The Lakers have quite a problem at their hands.
Who will start at small forward?
It was announced during camp that forward Metta World Peace (formerly known as Ron Artest) will be coming off the bench in his third season as a Laker. Also announced were the three candidates for the job. They are sophomore Devin Ebanks, Matt Barnes and Luke Walton (?).
Luke Walton has been a disappointment to say the least, so it is clear to almost anyone that the race is truly between Matt Barnes, a defensive specialist, and Devin Ebanks, a lengthy wing with a Trevor Ariza-like playing style.
Many think Matt Barnes' experience should easily land him the spot, but I say no.
Matt Barnes is an excellent perimeter defender with a reliable shooting touch. He is a gifted small forward.
Devin Ebanks is what the Lakers truly need in their starting lineup.
- Besides Andrew Bynum, age is everywhere in the Lakers' starting five. Derek Fisher cripples the team and it is clear that Kobe Bryant will need less playing time if he hopes to avoid injury.
- Athleticism is another hole the Lakers need to fill. With the departure of Shannon Brown, nobody—and I mean nobody—provides the athleticism they lack. Devin Ebanks does. Case in point...
- Devin Ebanks is an all-around better player than Matt Barnes. The former UCLA star, to me, has seemed slow throughout his tenure with the Lakers; not to mention a subpar shooting percentage since coming back from injury. Devin Ebanks, meanwhile, is athletic, a good perimeter defender, with the athleticism and youth the Lakers need.
There isn't a doubt in my mind that Devin Ebanks is the best option for the Lakers at small forward (coming from a guy who has been waiting for a good wing to come to the Lakers for more than a decade). Devin Ebanks is that good wing.
And that's that.