The defending Champion Los Angeles Lakers made some key changes to there bench this season. This article is going to analyze the projected roster going into the 2010-2011 season. I will be grading each player on the team (except for the rookies).
I will be grading each player on a traditional A-F ranking
A - Tier 1 player (The elite players in the league)
B - Great player, not a super star. (Most teams starting 5)
C - Average player (Exactly that, nothing special about them, role players)
D - Below average (Role players, but 2nd to 3rd string)
F - Poor quality player (Bench warmers, will see very minimal minutes)
Derek Fisher: I wish I could say something like, "Like aged wine, Fisher is only getting better" ... but the truth of the matter is, "Little Rock" is on the decline. He is getting older, and his play has changed a lot. He is still clutch, a great locker room presence, and the co-leader of the Lakers, which is why the Lakers resigned him to a 3 year deal.
Derek Fisher - (6-1, 210 lbs) 35 years old, turning 36 this month.
Years Pro: 14
NBA Stats: 9 PPG, 3.2 APG, 2.2 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 40 % FG, 37% 3's
OVERALL GRADE : B-
Kobe Bryant: There is not much to say about this guy, other then greatness, and winner. His stats and accomplishments throughout his time in the NBA are better then anyone still active. He has the heart of a champion, and the dedication and work ethic that keep him on top of his game, and on top of the NBA.
Kobe Bryant: (6-6, 205) Turning 32 this month.
Years pro: 14
NBA Stats: 25.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.7 APG, 1.5 SPG, 45% FG, 34% 3's
Coming off a minor knee surgery, we should expect to see the same Kobe Bryant that started off the season last year.
OVERALL GRADE : A+
Ron Artest: aka - Ron Ron, or MC Ron Ron as of late, is a pit bull on the defensive end, though he has lost a step (or two) since his "Lock Down" days. It didn't look like it when the Lakers played Denver, and he completely shut down Carmelo Anthony though. Hopefully Ron can take some better shots this year, and not look so confused in the triangle, while managing to thank his psychiatrist, and yell out "Queens Bridge".
Ron Artest - (6-8 , 260 lbs) 30 years old, going to be 31 this season
Years Pro: 10
NBA Stats: 15.8 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 3.2 APG, 2.0 SPG, 42% FG, 34% 3's
OVERALL GRADE: B
Pau Gasol - Looking at the picture, says it all. Yes "Teen Wolf" your team was number one last season, eliminating Boston in the NBA Finals, to win back-to-back NBA Championships. Pau got his chance to redeem himself from the 2007-2008 Finals, where he was bullied, and beat up on, by Bostons front court. He then took a whole lot of criticism about "being soft" and not being able to bang down low with the big boys. During the 2008-2009 Finals, he proved himself, by playing great defense on Dwight Howard, and again in the 2009-2010 Finals, by playing tremendous basketball to help the Lakers win in 7 games.
Pau Gasol - (7-0, 250 lbs) 30 years old.
Years Pro : 9
NBA Stats: 18.8 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 3.2 APG, 1.7 BPG, 52% FG, 74% FT
OVERALL GRADE: A+
Andrew Bynum: Hopefully this year, is better then the last 5. This kid has tremendous potential. He has a post game, can finish with either hand, has a face up game, can shoot free throws, is a beast on defense, BUT IS PRONE TO INJURIES. (some given to him by team mates) He has not had an injury free season, since entering the NBA. Will this be the year for the gentle giant to stay healthy? I certainly hope so.
Andrew Bynum: (7-0 , 285 lbs) 22, turning 23 this season.
Years Pro : 5
NBA Stats: 15 PPG, 8.3 RPG, , 1 APG, 1.4 BPG, 57% FG, 73% FT
OVERALL GRADE : B+
(If he has a break out season, and stays healthy, he will be an "A" player.)
Having Phil Jackson on the Lakers bench, is almost like having a 6th man on the floor at all times. He is the drive behind much of the Lakers success since taking the Head Coach position.
In the 19 years he has been head coach he boast a mind blowing 11 NBA Championships. His winning percentage as a coach is .705. So it is safe to say, that when being coached by Jackson, your almost guaranteed to win 70% of your NBA games, IMPRESSIVE, I think so.
He led the Bulls to there 72-10 Record - Current record since 1996
He led the Lakers to there 16-1 Playoff Record - Record which is the best in HISTORY.
He also led the 1999-2000 Lakers to there second best record in franchise history, winning 67 games, while coming up 2 games short of the franchise record of 69 games (1971-1972).
He led the Bulls to TWO 3 peats', and some say if Jordan didn't take his "mini retirement" the Bulls could have won 8 straight.
He led the Lakers to there 2nd 3 peat (in history) .
He has made 3 straight trips to the finals 2007-2010 while snagging back to back titles and is poised to go out with a bang and try to 3-peat for the 4th time in his career.
Yes, Phil Jackson is a winner. Not to mention the 2 rings he has a former player.
That rounds out the starting 5 + coach for the Defending Champs
Let's reflect shall we.
Since coming to the NBA, Kobe Bryant, in his 14 years, has been to the Finals 7 times, and the playoffs 13 times, while bringing home 5 NBA Championships.
Led by the Zen Master, Phil Jackson, the Lakers are trying to complete 2 things this year. Help Phil win his 12th NBA Championship, and help Kobe win his 6th, anything else, would be considered a disappointment.
Can they do it? These next slides rounding out the roster says, yes they can!
