Los Angeles Lakers: Why You Can't Judge Them Until Andrew Bynum Returns

Jonathan AndradeContributor IIIDecember 27, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 25:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts during the game against the Chicago Bulls at Staples Center on December 25, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
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The Los Angeles Lakers have now started the season with two losses and many are already letting their minds wander about what the thorn in the Lakers’ side may be as well as a potential lottery pick that can be in the not-so-distant future for this struggling squad.

For most teams these kinds of rumors wouldn’t come up until midway through the season, but since the Lakers have such a following that solely thrives off any, and every, loss suffered by LA, the time to celebrate an underachieving season by Kobe and Co. is now.

After only four games, two of which were only preseason, fans across the nation are screaming about the change in tide happening in LA and how the Lakers are now the inferior team in the City of Angels.

The Lakers are still trying to find their identity with the players they do have after a nixed trade (we’re sure you’ve heard enough about it) and the departure of last year’s Sixth Man Award winner Lamar Odom.

With the change-up in roster, it’s no wonder the Lakers have managed to give away a game against one of the Eastern Conference’s elite teams, the Chicago Bulls, and lose to a mediocre Sacramento Kings team that they had beaten in nine of their last 10 meetings. 

With center Andrew Bynum still needing to sit out two more games for his suspension, it won’t be any time soon that the talks about the Lakers will turn back into playoff contender talks, but it’s not too distant either. 

The team has not been hitting on all cylinders by any means up to this point and it’ll take a few games after the return of Bynum for the fans to finally see what the Lakers have on the court.

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 19:  Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers turns as Brian Cook #34 of the Los Angeles Clippers falls during the game at Staples Center on December 19, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledg
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So far this year, newcomer Josh McRoberts has shown some potential in the starting lineup role. In his debut, he managed six points, eight rebounds and two assists and then missed most of the second game with an injury. Once Bynum returns, McRoberts will see his minutes coming off the bench, but should provide that spark the Lakers need while resting their go-to big men.

Also, both Metta World Peace and Matt Barnes saw significant minutes against Sacramento and showed exactly what they could do when they are on the court. Both made cases as to why they should be starting, but did so on different ends of the court.

World Peace showed his skills on the offensive end with 19 points, four rebounds and four assists in 29 minutes while Barnes showed some defensive prowess with three blocks in his 13 minutes on the court.

Once Bynum finds his way back into the starting lineup, his presence in the paint will change this Lakers look completely. During preseason he showed some aggressive moves on the offensive side of the ball while proving he can alter the opposing defenses game plan with him on defense.

A Laker team with Bynum would have had that extra edge to hold off the late comeback in the opener against the Bulls and had the presence in the paint to slow the rebounding clinic put on by a less-than-perfect DeMarcus Cousins of Sacramento.

Don’t expect a championship-caliber team to show up in his debut game at home against Denver on Saturday, but expect this team to slowly find their identity and hit full stride after 10 games.

Until then, the Lakers have to aim to be at .500 after those 10 games and will still be in line to make a move to go deep into the playoffs not too long after that.