Eight Reasons the Lakers Won't Be Champions

Clublakers.comAnalyst IMarch 10, 2008

By trodgers for Clublakers.com 

1. Lack of Athleticism

With Pau Gasol playing the 5 spot, the Lakers can put a fairly athletic team on the floor at the 5, 4, and 2 spots.

Derek Fisher lacks a bit in athleticism, but is a hustle player with good strength. So long as Luke Walton is starting at the Small Forward position, the Lakers are at a (sizable) disadvantage against nearly every team in the NBA. That is a problem.

And while Jordan Farmar brings improved athleticism at the PG spot, I cannot imagine seeing an upgrade to that pivotal SF position at any time soon. Vladimir Radmanovic is more athletic than Walton, but he is no athlete, either.

Cause for concern: slight

The Lakers have many other things going in their favor that can cancel out Walton's lack of athleticism.


2. Inexperience

This is not the same team that was bounced from the playoffs the past two seasons. This is a much deeper team with more experienced players in the starting lineup.

That said, aside from Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher, Lamar Odom is the only other player with noteworthy playoff experience.

Compare this to, say, the Spurs, the Pistons, or the Celtics and the Lakers will be at a disadvantage come playoff time.

Cause for concern: slight

Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher have about as much experience as anyone could ask for. Odom, too, has solid experience. The bench is fairly seasoned from two consecutive trips to the playoffs. Finally, some upgrades (Gasol) have added decent playoff experience as well.


3. The Road to the Finals

The odds of any team winning the Championship are small. Factor in the tough, tough Western Conference that could see the Lakers face Phoenix, the team that has beaten them two years in a row, in the first round.

A victory could send them up against the Rockets, a team with a 18-game winning streak or the Mavericks, arguably the best team in the league last year.

A Western Conference Final game likely against the Spurs would be a true test. And a win would put them up against LeBron James (the only player in the NBA who has a chance against Kobe every night), the Detroit Pistons (who shellacked the Lakers in the last meeting between the two teams in the Finals), or the Boston Celtics (everyone's favorite at the beginning of the season to win it all).

Cause for concern: slight to moderate

It's a tough road, but someone will travel it. I like LA's chances.


4. Not Enough Winners 

The Los Angeles Lakers are not winners. Kobe Bryant is. Derek Fisher is. Lamar Odom is not. Pau Gasol is not. Vlad Radmanovic is not.

If success in college matters, I suppose Jordan Farmar and Ronny Turiaf are, but it really does not matter. This is a different game.

Gasol has never made it out of the first round. In fact, neither has Farmar, Coby Karl, Sasha Vujacic, Turiaf, Andrew Bynum, or Trevor Ariza.

That means just Kobe, Fisher, Odom, Walton, Vlad, and Mbenga have made it past the first round. (Chris Mihm is in limbo.)

Cause for concern: slight to moderate

Make no mistake: Kobe, Fisher and Odom have enough skill in previous playoff trips to make the team formidable. Gasol has been very impressive as well.


5. Derek Fisher

I love Derek Fisher. I was so pleased when the Lakers signed him even when other Lakers fans said that he was too slow, too old, could not defend, and was not even a good shooter when he wasn't getting open looks.

Derek Fisher was exactly what this team needed to go from so-so to good.

He is not, I think, what the Lakers need to become the best. At least not as a starter. When his shot isn't falling, he is absolutely a detriment to the team because he does not have the footspeed necessary to defend against Tony Parker, Rajon Rondo, Jason Kidd, and the rest of the PGs he will face in the playoffs.

Cause for concern: moderate

A 4-5 duo of Gasol and Bynum will make dribble penetration very difficult, but we have not seen Bynum in a long, long time in purple and gold.


6. Jordan Farmar

Sorry to pick on the young guy, but when you get past Derek Fisher, you come to Farmar. He is playing heavy minutes at the 1-Guard position and his game must be honed considerably if he is going to give the Lakers what they need to win.

His outside shot is solid and he has slick handle and great passing ability to go with tremendous athleticism. That said, he plays like a rookie.

His defense is subpar most of the time with him losing track of his man fairly routinely.

His love for complicated and fancy passes gives him more Turnovers than he should commit.

And his Free Throw shooting is dreadful for a Point Guard. He MUST improve.

Cause for concern: moderate to severe


7. Injuries

When Andrew Bynum went down with a knee injury, LA fans thought it was over. Pau Gasol changed all of that in the minds of Lakers fans and seemingly in the minds of most sports enthusiasts as well.

Unfortunately, I must remind everyone that Bynum still has not come back and Trevor Ariza, the most consistent perimeter defender on the team other than Kobe, is still out as well.

Chris Mihm's recent progress is encouraging, but he has missed basically two seasons in a row now. Kobe's finger is hanging on by a thread and is painful.

I don't think Lakers fans realize how close this situation is to critical.

An injury to Kobe or Gasol would almost certainly mean the end of the title hopes. With no Bynum and Ariza, it will be very, very difficult for LA.

Cause for concern: moderate to severe


8. Defensive Toughness

The Lakers are NOT a good defensive team with Walton and Vlad at the Forward spot. Fisher's weaknesses are exposed more with Odom at the PF spot.

While the Lakers do not give up a lot of points per possession, they play a fast-paced game that gives opponents a lot of possessions.

They lag off shooters at the perimeter and have been absolutely crushed inside by unlikely players who are far from offensive juggernauts i.e. Kendrick Perkins.

Cause for concern: severe

A healthy Bynum makes the Lakers the best team in the NBA without any question. Having Ariza as an option at the 2/3 spots gives LA another specialist in a role they need.

Without either of these guys, LA is going to get worked by the Garnetts and Duncans of the world. And if you're saying that they are only two of those guys, LA will also get worked by the Zydrunas Ilgauskases of the world.

And there are several similar players in the NBA.


Sound off in our Clublakers.com forums.


    Best NBA Prospects Still in March Madness

    NBA logo

    Best NBA Prospects Still in March Madness

    Jonathan Wasserman
    via Bleacher Report

    Cavs Clinch Playoffs After Pistons Lose to Rockets

    NBA logo

    Cavs Clinch Playoffs After Pistons Lose to Rockets

    Tim Daniels
    via Bleacher Report

    Kings Lock Stadium Doors Amid Protest of Police Shooting

    NBA logo

    Kings Lock Stadium Doors Amid Protest of Police Shooting

    Joseph Zucker
    via Bleacher Report

    Lonzo Held to 6 Points in Lakers Loss to Pelicans

    Los Angeles Lakers logo
    Los Angeles Lakers

    Lonzo Held to 6 Points in Lakers Loss to Pelicans

    Alec Nathan
    via Bleacher Report