Laker Exit Raises Questions About Future

The Lakers used to be on top of the basketball world. It was just two years ago that they completed a back to back as NBA champions. Just last night they were eliminated by the young and extremely talented Oklahoma City Thunder. It wasn’t a surprise, the Thunder are arguably the best team in the NBA right now and the Lakers didn’t seem to have the energy to match OKC. What happens now, nobody really knows. Like Kobe said the Lakers aren’t a very patient organization and he isn’t either. He wants his 6th ring, and he wants it now. Well, like not actually now, because they were just eliminated but you know, it’s a figure of speech. Ok, so back to this article. The blaring spot in this roster is really the bench. All the other flaws in their game can be fixed through communication and more nights in the gym. Stuff like Pau actually looking at the basket once in a while, Bynum playing offense and then you know playing defense, and of course Sessions knocking down a jumper here and there. They desperately need a bench, I think the most obvious move to make this summer would be to re-sign Lamar Odom and bring him back as a 6th man. He cried for months because he couldn’t shoot Khloe and Lamar in Los Angeles anymore so bring him back, get his reality show career back on track and he’ll be putting up 12 4 and 4 once again. Jordan Hill was a great pickup, Steve Blake is a nice piece but the other 5 players on the team are just trash. They desperately need a trade or a free agent signing this summer to build up their depth. Maybe even get a young prospect in the draft, this years draft is very deep and they could get lucky. Youth would be nice, someone like a Kawhi Leonard and what he did for the Spurs. Someone to jolt some energy into the Lakers. Another option you might ponder would be seeing what Pau’s value is this summer. Pau is so inconsistent, and passive on the offensive end that he can’t produce on a game to game basis when you need him. Bynum has years to develop, Pau is 33 and the Lakers may want to see who they can get for him. Ideally, they need youth and energy. Someone who can speed up their tempo and provide some fresh legs for this team.

Something needs to change because two second round exits in a row isn’t good enough for the Lakers. They need a smart move this summer to put them back on track.

Thunder vs Lakers Matchup

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I love this series. Not only because the two best scorers in the game are featured, but because two seasons ago when the Thunder dynasty was new to the elite group of teams it was the Lakers who crushed their dreams. It’s awesome to see that this season the Thunder will get revenge at the Lakers. Also, because I’m hoping Ron… I mean Metta World Peace has another elbow spasm and starts more controversy. I also love when he contradicts his new name. Anyway, back to the series.

I think the main reason why the Lakers won’t win this series is because the Thunder are the only team in the league with enough premier post defenders to stop them from scoring inside. For the Lakers, their interior scoring is their biggest strength. The Thunder have Perkins, Collison, Mohammed, and Ibaka who are all defensive minded players who can limit Pau and Bynum. Pau was held to 10 points and Bynum was held to 20 in game 1. Game 1 was a blow out and a few things contributed to that. Kobe couldn’t get into a rythm. The Thunder had too many ways to stop him defensively, and they did. He shot a poor 38% from the field and was limited to 20 points. Sefolosha, Harden, and even Durant all took turns frustrating Kobe. Additionally, Ramon Sessions couldn’t put the ball in the hoop. He shot 1-7 from the field for 2 points. That attributes to the Thunder defense, and Russell Westbrook’s job on him. When Kobe is limited, Pau is being held to 10 points and Sessions is being held to 2, the Lakers will never win a game. That’s simply because the supporting cast behind them are pretty terrible. The bench scored 26 of the Lakers’ 90 points. Their depth will definitely be exposed in this series, considering the Thunder are such a deep team. They did a good job on the glass, but had no answer for Westbrook and Durant. If both of them continue to score 25+ for the rest of the series then this will be easy.

