5 Burning Questions for Mike Brown, LA Lakers to Answer Before NBA Playoffs

Ethan Norof@ethan_norofCorrespondent IMarch 30, 2012

OAKLAND, CA - MARCH 27:  Ramon Sessions #7 of the Los Angeles Lakers talks to head coach Mike Brown during their game against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena on March 27, 2012 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers fell once again to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night by a score of 102-93, and there are a lot of questions about whether this team can contend for a title.

Although Mike Brown's squad looks good on some nights, there is too much inconsistency to assume that the Lakers will find success in the postseason.

With teams like the Thunder and San Antonio Spurs ahead of Los Angeles and others nipping at the Lakers' heels, the uncertainty is beginning to swirl around what this Lakers team is capable of doing.


Can the bench step up on a consistent basis?

There is no other way to say this: The Lakers bench is absolutely awful.

The fact that the team has been this successful without any sort of capable reserve unit is amazing, but it's something that's going to be a real issue if nobody can emerge as a reliable contributor.

Matt Barnes has nice efforts sometimes and Andrew Goudelock has shown he can score, but the Lakers simply need more than they've been getting.


Can Kobe Bryant continue to play big minutes?

The lack of depth on the roster has forced Bryant into playing huge minutes this season, and he hasn't played fewer than 35 minutes in any game during March.

He's averaging nearly 39 minutes per game, and that is an awfully high number given Bryant's age and the mileage on his legs.

The Lakers really need him to be clicking on all cylinders when the playoffs roll around, and he's been in a major shooting slump since February and is hovering right around 40 percent from the floor since that time.

Who can help Kobe besides these two?
Who can help Kobe besides these two?Stephen Dunn/Getty Images


Who will step up after Kobe, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum?

We know the the three stars in Los Angeles are all capable of putting up big efforts when it matters most, but they're going to need help along the way.

With an inconsistent Metta World Peace still struggling on offense and Ramon Sessions yet to find his chemistry with the starting unit, the Lakers really need more than just Bryant, Bynum and Gasol.

Unless the three big boys can get some assistance from an unexpected source, it's going to be tough to beat the deeper teams in the Western Conference.


How will the team improve its three-point shooting?

Beyond newcomer Ramon Sessions, the Lakers' best shooter from behind the three-point line this season has been the seldom-used Troy Murphy.

That's not going to cut it.

Sans Sessions, not a single member of the starting lineup is shooting better than 30 percent from deep this year.

The Lakers have to find a way to effectively stretch the floor in order to open things up down low for Gasol and Bynum.


Can this team beat another with speed on the perimeter?

The lack of speed on the perimeter is an alarming element of the Lakers.

Los Angeles really needs to find a way to better defend teams on the outside, but the Lakers might just not have the personnel capable of doing it.

Facing another team capable of knocking down the three-point shot and that has good ball movement (San Antonio, Oklahoma City), the Lakers will struggle unless the current effort can be improved.