During the regular seasons final days of fiasco and bizarre closing, the Lakers managed to keep their calm and lock up the first seed in the Western Conference, which guarantees home court advantage to any team in the West.
The starting five for the current Lakers have been consistent since the arrival of Pau Gasol. Coach Phil Jackson has assembled a great starting five by including four players who have a strong three-point shooting ability, which is best suited for the triangle-offense play.
Fisher, though playing through an acute injury refuses to back down and rest because he knows how much another championship would mean for the team. He returned to the team that drafted him in 96' and where he played most of his career, after a short stint in Utah.
Lamar Odom has done the bidding of what Kobe has been asking for since he arrived in LA. Throughout the past seasons, Odom has been an inconsistent player, but now things are different. With consistent point production in double digits and rebounding numbers in double figures he has made himself another threat other Kobe on the floor. If Odom keeps this run going, contending teams will have difficulties containing him.
Radmanovic accepted the role of the pick-up guy, meaning he doesn't need to be as active on the offense so much but makes his presence known buy asserting himself in the assist and rebounding categories. Even though he is more of a offensive player, he is prepared to give up shot attempts for the "W".
Gasol has been nothing more than the missing piece for which the Lakers had been searching. Since the acquisition of Gasol the Lakers record has been 25-13, without any Bynum assistance. That stat has more than spoken for itself to reveal how the 7-footer has brought more than double-double averages; he brought a presence to show the Lakers are a all-round threat on both sides of the court.
Kobe Bryant, the unofficial MVP to date, has totally turned away for the events of the early season. He wanted to be traded if management didn't do anything to help him push for another title. Did management hear his words? Yes indeed, and his teammates are doing more than expected.
Kobe has evolved into a new player. The Kobe of old would not pass to a Bynum in the low post if the game was on the line nor would he look for a pass if he was doubled. In short, Kobe realized that he can't do this on his own. Help from Fisher, Odom, Radmanovic and the newly added Gasol, Kobe trusts his teammates rather than that 40-foot jumper in the 4th quarter.
His scoring stats may have been lower but his growth as a legitimate leader on this team has boosted all the players, even those on the bench. Kobe used to always be on the court, but we have recently witnessed him on the bench cheering for his teammates. LeBron made it official by admitting himself that KB24 deserves the MVP honors due to the fact he made himself a captain rather than just a point-scoring machine.
Denver is their first trip in the playoff marathon. Players like Iverson, Anthony and Camby are going to be threats LA must contain. The series will be interesting, but I see the LA winning in five games.