In game 2, the Lakers were close but couldn’t hold onto the lead for a full 48 minutes. That is credited to poor late game execution, which isn’t characteristic of the Lakers. They got a good last shot, but gave up a 9 point run to the Thunder in the final 2 minutes. To be quite honest, they only held the lead because the Thunder weren’t knocking down shots. It wasn’t because they were playing stellar basketball. Ramon Sessions was once again held to 2 points. He only took 3 shots though, so either he has to be more assertive or they just have to stop watching Kobe shoot the ball, which he isn’t doing efficiently by the way. He shot a poor 36% from 9-25 from the field. That was again credited to the strong perimeter defense of the Thunder. Once again the Laker bench was atrocious, scoring only 11 of the Lakers 75 points. They definitely need to step up, the Thunder have very good match-ups defensively against the Lakers starting unit so they desperately need some spark. Once again though, they did a great job on the glass out-rebounding the Thunder by 5. For the Thunder they have to be more aggressive. In game 1 and 2 they took way too many jump shots and that’s ok when you’re making them like in game 1. However, in game 2 when Harden is 3-8 and Westbrook is 5-17 they need scoring from inside. I’d look for them to be more aggressive down low, because they almost lost this game due to settling for jumpers.

For the future, I think the Thunder have to be more aggressive with the basketball. Maybe try to get more driving opportunities and get the Laker big men in trouble. For the Lakers, they need to take another look at their offensive strategy. Kobe is struggling this series shooting a combined 37% from the field. Sessions is struggling and the bench just can’t play basketball at this point. They should try utilize Bynum more in games 3 and 4, although the Thunder have interior defenders he has a size mismatch on everybody. They should play more of an inside out game through the rest of the series, that way they can get Bynum hot early and free up space for Sessions and Kobe.

I’m going to have to take the Thunder in this series in 5 games.

Chris Paul + Clips

Finally, David Stern and the rest of the owners gave in to a trade involving Chris Paul. The Clippers traded Chris Kaman, Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu and the 1st pick of the 2012 draft. All for CP3 and two second round draft picks. Now that CP3 is with the Clippers, the first question that needs addressing is an extension. Did the Clippers trade young talent for a guy who will dash out when he gets the chance? Also, who is the better team in Los Angeles? Questions need answers, so here we go.

If I was Chris Paul, I would sign an extension with the Clippers. It’s actually a no brainer. You’d be playing with the rookie of the year and one of the best big men in the league. You’d be playing in the best city in america. Hollywood. Where the opportunities are endless. Don’t forget being mentored by 2004 finals MVP Chauncey Billups. And playing with a developing Tyson Chandler type of player in Deandre Jordan. He won’t get anything better in the offseason. This team can take him far in the short term but also in the longterm.

The other question under discussion is the rivalry between the Lakers and Clippers. Who is better? The Lakers have ruled the city of Los Angeles for as long as the NBA has been around. The Clippers are like the disappointing son who is stuck in their father’s shadow. Kobe has been the king of Los Angeles and only until Blake Griffin came along did people even consider the Clippers as a legitimate team.

Now it seems like the Clippers are the better team in Los Angeles. The Lakers have the experience point. They have Kobe one of the best players in the league, and along with him, Pau, Metta World Peace, Andrew Bynum and Derrick Fisher who all know what it takes to win a championship. However, the Clippers have the fresh legs. They have the developing stars and two all stars who are both under 30. The point guard competition between the two teams isn’t even a comparison. Chris Paul almost single handedly beat the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs last year. The Lakers only won 4-2 in what was an expected blow out. Chris Paul will take Derrick Fisher to town all day long. The shooting guard position isn’t a comparison either. Kobe will burn Eric Bledsoe every time down the floor. He has the moves even at 33, he can still score 40 if he wants to. The small forward position is pretty equal to me. Ron Artest is clearly the better defender, and is the tougher and stronger player. However, last season he scored a career low 8 points a game. He is an offensive liability and won’t be too hard to defend for Caron Butler. The Power Forward position goes to the Clippers. Everyone may be a bit surprised by the last statement. However, last postseason I couldn’t stand watching Pau Gasol play basketball. A ‘7 footer playing soft actually agitates me. If you have the size, strength and agility then use it. He didn’t at all. He also won’t be able to keep up with the speedy, and strong Blake Griffin who will jump over him any time he wants. The center position however, has to go to the Lakers. DeAndre Jordan is becoming a force in the paint but Andrew Bynum has the experience and more of a developed game on both sides of the floor.The bench goes to the Clippers. After the Lakers losing Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown their bench is pretty empty. They signed Josh McRoberts however, there is a limit to his game. The Clippers bench has Chauncey Billups the 2004 finals MVP and one of the smartest players in the game, who will mentor every young player on the team.The coaching competition is the easiest of all. Vinny Del Negro needs to go. Mike Brown is a defensive mastermind, and has been to the finals before with James and the 2007 Cavaliers.

