Carmelo Anthony to L.A? Comparing Lakers and Miami Heat Lineups
This morning has been filled with Carmelo Anthony buzz.
The Carmelo Anthony trade rumors of the last two, three months have become progressively more annoying and always involve scenarios that would not necessarily mean an NBA Title for the team that lands Denver's superstar.
Then the two time defending champion Lakers threw their name into the mix. The Lakers have proven they can win titles without Carmelo. What would they become with him?
How The Lakers Got Here
It seems weird for a team fresh off two NBA championships to be thinking about radically shaking up their roster. But for some reason, the Lakers as they are right now are not even the best team in their own conference.
With San Antonio and Dallas playing their best basketball in years and Oklahoma City's young core growing stronger and stronger, the Lakers may not be a guarantee to get out of the West let alone win their third NBA Title.
What Awaits Them In The NBA Finals
This year if the Lakers get back to the finals they will most likely see either the Boston Celtics or Miami Heat.
In the time since the Celtics game 7 loss, they added Shaq, Jermaine O'Neal to backup Perkins if he happens to go down to injury again. Also Delonte West will return for the playoff run giving the Celtics a better roster than Los Angeles.
If Not This Year, Then Soon
The Heat are not going anywhere anytime soon.
The Celtics and Spurs may find themselves at the top of the league for the rest of this season and maybe next, but the team that will dominate in the next five years plays in South Beach.
Teams will need to build their roster to defeat Miami's Big Three. The Lakers are beginning to realize this.
Taking a Page out Of The Spurs Playbook
Tim Duncan is 34 turning 35 in April. Kobe Bryant is 32.
Tim Duncan will probably be able to play until he's 40 whereas Kobe has until maybe 36.
Think about the open gym basketball at your local community rec center. There's always that massive 50+ year old guy who continues to clear out space and make four or five baskets a game allowing his team to stay on the court.
Take that same rec center and watch the guard play. The older guys will not be able to stay in front of the 20 year olds who come into the gym, but if they have a nice shot, they find themselves still competitive by draining threes over the frustrated 20 somethings.
For Kobe to continue playing, he has to become more Ray Allen and less, well, Kobe. The Spurs learned to transition Duncan from team superstar into effective role player. As good as Kobe Bryant still is, he needs to begin the switch if he wants to pass MJ's ring total.
Inability to make The Switch to a Gasol-Bynum Team
The answer is not to make this Pau's team or Bynum's team and have Kobe be the second or third option.
Bynum has not proven he can be a dominant big man on a consistent basis. Pau Gasol as the go to guy was a decent, but not a playoff threat Memphis Grizzlies team. Gasol as the main option with an aging Bryant does not equal finals victory over the Heat in three years.
Since they don't have an electrifying young point guard or a scoring small forward, it makes sense for the Lakers to pursue Carmelo.
How They Would Get Carmelo
The reports so far are that the Lakers would send Andrew Bynum to Denver for Carmelo, but Denver would send some high contract dead weight back to Los Angeles to clear up their cap space.
The Lakers would probably send away Bynum, Matt Barnes, and some other piece to make the numbers work and receive Melo and Al Harrington's bloated contract.
New Starting Lineup
Point Guard: Derek Fisher
Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant
Small Forward: Carmelo Anthony
Power Forward: Lamar Odom
Center: Pau Gasol
How It Matches Up With The Heat: Point Guard
Derek Fisher versus Mario Chalmers
What we have learned over the years is Derek Fisher almost guarantees you one victory in a playoff series with his performance. He is not the best point guard in this league by any means, but he always seems to find a way to play at a high level down the stretch.
Mario hit the big shot for Kansas, but hasn't proven he can win a game for his team in the pros.
This year I'll still take Kobe. Next year, probably still take Kobe.
Year three? Wade. Four? Wade. Five? Wade. etc.
Wade and Kobe right now are tied at 25.4 ppg. Wade shares the floor with Lebron.
What Carmelo coming to L.A. would mean is Kobe would have more energy on defense to guard Dwyane Wade (Kobe is one of the leagues best defenders) and not have to worry about wearing down on offense.
Edge goes to Wade.
Lebron James is better than Carmelo.
However, upgrading to Carmelo from Ron Artest who so far is having a disappointing season allows the gap at small forward to shrink. Lebron averages 26.1 ppg this season, Melo averages 24.6.
That's a 1.5 ppg gap rather than what it is now at 17.9 ppg between James and Artest. When Artest plays lockdown defense, his low scoring output is acceptable, but this season he has lost a step.
Edge: Lebron James
Lamar Odom is more effective than Chris Bosh.
Bosh scores a few more ppg, Lamar Odom grabs a few more rpg. The difference comes in the matchup of them going at each other.
Since Bosh is not a physical big man, Odom guarding him is not an issue. However, Bosh guarding Odom creates an issue. Odom is quicker than Bosh and will provide a strong fourth option for the Lakers in this lineup.
Edge: Lamar Odom
The Heat lose the center matchup with nearly every team in the NBA.
If Haslem comes back and can play the way he normally does then Miami has a little more of a case, but with Pau Gasol in the middle the Lakers have this one.
Edge: Pau Gasol.
When Carmelo goes to the bench, bring in Ron Artest. When Kobe goes to the bench, bring in Ron Artest.
Wade and Lebron will have the unfortunate task of guarding Kobe and Melo. When the Lakers rest their stars, normally Miami will rest theirs. However, if they have the chance to be on the court without Kobe and Melo, they will have to try to score on Artest.
Artest may not be able to be totally lockdown for 30 minutes anymore, but put him in for 15-20 and he will cause problems. They will still have Steve Blake and Shannon Brown. Big men they will be very thin, but Miami does not exactly have the strongest low post presence.
Edge Lakers bench.
Verdict: Is This Team Better Than Heat?
Having a big three of Kobe, Melo, and Pau Gasol would put the Lakers in great position for the next five seasons. Toward the end when Kobe is 35/36 the Heat may finally pass them, but this lineup would put Kobe in position to win two to three more rings if they met up with the Heat in the finals.
But, They Would Be No Guarantee to Win This Year Against Celtics
This new team would actually be vulnerable against the Celtics roster.
Putting Pau Gasol and Odom in charge of handling Perkins, Garnett, Shaq, Big Baby Davis, Jermaine O'Neal, and Erden would be a nightmare. Say Pau or Odom get into foul trouble, then you insert... Joe Smith to try and stop the bleeding?
Rondo still excels far beyond Fisher/Blake and Ray Allen always has that one night when his shooting wins a game. Carmelo can score more than Artest, but he is not a great defender. Pierce would be able to score more points and even though Melo would most likely finish with 25-30, Pierce would be close behind.
Bench Celtics have Nate Robinson and Delonte West to go up against Shannon Brown and Luke Walton.