Los Angeles Lakers: 10 Things We've Learned This Preseason
The journey for a three peat has begun for Kobe Bryant and friends.
This offseason, the Los Angeles Lakers added hungry veterans in Steve Blake, Matt Barnes, and Theo Ratliff to help keep the fire burning. It's not like captains Bryant and Derek Fisher need much help doing that though.
Two preseason games have already concluded. The Lakers lost 92-111 to the Minnesota Timberwolves and 88-92 to FC Barcelona.
Here are 10 things we've learned from the preseason so far:
10. The Lakers Just Don't Care About The Preseason
Well, at least Kobe doesn’t.
Kobe told the media after the Barcelona game, "(The other starters) were going back in anyway and I wanted to go back in and do some more exercise."
Yes, he just called it exercise.
The vast majority of the team hasn't even played close to their potential.
It’s the preseason, and they’re the NBA Champions.
Preseason doesn’t matter to them, and why should it?
As long as they manage to secure the first seed in the Western Conference, the regular season shouldn’t mean much either to a team with a combined 23 rings. That is not even including Phil Jackson.
Speaking of not caring....
9. It's Lamar Odom's Favorite Time Of The Year
Lamar Odom’s intensity has been criticized in the past.
He occasionally has games where he disappears.
This preseason, Odom has averaged 14.5 points and 12 rebounds per game.
The time of year where almost every player gives the same effort, half-speed, Odom dominates because that is how he always plays.
Don’t get me wrong, Odom is one of the best sixth men in the league, an all-star talent, and was a key factor in the Lakers title run.
This is just a slightly more humorous way of saying he has had the best preseason out of any Laker, even though the reason is half true.
Speaking of the Laker bench....
8. "Bench Mob V2" Minus Lamar Odom Is Overrated
In both preseason games this year, each player on the bench had a negative +/- except for Derrick Caracter who had a +2 against Minnesota.
Of course, these struggles could be a result of the fact that they are playing preseason basketball, but you would think players like Steve Blake, Matt Barnes, and Theo Ratliff who are hungry for a ring, rookies in Derrick Caracter and Devin Ebanks who are fighting for playing time, and players in contract years like Sasha Vujacic have something to gain by playing their heart out.
Speaking of individual players on the bench….
7. Derrick Caracter Won't Make An Immediate Impact
Derrick Caracter played in beast mode during the Summer League averaging over 15 points and almost nine rebounds a game.
As fans, it's hard not to get caught up in the success and forget what talent level the production was against.
With Andrew Bynum possibly out until December, some believed Caracter was the answer to take the leftover minutes resulting from the injury.
In the preseason, Caracter is just one for 10 from the field.
Standing at only 6'9", it will take a while for Caracter to adjust to the height-talent combination in the NBA.
6. "The Machine" Is Out Of Commission For Good
In Sasha Vujacic's last contract year he blew up.
In the 2007-2008 season, he averaged 43.7 percent from down town which earned him a three year, 15 million dollar deal.
Optimists see Vujacic's expiring contract and hope he can regain that automatic stroke.
So far this preseason, Vujacic is buried in the depth chart.
As projected, he is the third guard off the bench behind Steve Blake and Shannon Brown.
It doesn't look like "The Machine" will even get a chance to reboot.
Speaking of the guard rotation....
5. Derek Fisher Is Ageless
Derek Fisher aka Mr. Clutch aka Iron Man is the Lakers best performer this preseason besides Lamar Odom.
He is shooting 57 percent from the field while averaging 12 points and two steals a game.
Fisher in an interview with ESPN was asked if he felt as good as he did at 25 years old and responded, "Physically I'm actually getting better. I mean, if you measured me running when I was 25, I might be faster than what I am now in terms of outright speed. Maybe dunking, too. But so many other things have improved, I'm actually stronger, better, more mobile..."
Speaking of improving players....
4. A Lighter Ron Artest Is Quicker And Sicker
Ron Artest showed why the Lakers were so willing to swap him and Trevor Ariza last offseason.
He shut down Paul Pierce in the Finals just after an Eastern Conference Finals where Pierce couldn’t be stopped.
Artest turned from an All-Star caliber defender early into an All-NBA defender by losing weight late last season.
This offseason, he wants to, and is on his way to drop even more weight and get down to 245 pounds.
This new, even lighter Artest has morphed from an All-NBA defender into an All-World defender.
He is averaging three steals a game in the preseason thus far.
3. Andrew Bynum Should Have Had Surgery Earlier
First, Andrew Bynum wanted to wait until after the World Cup to get knee surgery-mistake number one.
After that, he planned to wait a whole other week after the Championship ended until July 18th to be operated on-mistake number two.
Then, he delayed the surgery date again until July 28th-mistake number three.
Bynum may not only miss just the entire preseason because he delayed his surgery, but he may not play until December.
2. Three Point Shooting Will Continue To Be A Weakness
With no true "sharp shooters" on the team, the Lakers were inconsistent from beyond the arc last year.
This year looks like more of the same as they are four for 28 from three point land this preseason.
Eight of those misses are from Kobe Bryant who isn't fully healed from knee surgery yet.
Speaking of injuries....
1. Injuries Are The Lakers Biggest Opponents In 2010
No, none of those teams are the Lakers biggest obstacle in between them and a three peat.
Injuries may be the only thing that can hold them back.
With Bynum not being able to play until who knows when, and Kobe still recovering from knee surgery while still having a jacked up finger, injuries are already affecting the Lakers 2010 season.
If Bryant and Bynum are 100 percent healthy by June, which is easier said than done, banner number 17 is as good as gold.