5 Lakers Who Will Keep Kobe Bryant from Winning His Sixth Ring in 2012
It's well-known that Kobe Bryant is one ring behind the G.O.A.T. Michael Jordan, and that can't sit well with him. Bryant is a winner, and if he doesn't win, he considers it "a wasted year of my life." There are obstacles besides his opponents that Kobe has to fight to win it all, though.
There are always a few weak links on any team, but the Lakers have some glaring ones that will significantly impact how well the Lakers do in the playoffs and if they go all the way.
Every player has a weakness that can impact the team, but there are five in particular who are affecting the outcome more than others, and if they don't do something soon, they'll keep Kobe from joining MJ at six chips.
The point-guard position has been a point of contention all season. The Lakers have gone from Morris to Fisher to Goudelock to Blake to Sessions. Prior to the arrival of Sessions, there was no reason that Blake should have been playing over rookie Goudelock.
G-Lock has better numbers all the way around than Blake. Coach Brown let Goudelock know it's a matter of experience and that's why Blake is playing over him, but Blake's minutes will keep Kobe from winning a sixth. Blake has numbers that are only slightly better than Fisher's were, but that's only part of the story.
Being a veteran means that you have experience, but it also means you're getting up there in years. Blake doesn't have the speed to compete with these young men like Durant, Westbrook and Derrick Rose.
His speed and inability to get the ball to open players, along with his low shooting percentage, will hurt the Lakers' chances.
Metta World Peace
Lately, Metta World Peace has been putting up decent numbers, but those can't be counted on. He's averaging 6.1 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2 assists. In his past life, Ron Artest was a fierce defender, but that man is merely a shadow.
In his first year with the Lakers, World Peace (then Artest) was scoring 11 PPG, which was his lowest career average, until now.
He's shooting 35 percent and 28 percent from the three, both of which are career lows as well. He's also getting about 25 minutes per game.
All these stats add up to one thing: Metta's on the floor for half the game and is the least productive he's ever been. In order for Kobe to get a sixth ring, and Metta to get a second, he's going to need to channel Ron Artest and start hitting those jumpers or better yet, pass.
Troy Murphy was brought on the team to help deepen the bench, which he has, sort of. He's a solid player who can fill in at the three, four or five (if need be), but the problem with him is his aggressiveness.
Both Murphy and Josh McRoberts were brought in during the off-season for the same purpose, and yet McRoberts is doing it more efficiently than Murphy.
The most noticeable thing is that McRoberts is much more aggressive than Murphy is. When McRoberts is in the game, you not only notice him for his knee-high socks, but also because he's aggressive and goes to the ball; he works for his shots.
Murphy is more content to get open and clap for the ball. Their assists and rebounds are nearly identical, and Murphy averages one more point a game than McRoberts, which can be attributed to the fact that he also averages more minutes.
McRoberts has a higher shooting percentage at 49 percent and hasn't shot any three pointers, because he knows big men on this team are most useful inside. If Murphy continues to get 17 minutes a game and average a meager three points, he will keep Kobe from getting a sixth ring.
Before you freak out about Bynum being on this list, let me explain. Bynum is arguably the second most important player on this team. He can make or break a win. When the Lakers get the ball inside to him, they win.
However, lately it's clear that something is going on with the 24-year-old veteran. He has been shooting 3-pointers, getting benched, missing meetings with management, receiving undisclosed fines and giving away part of the game plan.
As was reported on ESPN 710's Max and Marcellus, Bynum told a reporter that he would not be playing in their game against the New Jersey Nets, when Brown had told them he was a game-time decision only hours before, likely to make the Nets prepare for the big man's presence.
Bynum can truly be the difference between a Lakers championship and another scratch season eliminating them in the early rounds of the playoffs. Luckily, there is still a month of regular season to be played, so Bynum has time to get his act together and play like the All-Star that everyone knows he is.
Coach Mike Brown
It's rare that I ever blame a coach for anything. After all, they can only do so much. If players don't execute, games aren't won, but in this case Brown is seemingly causing problems that will hurt Kobe's chances at getting a sixth ring.
The first and most obvious thing Mike Brown is doing wrong is not caring about wins. Brown said,
I've never put any goals like that on our team in terms of how many games we need to win or where we need to finish. Obviously, it would be great to finish first if it happens. I don't think that's of the utmost importance because I felt the season was going to be wacky. I just wanted us to be at our best at the end. If we're at our best at the end, I really don't care if we play at home or on somebody else's court. We'll get it done.
The Lakers have been awful on the road this season and amazing at home (until this last homestand at least) so it's clear that wins do matter.
In a recent interview with Steve Mason and John Ireland on 710 ESPN, forward Matt Barnes said,
It's been tough you know (laughs) for me personally. I went from not being in the rotation to not playing to starting to having Ron [Metta World Peace] replace me to not really playing and now my minutes are been picking up. It's kind of been a roller coaster year to say the least for everybody...
You've seen that Goudelock is out of the rotation now which was somebody who was playing well for a short amount of time... He does communicate but it changes from time to time. (laughs) Some nights, from the bench, you know, we'll play significant minutes, other nights we won't. It's just hard. It's just kind of how it's been.
There's been a lot of guys complaining about that because as a player the one thing you ask is kind of for consistency, you know they want consistency as a player, they want from us consistency on the court, but I think as a player all we really ask for is consistency as far as minutes and knowing what we're getting into before we get in situations.
That's a huge quote, but so revealing in several areas. The first is that the players don't know what to expect. There's no consistency so it's hard to get into a flow.
The next thing is that players aren't really understanding the rotation. As Barnes mentioned, Goudelock was taken out of rotation after playing well, not for any real reason.
Here's where I cut Brown some slack. He's new to this group, there was virtually no offseason and he's trying to teach them a new offense. However, this doesn't mean that he can just do things without explaining them. These are grown men who are professional athletes, not children who don't understand what's going on.
Brown doesn't need to ask the players their opinions about the offense, but communicating with them and telling them the game plan is key. If this doesn't happen, then Brown is the biggest obstacle between Kobe and his sixth ring.