What do you say about the team that has everything? The Lakers are loaded once again, and even though pundits will try to gurgitate the nonsense that Kobe Bryant has finally won titles “by himself” or something, we all know better. So with all due respect to the scrappy underdogs in Miami that the nation is sure to rally behind, the Lakers are the favorite to win it all again.
Sure, Andrew Bynum is out for a month recovering from knee surgery. But this team has overcome Bynum injuries ad nauseum and can do it again. Is it really a step down to Lamar Odom? With Odom at the ‘4’ and Pau Gasol in his prime at the ‘5’, no one is crying a tear over Bynum’s misfortune (except maybe anyone who has already drafted a team and took him early). Where should we be drafting Bynum? How about “we” just draft someone else this year and let “anyone else feeling daring” take him as a starting center. Of course, with every injury comes the added value. If you can snag Bynum as your third center, with a little patience you could have a powerhouse team by midseason. He’ll continue to slip down draft boards.
Odom is intriguing, as he pulled down nearly 10 rebounds a game last year, a number that could rise even more with Bynum out. Yes, Lamar will be a stud for the first month, but I wouldn’t burn too high a pick on him knowing that his minutes and production tend to fluctuate wildly when the Lakers are at full strength. Have full confidence in Bryant and Gasol, however, as first-round picks. Kobe may be nursing 12 different injuries that won’t go away, but the guy would put up numbers somehow if you removed his limbs. He knows no other way, and is a candidate to be drafted anywhere in the latter half of the first. Gasol is going late-first as well, and as long as he’s healthy it will pay off. Gasol grabbed a career-best 11.3 rebounds last year, and with the 3-4 assists he adds, plus strong percentages, there aren’t too many better centers out there.
There isn’t too much else on the roster to recommend, fantasy geeks. Ron Artest is no longer playable, despite his Finals performance. The world still winces every time he hoists a three, his steals were down to 1.4 per game last year, and he continues to brick free throws (68.8 percent in ’09-10). Oh, and the Lakers signed Matt Barnes in the offseason. Barnes will spell Artest and Kobe and is a nice waiver wire option should either miss time due to injury. As usual, the Laker point guard spot is one to avoid in fantasy. Derek Fisher and new face Steve Blake will likely split minutes down the middle, with Fisher playing late in close games so he can swish crazy three after crazy three when plays break down and the shot clock is expiring.
Bitter Celtics fan, signing off.
PG – Derek Fisher, Steve Blake
SG – Kobe Bryant, Shannon Brown
SF – Ron Artest, Matt Barnes
PF – Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom
C – Andrew Bynum (injured), Theo Ratliff
Up Next: Phoenix Suns