Thursday, October 13, 2011
SCOUTING THE ROSTER-THE B LIST
So good there's seconds.
The Lake Show is on right now. Over the past few seasons Los Angeles have been so good they've been named champion twice. If the Lakers want to avenge last years loss to last years champion Dallas, they will have to rely on more than the Mamba, the Spaniard and the act of 'World Peace' however. The Lakers depth extends more than Metta's wide range of extensive experience and Derek Fishers clutch range. If the Lakers are to be more successful and write history like Drake a big reason will be the bench mob which is the best they ever had. The second infantry is what will soldier this team on in a deep season and playoff campaign as the Lakers look to get presidential a year after their second, victorious term didn't translate into a three-peat. With this in mind and on court let's scout even further.
STEVE BLAKE: Derek Fisher may have the experience but Steve Blake's the future. Derek may have the years but Steve's got the speed. Blake's three point shot has developed so much that you could bank on it rivalling Fisher's in the clutch. These backcourt mates have nothing to bicker about however. These two guards compliment each other perfectly. Steve Blake in less than ten games last season showed that he would even belong in the first five. This game hero has already been a life saver for L.A. and there's still plenty of breathing space left for his development. A couple of years back the Lakers were a donut in the P.G. position but now they get the point.
SHANNON BROWN: There's more than an engagement to R&B singer Monica that is making this spark plug hit all the high notes. Shannon's always been more than a dunker but last year Brown really saw the light. Shannon looks to take flight this 82 as this years slogan should be 'Let Shannon Play'. He's now a free-agent but the Lakers should do all they can do to keep him locked down in L.A. lockout or not. Brown's shown great versatility over the years, his developing range is measuring as high as his energy. Still Shannon's dunking is what is pined after and gawked at as much as the bikini models on Venice Beach and it's these amazing aerial displays that will keep other teams grounded in games were the Lakers team or crowd need a 'lift me up'. Shannon Brown is the perfect definition of an energy player off the bench. Lose your spark he's ready to plug in at any given time. This pine time player is an expert in the prime time. Remember it's not who starts games, it's who finishes them.
MATT BARNES: This tattooed warrior settled back in California last season looking for some championship ink. OK there were no new tattoo's last year but Matt's got plenty of breathing room left on his skin. Sure to some this guy appears rough around the edges bit a player like him should make the Lakers cruise to the championship on a smooth sail. Matt is the strong, second wind behind the energy of the bench mob. With Ron Artest and the doberman, Barnes Jerry Maguires a three man perimeter defence tandem that is the best in the league with a mission statement to watch the throne. When all three bless the court at the same time even the Miami Heat will have hell to play. Plus Matt can spell both Kobe's shooting guard position and Ron's small forward spot meaning this swingman can give the Lakers an effervescent, fiery, defensive presence when the Lakers first string defenders cool off from the burn. Barnes tenacity and versatility help the Lakers adopt these characteristics as well. This defensive minded player is offensive too. Career highs of 36 points make Barnes guilty of talent on both ends of the floor.
LAMAR ODOM: He has not made an All-Star team yet (why?) and critics have written him off as the Scottie Pippen to Kobe's Michael Jordan (again why?). Still however Lamar Odom is the benches franchise player to Kobe's first team one. He may never be an MVP but ihe sure is even more than the 'Sixth Man of the Year; honor he picked up last season. Even when injury prone Andrew Bynum is out Odom can help the roster draw shape by moving to the four on the floor as Gasol takes front and centre. It's this versatility that sets guys like Odom and Garnett from the rest. If L.A. cloned L.O. he could play all five positions. This big guy can play in the backcourt too, now that's truly Magic. He's come on leaps and bounds over the years, but don't get it twisted he's no most improved. Lamar's always been this good. There isn't a player quite like him and until Anthony Randolph develops there won't be one still. Another unique thing about the Hollywood favourite (in more ways than one) is his unselfishness. He could be the star but he's more complimentary, not lazy. Critics may put other so called stars above Odom but he's got two things those others don't have...rings.
THEO RATLIFF: Lakers backup centres have always been reliable and entertaining but you can bank on something more eye catching with defensive presence, Theo Ratliff bringing his shot-swatting staple to the Lakers stadium. Last season Theo became as welcome in this Lakers family as a Huxtable is to the Cosby's. There's going to be a block party in L.A this year with Ratliffs presence on the hardwood and with this D student coming off the bench the defensive minded Lakers look even better at guarding the West throne from the rest and the Maverick best. Now Theo may be the oldest Laker but even in reduced minutes he'll still bring the Lakers an asset of experience that will pay off in playoff dividends.
Now with a second unit as strong as this it even leaves talent like Luke Walton and Joe Smith on the third team. Or if you like, the benches ideal sixth man (how strong is this?). It's this second battalions mix of fight, versatility and experience that makes these players the perfect finishing compliment to the starters. This second string ties this team together brilliantly. Meaning even when the Lakers are on the ropes they'll have the support in their corner ready to go another round. This second squad may not be a Hollywood list but it's all-star. Now don't you just love it when a B-team comes together? TIM DAVID HARVEY.