The Los Angeles Lakers are going to be defending their title in the 2009-2010 season. All is good in the world of purple and gold.
They have made moves during this offseason that arguably have improved their already championship-caliber team. By switching Trevor Ariza for Ron Artest and finally setting Lamar Odom's re-signing in stone, they are the team to beat coming into next season.
Like I said earlier, all is good in Lakers world. Yes, no?!?
In my point of view it seems like it. But in my point of view, I can also see some nagging problems the Lakers need to fix, or at least strengthen the area(s) where they are lackluster.
Giving up Solid Leads
Watching plenty of Lakers games last season and the season before, I had to share the numerous frustrations that every Lakers fan around the world felt every time the Lakers let a team back from the brink of defeat into a fighting chance at winning the game.
I swear, if the Lakers are going to put me through another Boston Celtics Final comeback type of game, I'm going to curl myself up into a ball, roll myself to my room, lock the door, and deprive myself from human interaction.
The Lakers bench is decent compared to other benches around the NBA, especially with their leader back, Lamar Odom. But decent isn't good enough to repeat.
The Lakers need players like Sasha Vujacic, Jordan Farmar, Shannon Brown, and Josh Powell to step up their games.
Vujacic has had to find his "machine"-like touch again and Farmar has to focus on staying healthy, especially with the injury he endured during last season's play.
Brown and Powell were pleasant surprise last season. Brown gave Lakers fans consistency behind the arc and excited them with his athletic dunks, while Powell grabbed rebounds and offered a pretty good mid-range game into the Lakers offense.
Even though these two players exceeded my expectations, they still need to get better. Every team in the league has the whole Lakers team glued onto their dart boards, aiming for the Lakers' leader's head, Kobe Bryant, replacing the bull's eye spot.
Lamar Odom's Inconsistency
The Lakers-Odom ordeal is part of the past now. Odom is back and ready to defend his lone title with the Lakers.
The re-signing of Odom is a plus for the Lakers. Last season he averaged Sixth Man worthy numbers: 11.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.
Odom is a major factor in the Lakers' championship success. They are almost unstoppable when Odom brings his game with him. If he's having trouble, though, the Lakers go down a few levels and give their opponents the opportunity to get a W.
Andrew Bynum's Injury/Foul Troubles
Everyone can agree that Andrew Bynum is not the same spectacular Bynum that he was before his injury last season.
Before his injury, Bynum was starting to heat up, even out-playing Kobe Bryant during a few of the Lakers' regular season games last season. For instance, in a game against the Los Angeles Clippers last season, Bynum posted Wilt Chamberlain-worthy numbers with 42 points and 15 rebounds.
When he came back for the playoffs later that season, he had problems staying out of foul trouble. He attracted fouls like doughnuts attract cops or like supermodels attract guys.
Bynum needs to stay healthy for an entire season. He also needs to improve his post game and his mid-range jump shot.
All in All...
The offseason is still in process, meaning they still have time to improve. The Lakers' competition for the Larry O'Brien trophy has gotten a whole lot stronger than the previous season.
It will not be an easy 2009-2010 season if the Lakers want to stay on the top of the NBA mountain. Far from it.
Which supports the reason why the Lakers need to improve any and every which way possible as their bid for a repeat lives on.