Rockets @ Lakers Opening Tip-Off
After three games of the new and hyped 2010 NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers are only one of three teams to still boast an undefeated record (the other two being the Atlanta Hawks and New Orleans Hornets). Their new bench, consisting of Steve Blake and Matt Barnes, has proved very useful and has added a huge amount of depth and youth to an aging Lakers team.
Pau Gasol had a week to remember, averaging 25 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and two blocks in the last three games. We all knew Gasol was an amazing player with great footwork down low, but in these first three games, he has looked like the star of the team and the best PF in the league.
Lamar Odom also stepped up this week, making Lakers fans completely forget about the absence of Andrew Bynum. Odom has really stepped to the plate and answered the call, averaging 16 points, 13 rebounds and three assists in the last three games. Look for Odom to really step up the rest of November and into December as Bynum makes his recovery.
The bench showed how much depth this Laker team really has, with the bench as a whole averaging 32 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists during those last three games. The three standouts on this bench are undoubtedly PG Steve Blake, SG Shannon Brown and SF Matt Barnes. The three together have accounted for most of this benches production, averaging 24 points per game. This bench is going to be a huge asset going up against teams like the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic where bench production will be ideal.
Here are some things that we learned after three games:
1. Steve Blake and Matt Barnes Are the Real Deal
These two guys are very young and yet very good. They bring a lot of athleticism and youth to this Lakers club. They seemed to jell very well with the Lakers and they fit right into the system. The chemistry between them and the starters on the court made you think they were playing together for years. They just feel right.
2. Kobe is Making Great Progress
He obviously isn't 100%, but he seems just fine and is making great progress. In the first three games, he has averaged 24 points, six rebounds, and three assists. These numbers are actually a little bit under his norm, but what can you expect with the limited minutes. Expect Kobe to be back at 100% by the end of the month.
3. Pau Gasol Taking Over?
Is Kobe now the second man to Pau rather than it being the other way around? Has Pau become the star of the team? Well with these first three games it sure seems like it. As I said earlier, Pau looks like the best PF in the league right now, and with Kobe aging, Pau could very well take Kobe's place. Do I think it will happen, not really, but there is a chance. We will all find out once Kobe is healthy and the season has progressed a bit more.
It has been a great opening week for Pau, Kobe, and the 3-0 Lakers. Look for Pau to continue his success this week, and also look for Kobe to continue to progress. I would also like to see Odom continue to step up in place of Bynum. Also watch for Black and Barnes as they continue to grow in this Lakers system.
MY LAKERS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: PAU GASOL
Upcoming Weeks Schedule:
Tue. Nov. 2nd vs. Grizzlies 10:30pm est.
Wed. Nov. 3rd @ Kings 10:30pm est.
Fri. Nov. 5th vs. Raptors 10:30pm est.
Sun. Nov. 7th vs. Trail Blazers 10:30pm est.