Now that we’ve established the better team in Los Angeles, we have to take the Clippers to the whole conference and see how they compare. I can see them winning the Pacific Division. It will be close but they can get it over the Lakers. When playoffs come around they will definitely be in contention. They will come in the top 4 in the West but that’s when their run might end. They have talent, they have fresh legs, they have superstars but they don’t have too much experience. That is the key when a game 7 comes around in the playoffs. The smart players, and the players used to pressure will prevail. The Clippers only weakness is their experience. If they could add another veteran on the bench that could do wonders.

Exciting Moments Ahead

Only 22 more days till the most anticipated NBA tip-off in recent memory. The excitement is indescribable, already rumours are beginning, teams are practicing and fans are biting their nails, anxiously awaiting Christmas day. Exciting moments are on their way. In the spirit of Christmas I bring to you the 12 most exciting things to look forward to this season.

12. NBA Tip-Off

Although, the NBA tip-off is only one day of a 66 game season. It will begin the domino effect of exciting games. The match-ups all consist of star players and exciting teams. Boston’s Big Three takes their talents to New York to match up against the Knicks Big Three.  A finals rematch in Dallas. Former MVP’s match up as the Bulls take on the Lakers. Superman is flying to Oklahoma as the Magic take on the Thunder. And Bad Blake will begin the hundreds of mind-blowing dunks as the Clippers take on the Golden State Warriors. Merry Christmas indeed.

11. Celtics Too Old?

After the Celtics lost to Miami’s Big Three in the conference semi-finals last year, a lot of people said they didn’t have the young talent to compete with the upcoming teams in the league. Such as, Miami, Oklahoma, Chicago and so on. The Big Three in Boston have a title and know how to win and what it takes to win. Something that is taken for granted through the eyes of fans. Garnett still has his toughness, and maybe he isn’t as quick as he used to be but he still has a killer shot and knows when to step up. Ray Allen, hasn’t aged at all. His three is still lights out, as well as his mid range jumper. And people can say nothing about Paul Pierce, after all his exciting plays this season. This play in particular….

There is no need to even watch past 0:24. I’m just saying, the Celtics still got it and although they may be looked upon as the old timers in a new generation they have some tricks up their sleeves. The Celtics may play with a chip on their shoulder and that means terror for other teams in the league.

10. KD Not Kidding Anymore

After barely beating the Grizzlies last year and losing to the Mavericks in the conference finals, KD knew he could never go through anything like that again. He was done losing, after getting his heart broken by the Lakers in the 1st round in ’10 and losing to Dallas in ’11 he knew he had to change. This summer he has wasted no time improving his game. Here is proof…..

I cannot wait to see Kevin Durant develop more as a player and as a scorer and bring Oklahoma City their much deserved ring.

9. Grizzlies Back on Their Grizzly

When the Grizzlies defeated the number 1 seeded Spurs in the west I was shocked. Heck, the whole world was shocked. The Spurs had been having a picture perfect season. 60 wins and the 1st seed in the West. They thought they had a legitimate chance at a title. Then the young, scrappy, Grizzlies came along and silenced San-Antonio and the NBA world. Then when they forced a game 7 against KD and the Thunder we began to really take them seriously. Unfortunately, they couldn’t push past the Thunder. However, they exited the playoffs with nothing to be ashamed of. They gave two of the best teams in the West a run for their money. They may have failed in the playoffs but succeeded in imprinting their game in everyone’s mind. Now that Mike Conley, Z-Bo, and Rudy Gay are back, the Grizzlies will enter this season as legitimate competition. I can’t wait to see more of their electrifying game.