Lamar Odom - aka Mr. Inconsistent, aka Mr. Kardashian, aka "The Candy Man"..Which ever you prefer is fine, as long as you don't forget this guy can play ALL 5 positions, effectively. People thought of him, as the next coming of Magic Johnson, but he never lived up to the hype. He has been a pretty inconsistent player most of his career. With his height, weight and full potential, he is a defensive match up nightmare, although we rarely are blessed to be graced by this full potential, we can only hope that playing on the USA team will bring some consistency to Lamar, and the 2nd team.
Lamar Odom - (6-10 , 230 lbs) 30 years old, going to be 31
Years Pro: 11
NBA Stats: 14.6 PPG , 8.9 RPG, 4.1 APG, 1.0 SPG, 1.0 BPG, 46% FG, 31% 3's
OVERALL GRADE: B+
(He could start on EVERY NBA team, EXCEPT the Lakers)
Steve Blake - Let's take a second to welcome one of the newest Lakers.
Last season, on the last game of the season, Steve Blake dropped his first triple double, against? YES , the Lakers. Fitting Mitch Kupchak signed him in the off season, isn't it? That performance is what you will most likely be seeing on a nightly basis, as Steve Blake was brought in to reduce the load off of Derek Fisher. Steve Blake has never been on a championship contending team before, so this should entice him to elevate his game.
Steve Blake - (6-3 172 lbs) is 30 years old.
Years Pro: 6
NBA Stats: 7.5 PPG, 4.1 APG, 2.1 RPG, 40% FG, 39% 3's, 77% FT
OVERALL GRADE: C+
(should go up to a B- by the end of the season)
Shannon Brown - Mr. UPS, "What can Brown, do for you". He plays most of the game above the rim, literally. If you have not watched this young man play, he has a highlight reel of spectacular dunks. He is a fan favorite, and thanks to Mitch Kupchak, he is now officially a Los Angeles Laker again.
This link is highlights of Shannon Browns massive dunks:
Shannon Brown - (6-4 , 210 lbs) 25 years old.
Years Pro: 4
NBA Stats: 5.5 PPG, 43% FG, 33% 3's, 75 % FT
OVERALL GRADE : C+
(If he was a starter, his stats would be in the 19 PPG mark, and he would be a solid B player)
Matt Barnes - Most LA fans remember Mr. Barnes as the person who tried to make Kobe flinch. He is a scrappy perimeter defender, good slasher, and a decent spot up 3-point shooter. He started last year for Orlando, but now he is coming off the bench for the Lakers. He is a very intense and emotional player, and that can either prove to be a good thing (Ron Artest) or a bad thing. I think the "Zen Master" can handle him. Barnes can play and guard both the 2 and 3 spot. He will fit into the triangle offense, perfectly. Thank you Mitch Kupchak
Matt Barnes - (6-7 ,226 lbs) 30 years old.
Years Pro: 6
NBA Stats: 7.2 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.8 APG, 43% FG, 32% 3's, 72% FT
OVERALL GRADE: C+
Sasha Vujacic - The self proclaimed "Machine" ...which quite frankly has been out of order the last 2 seasons. He played a major role in the 2007-2008 playoff run the Lakers had, and since then has been the most inconsistent of the entire 2nd unit.
Video of the playoffs where Sasha might have ended his career as a Laker.
Sasha Vujacic - (6-7, 205 lbs) 26 years old.
Years Pro : 5
NBA Stats: 5.0 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 1.2 APG, 39% FG, 37% 3's, 88% FT
OVERALL GRADE: C-
Luke Walton - Well, Luke's 2010-2011 season might already be over. He suffered a back injury early in the 2009-2010 season. There has been no date, yet for surgery, but it is said that he is likely to miss the entire season if he undergoes the surgery. Luke will be missed coming off the bench for the 2nd unit, as he is a great facilitator, and a decent spot up shooter.
Luke Walton - (6-8 , 235 lbs) 30 years old.
Years Pro: 6
NBA Stats: 5.5 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 2.5 APG, 44% FG, 33% 3's, 72% FT
OVERALL GRADE: C-
Theo Ratliff: Ratliff has played for 8 teams in 15 NBA seasons
He is a defensive specialist, and led the league in blocks per game in 2001, 2003 and 2004. Yes, he is old, but he is definitely an upgrade over the gargoyle (DJ MBenga)
Theo Ratliff: (6-10, 235 lbs) 37 years old.
Years Pro: 15
NBA Stats: 7.3 PPG, 2.5 BPG, 5.8 RPG, 49% FG, 70% FT
OVERALL GRADE : D
Mitch Kupchak hit the lotto with the two second round draft picks. These two kids can ball.
No. 43 in the draft - Devin Ebanks
This is High School footage of him, if he can bring this with him to the NBA, he is a sure winner.
No. 58 in the draft - Derrick Caracter
This is High School footage of Caracter
Both rookies are expected to be signed.
The picture featured in this slide is my prediction for the 2010-2011 Champions.
With the addition of Blake, Barnes, Ratliff, Re-signing Fisher, Brown, and the 2 golden tickets (Rookies) General Manager Mitch Kupchak has had a very busy off season. If the roster stays intact, the Lakers are projected to have a 12 man roster, plus the two rookies.
Grades are as follows:
Derek Fisher: B-
Kobe Bryant: A+
Ron Artest: B
Pau Gasol: A+
Andrew Bynum: B+
Lamar Odom : B+
Steve Blake: C+
Matt Barnes: C+
Shannon Brown: C+
Sasha Vujacic : C-
Luke Walton: C-
Theo Ratliff: D
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Thanks for your time in reading it.