The Lakers still let Trevor Ariza walk and sign Ron Artest, who’s motivated to get a ring and make Kobe work less on the defensive end. Perhaps the Lakers trade Jordan Farmar to Milwaukee for Amir Johnson.
Potential starters: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Garnett and Johnson. Reserves: Shannon Brown, Luke Walton, Sasha Vujacic and D.J. Mbenga.
Unlike Gasol, there would be no questions about KG’s toughness or coming up short in games. Their bench would still have question marks, but with Garnett and Kobe both commanding respect on both ends of the floor. Adding Artest would still make this one of the best defensive teams in the league.
The Lakers would fight their way through the West again, although Oklahoma City would still pose a threat. Let’s assume they would face Orlando or Cleveland in the NBA Finals. Since Orlando already lost in 2009, let’s look at Cleveland, shall we?
Two-time MVP LeBron James would have his way, but he’d have to rely on his teammates to bail him out because Kobe and KG would make it that much harder on Mo Williams, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Shaquille O’Neal to do what they do.
If the 2010 Celtics with KG beat the Cavs in five games during the Eastern Conference Semis and the 2010 Lakers nearly beat the Celtics twice in the regular season before the Finals, there’s no reason to believe that a Kobe-KG Lakers wouldn’t beat the Cavs in six games.
That’s two rings for the duo. So far we’ve proven that Garnett’s impact is similar to Pau Gasol’s, but would be somewhat greater on the defensive end. Now, on to 2010-11.