NBA Camp: 10 Things the Lakers Must Do to Hang With the Heat
Los Angeles Lakers’ owner Dr. Jerry Buss, and his General Manager, Mitch Kupchak, have created the NBA’s best franchise not by accident but from hard work and a commitment to winning.
This summer’s offseason is no different. As in past summers, the Lakers continue not sitting pat but are making moves to better their championship team. All with the single goal of a three-peat.
But, with all the talk of the “Super Team” now assembling in Miami, the Lakers must keep at least an eye on what the Heat are doing, and most importantly, how they matchup should the two teams meet for the championship next June.
The Lakers did this exact thing last summer, with the signing of Ron Artest. That move was strictly a NBA Finals move. The Lakers’ management knew that a return to the Finals meant going up against a small forward with size.
Dr. Buss and Kupchak looked at their roster and saw only Kobe Bryant and Trevor Ariza as capable defenders at that position. But the East had LeBron James and Paul Pierce.
The Lakers needed size and therefore, made the Artest move.
This summer, the Lakers continue to improve and make changes and now, must do so with the thought that they might see the Miami Heat in the Finals.
So, what moves and what things should the Lakers do to compete with the Heat?
Here are 10 suggestions.
#10- Don’t trade Lamar Odom
Don’t trade Lamar Odom.
There has been a lot of talk about trading Odom. But to matchup against a possible meeting versus the Heat, that is a terrible move.
The Lakers need Lamar’s size and fit with this team against the Heat. He can cover Chris Bosh and spell relief for Pau Gasol in covering the newly acquired Heat players.
Gasol has proved he can handle Bosh on both ends of the floor, but the Lakers can also use Odom to defend Bosh.
That is why Lamar is so vital. No trade the Lakers could make, except for say Carmelo Anthony, could come close to what Lamar brings versus the Heat.
#9- Fill Remaining Needs
Fill remaining needs.
The Lakers still need an outside shooter, especially with the Heat inking sharpshooter Mike Miller to a long term deal.
Either Sasha Vujacic has to return to his 2008 form or the Lakers need to add an expensive free agent long-range shooter.
Additinally, the Lakers need to address the Backup Center position. The Lakers clear matchup advantage versus the Heat or any team, for that matter, is size and length.
That is why they are the team to beat.
They have Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol to play center. But with DJ Mbenga’s future as a Lakers backup center uncertain, the Lakers will need one. That means either resigning Mbenga or replacing him with another adequate and competent backup.
The Lakers must be smart in filling remaining roster spots while minimizing additions to their payroll.
#8- Re-sign Shannon Brown
Re-sign Shannon Brown.
The Lakers need his explosiveness, his energy, and his size at the two spot against the Heat.
Brown is a natural fit at the two, even though he played the point numerous times throughout last season.
That is simply because the triangle offense really doesn’t have a point guard but an initiator.
So, Brown can slide over now to the two and spell relief for Kobe.
That is key not only for wear and tear on Bryant, but also Brown is a solid defender. And, against the Heat, Brown can cover Wade, or at least slow him down.
It is critical the Lakers re-sign Brown and it appears they will.
#7- Let the Rookie Play
Let the Rookie play.
The Lakers took two solid players, Devin Ebanks, a 6’8” sophomore forward from West Virginia and Derrick Caracter, a 6’9” center/power forward from UTEP, in the second round of this summer’s draft.
And, after a successful summer league both players proved they both may make the Lakers squad.
But, the real jewel versus a potential matchup to keep up with the Heat is Ebanks. The rookie is a strong body and very able defender.
With both Dwyane Wade and LeBron James making Miami especially strong on the perimeter, the Laker will need that extra defender to go along with Kobe and Artest. Ebanks is the guy.
And, is it me, or does Ebanks resemble Trevor Ariza?
#6- Acclimate Steve Blake Quickly to the Triangle Offense
Acclimate Steve Blake quickly to the triangle.
Newly acquired point guard will backup Derek Fisher. But, count on Blake logging series minutes, especially during the regular season.
Coach Phil Jackson will really look to limit Derek Fisher’s minutes. That means Blake will need to learn the offense quickly.
He’s known as a heady player, so this should be easy for him.
A healthy Derek Fisher combined with a more than adequate backup in Blake will really solidify the point guard position for the Lakers, and if they run into the Heat, they may actually have a matchup advantage.
#5- Kobe’s Post-Up Game
Kobe’s post-up game.
Last summer, Kobe spent some time with former Houston Rocket and Hall of Famer, Hakeem Olajuwon.
Kobe needs to do the same thing again. He needs to get his post up game to the level that Michael Jordan displayed at the end of his career, especially with the Bulls.
The reason is Dwyane Wade.
While Kobe versus Wade is a close one on the perimeter, Kobe can clearly have the advantage in the post. Kobe is already one of the triangle’s post up options and against the Heat, this will be even more important.
Because getting Wade in foul trouble and/or off the floor will be very important. And, it will tire out Wade.
All good things against the Heat.
#4- Get Ron Artest More Involved in Offense
Get Artest more involved.
Only during games six and seven of the NBA Finals did the Lakers run plays for Ron Artest.
Phil Jackson and his staff need to be more focused on doing this during the regular season.
The reason is that the more involved in the triangle Artest becomes, especially as a post-up spot, the more difficult it will be for opposing players to handle him.
LeBron James would have to cover Artest in the post and that is where LeBron would seriously struggle. As with Kobe versus Wade, the real advantage would be for Artest to work LeBron in the paint, thus tiring the new Heat player out, getting him in foul trouble and best yet, off the court.
All advantages for the Lakers.
#3- Andrew Bynum Dominates any Heat Center
Andrew Bynum dominates any Heat center.
Look for the Phil Jackson to really continue to develop Bynum.
A healthy Bynum will be the key against the Heat. Miami simply has no answer.
So, a healthy and continuing to improve Bynum really is a must.
#2- Get Healthy
The Lakers control their own destiny against the Heat or any team. They possess the size and talent advantage to beat any team in a seven game serious.
But, they must be healthy.
This is why Health is the number one thing the Lakers can do to compete against the Heat.
The Lakers ended the 2010 regular season nearly devastated in injuries. It seem nearly each key player had at least one injury.
This summer, the most important thing the Lakers can do for their chance to three-peat is to show up at the start of the 2010-2011 season healthy.
That means surgery for Kobe Bryant’s knee and finger. It means a solid recovery from surgery for Andrew Bynum who already has had surgery on this knee after the NBA Finals. It means Lamar Odom and Ron Artest getting their injured fingers fixed. Even backup Luke Walton must address his chronic back injury once and for all.
The Lakers control their destiny, even against the Heat.
#1- Do Nothing
The Lakers are the defending NBA Champions and this is not by accident.
They have the world’s best player (sorry LeBron lovers but until the King wins a ring, he’s second best no matter what regular season hardware he picks up.)
With Phil Jackson, the Lakers have the best coach in any sport.
But, the Lakers have what no other team in the league has: size and length.
Until a team comes along that can matchup with the Lakers in the paint, Los Angeles will be hoisting more championship trophies for years to come.
The Lakers made the right offseason moves they needed to make already.
Phil Jackson returning as coach goes the furthest and beats any player move the Lakers could have made.
But the Lakers also made all the right moves by resigning Derek Fisher, snatching Steve Blake as a more than capable backup point guard, and drafting wisely, stealing two second round picks who have already proven in summer league their value.
The Lakers matchup great against the Miami Heat, so in my opinion, don’t need to do anything major.