shape to be the team to beat this season, no matter who or what is happening in the East!
First things first - Phil Jackson expressed his willingness to coach the Lakers for one more season, before seeking retirement owing to his health. And he is on the lookout for his 4th Threepeat! There you go, a legend, isn't he?
As soon as the trade window opened, in came Steve Blake from the Clippers. A tall guard, good from range, capable of running plays, a good substitute for Jordan Farmar (NJ Nets, now), a good back up guard behind Fisher. He is a bit slower than Farmar, but makes up for his pace with better defense and lesser turnovers than Farmar. And from what I've seen thus far, "Blake's calling the play like he knows the Triangle inside out for years". Do I need to say more?
Also came in Matt Barnes, another nemesis of Kobe Bryant. After Raja Bell snubbed Lakers (and Kobe) with a chance to team up with Kobe, Lakers set their eyes on Matt Barnes, who has traveled with 7 teams in 7 season. Barnes has stalking defense, good role player, good from range (though he gets over confident on them), and good on boards, not to forget, athletic and dedicated. Barnes was in the Lakers radar ever since his match-up against Kobe, especially the one played in Amway Arena, Orlando. he actually texted Kobe to make sure he wanted him in his team, to which Kobe replied that he had no problem at all, and was looking forward to Barnes dressed in Purple and Gold. Barnes will be a good back up for Ron Artest. Last season, the SF spot, if not for Artest was filled by Kobe (4th quarters), or by Josh Powell and Adam Morrison (bench), both of whom have signed up with other teams since. So, Barnes continues to Defense that Artest had been doing on the floor after the substitution. Boy o Boy! D-fense it is!
Next new comer - Theo Ratliffe. A 15 year old veteran, will be mostly retiring with the Lakers, with the hope of a ring to his name, mostly this year. His main task will be to keep the defensive breath still going strong with his strong nature at the low post, to box out, to board and to block (most importantly, to block). He still seems very fit to play good minutes off the bench. In the absence of Bynum in the initial stages of the season, he might have to check in for a few extra minutes. In the pre-season, he sure has impressed. Much more experience (than Mbenga), and another coach for Andrew Bynum, who is likely to push for an all-star spot if he can be fit and in the same form as he started last season. The other coach, is, the legendary Kareem Abdul Jabbar.
What can be like a dream come true for kids? Get into the Lakers' roster, though they were 2nd round picks! Derek Character and Devin Ebanks are living their dream now, having been picked by the Lakers, in the 2nd round of 2010 Draft Picks. They played very well, and pleased the coaches in the Summer League (Vegas), though the Lakers lost all 5 games in it. And, they continued to do well off the bench with lungs full of energy and enthusiasm and confidence. And, finally, the two of them made it to the roster. Ebanks, in particular is playing very well and getting recognition for reasons more than one. His minutes off the bench in the pre-season have been very productive. He is fast, has a good range, but is not very consistent yet. He drives well to the basket, and has a nice clutch drive-in layup, and powerful dunks for the Lakers fans to enjoy (apart from, you know, Shannon Brown). He fills in at SF and is capable of keeping the defensive strength go on for a few more minutes when both Artest and Barnes want to spend some time chatting on the side-lines. Derek Character, a strong tall lad is beginning to be a better low-post player day by day. He is strong enough to press the defence, make quick spins and jump, make bank shots (a la Shaq, one handed) and is learning from the other big men in the team, including the coach, Phil Jackson.
The summer was a time to rest for almost all the retained players - namely, Kobe, Fisher, Gasol, Artest. Bynum went to South Africa to watch the football/soccer world cup. Walton was nursing his back, and is now nursing his hamstring (but this is listed as a day-to-day.) Walton did play in the pre-season and has been fine. Brown had been on the rest too, I presume, didn't hear much about him in the off-season. Pau Gasol skipped the FIBA World Championships this summer, but played one on one games with his brother, Marc in their backyard in Spain. Marc did play in the World's. Speaking of the World's, Odom was one of the two veterans to accompany Team USA for the FIBA World Championships, in which Team USA emerged winners. Odom was steady in all games, and steadied the team too, which was full of youngsters to say the least. Odom had an all important double-double in the finals of the championships. Odom played center in all games. He is now in mid-season form, showing no signs of tight muscles, and has much more decision making skills now, is more respected, and is much wiser than his usually high basketball IQ.
All in all, things looking so very good for the ThreePeat! I just pray it does happen! Cometh October 26th! Let's win this!
Viva los LAKERS!