The Los Angeles Lakers appear to be the breakout team of the NBA this season, climbing their way to third in the West and only a half game behind Phoenix in the division. Kobe seems to be trusting his teammates and Andrew Bynum looks like he could be the real deal. The Lakers could surprise everyone and represent the West in the NBA finals this year...
All of this was true until Andrew Bynum hurt his knee; now he will be out for at least 8 weeks. The once electrified Lakers will soon find themselves in the middle to lower part of the Western conference playoff hunt and looking at another first round exit, most likely to the hands of the Phoenix Suns.
The Lakers have been playing great basketball as of late. Kobe Bryant has behaved like a true team player, trusting his supporting cast to get the job done. Now with Bynum's absence, however, you will see the Lakers return to their old playing ways. As was made evident by their most recent game, a 123 to 121 victory over the Sonics in overtime, the Lakers will revert and rely on Kobe scoring around 40 points a night while taking 40 shots a night. The Bynumless Lakers will no longer have a dominant threat inside, which means teams like the Spurs, Suns, and Mavericks—once more evenly matched with the Lakers—will run them over as if they don't even belong on the same court.
As we have seen in the past, when Kobe doesn't trust his teammates and when he thinks the entire game rests on his shoulders, the Lakers are an average basketball team at best.
As much as I love L.A. Bynum's injury could not have come at a worse time. Without him in the line up for the next 8 weeks, the Lakers will drop to the 6th seed in the West. Even if they get into a groove before the playoffs, the road will prove too hard to get them all the way to the NBA finals. It looks like Bynum's injury could lead to another early exit from the playoffs and possibly another trade demand by the league's best player.