8. Rookie Class

This year’s rookie class is nothing special. There are no Lebron’s, no Kobe’s, nobody that is an obvious star. However, that’s what makes it interesting. Anyone of the  rookies can jump out and surprise us, almost like Blake Griffin did with his first  NBA dunk. The favourites for Rookie of The Year are Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams. However, Enes Kanter, Kemba Walker, Jimmer Fredette and Ricky Rubio may want a piece of the spotlight. Maybe this rookie class isn’t filled with future stars but they are filled with exciting players.

7. Knicks Gelling

The new look Knicks played 42 games together last season, Melo and Amar’e brought  a glimmer of hope to the one city that needed it most. Now they hope to develop upon that and expand that glimmer of hope into a championship.  Due to Amar’e’s back injury during the 1st round of the playoff’s last year the Knicks didn’t have a chance. I believe if Amar’e had been fully healthy they would’ve played Miami in the 2nd round. The big question heading into this season, is how will Amar’e, Melo and Billups work together. Last season there was definitely some miscommunication on the court, but when these guys learn how to work together. Miami better watch their back.

6. D-Rose 2 Time MVP?

After D-Rose’s breakout season last year and the Bulls surprising success, I’m intrigued by what they will bring to the table this year. Lockdown defense is for sure. But can Derrick Rose match the stellar performance he gave last year.  He clearly has tricks up his sleeve, and if you haven’t seen his highlights from last season then prepare to be astounded….  

 The question is what will he surprise us with this season? A 50 point game? More killer crossovers? Unbelievable hops? D-Rose is unpredictable, but what we do know is that he will be eager to show everyone that last season’s success was no fluke. And that the Bulls and himself are here to stay among the elite.

 5. Lakers Redeem Themselves  

The Los Angeles Lakers suffered an embarrassing defeat in the Conference semi-finals to Dirk and the Mavs. Phil Jackson will try to forget his last series as a coach. He will try to forget Andrew Bynum throwing an elbow of frustration to J.J Barea. He will definitely try to forget being swept by Dallas. Now with a new coach, and a hungry Kobe, the Lakers can start on a clean slate. Everyone knows Kobe is angry and wants back on that throne. NBA fans everywhere, brace yourself for a Kobe overdrive.

4. Miami Back With a Vengeance  

Miami suffered at the hands of greatness last season when losing to Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks in the finals. Everyone, including themselves called the season a failure. This summer Lebron, and D-Wade didn’t waste time sulking or lowering their heads. They’re focused on greatness and focused on championships so they’ve been hard at work preparing for this season….

 Now that Lebron, D-Wade, and Bosh have additional criticism and motivation from last season it will be interesting to see how they come back this season. I’m predicting full on domination.

  3. Blake Show is Back  

If you ask any fan what team was most exciting to watch last season I bet you more than half would say the Los Angeles Clippers. This young and talented squad showed true potential last year when the Blake Show came along. They even made the Lakers a little nervous about being the top team in Los Angeles. But, Blake Griffin and the rest of his crew are back with more experience and more flavour this year. I’m eager to see them in action and to see Blake throwing down monster jam’s this season.

 2. Dallas 2-Peat

 After winning a title last year, Dirk and the Mavericks must be careful about their throne. The Lakers will be back and ready to redeem themselves, Miami will have more firepower than ever, and every other team in the league wants a seat on top. Dallas are prime targets this season and the fact that Tyson Chandler hasn’t signed an extension should worry them more. They’re veteran roster must be ready for the new guys in town who will do anything to defeat them. I wonder if J-Kidd, Dirk and Jason Terry will have what it takes this year. It will be more than exciting to see them in the finals once again.

 1. CP3 and Superman

 The best center in the league and arguably the best point guard in the league are free agents next summer. CP3’s agent has released statements that he wants a bite out of the Big Apple and there is speculation the Dwight wants out. We know the Magic and Hornets will try to improve their rosters around their stars before it’s too late. We also know they will trade them to get the most out of them if their stars don’t agree to an extension. This will be the most exciting part of the season due to the impact that these players will make on any team. Imagine CP3, Melo and Amar’e in New York. They’d instantly be best in the East. Or if Dwight went to Los Angeles, the Lakers would instantly be best in the West. After the Melo-Drama and the free agent frenzy of 2010-2011 we have all grown to love stars teaming up. It will be exciting to follow the drama that surrounds these players all season.