Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers: Where Passion Meets Perfection
The defending NBA champions have kicked off the season on a transcendent note with their ever-so-high expectations remaining intact.
With a league-best 17-3 overall record and a current 10-game winning streak, the Los Angeles Lakers are undoubtedly the best team in the league today.
But how great could this team be?
The Lakers currently rank fifth in the league in scoring, dropping 104.4 points per night while giving their opponents only 95.3 PPG.
Although they're seventh in the league in opponents PPG, they lead the NBA in point differential (+9.10), opponent field-goal percentage (42.3 percent), opponent three-point percentage (29.5 percent), and rank second in defensive efficiency (96.6).
One of the reasons L.A. separates themselves from every other team in the NBA is due to the dominate presence of both 7'0" Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum in the paint.
These two stars combine to average the most rebounds per game amongst any starting duo in the NBA, grabbing 19.1 boards per game.
The extreme versatility that Gasol possesses forces opponents to place their starting power forward on the Spaniard. With a clear height advantage on practically every power forward in the league, Gasol uses his impressive shooting capabilities and overpowering physique to outmatch any opponent willing to defend him.
Twenty-two-year-old center Andrew Bynum also uses his incredible stature to have his way on the court. Most opponents are overwhelmed by the presence of Kobe Bryant and Gasol, allowing Bynum to draw a matchup against a lesser defender and benefit tremendously.
Averaging just a shade under 18 PPG, Bynum has quickly emerged as one of the elite centers in the league today (still with even more room for improvement).
While any other team would be grateful to just have the duo of Gasol and Bynum in their frontcourt, the Lakers also have the league's biggest offensive threat in Bryant.
Bryant currently ranks second in the NBA in scoring and steals, draining 28.8 PPG and grabbing 2.2 SPG, including 5.5 RPG and 4.1 APG.
In addition, No. 24 is one of only five players to average 20+ PPG, 5+ RPG, and 4+ APG on the season.
With 13 years of experience, an MVP Award, and four championship rings to go with it, Bryant is arguably the best leader and athlete in the NBA today.
Along with the league’s best offensive threat, the Lakers have forward Ron Artest, one of the biggest defensive threats in the NBA.
Artest won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award back in 2004 and is a four-time NBA All-Defensive Team athlete.
With a guy of such defensive caliber, the Lakers can rely on the 6'7", 260-pound forward to defend and challenge the most elite players in the NBA, ranging from LeBron James to Dwyane Wade.
Moreover, L.A.'s bench boasts one of the leading Sixth Man of the Year candidates in forward Lamar Odom.
Odom is posting 8.2 PPG, 8.5 RPG, and 4.3 APG in 30.4 MPG on the season and is as versatile as they come in the league. Standing 6'10", Odom has the wingspan of a 7-footer, the vision of a point guard, and a nose for the basketball.
Being on such a high-powered offensive unit, Odom's stats are a bit deflated from his career averages of 14.9 PPG, 8.8 RPG, and 4.2 APG in 36.3 MPG.
With one-fourth of the NBA season in the books, the most valuable franchise will continue to take their unmatched passion for the game of basketball and attempt to make history.
Who says the 2009 Los Angeles Lakers can't beat the '95-'96 Chicago Bulls historic 72-10 record?
Never say never.
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