Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Three Words Can Fix The Los Angeles Lakers Problem: Car…Mel…O…

With nearly three-fourths of the regular season in completion, there appears to be a new look for a team known for success in the last few seasons. Inconsistency is now more of the theme for the 2010-11 Los Angeles Lakers, no longer surrounded with the invisible aura that put fear in their opposition.

Their recent road trip started off with a bang with four straight wins, three against quality teams (New Orleans, Boston, New York). They followed that play up with a despicable loss to Orlando by thirteen, which was then supplanted by an even more disgraceful beat down at the hands of Charlotte by 20.

Despite having nearly the same roster since their first recent championship in 2009, the disparity of their play throughout the season is now starting to cost them in the standings. San Antonio is the clear favorite of the West and will most likely enter the post season at number one. Dallas is now holding the second spot and Oklahoma City is nipping at the heels of the Lakers in fourth place.

Why is seeding important for the Western Conference? The fourth place team will most likely go up against the New Orleans Hornets in the first round. While the Lakers have beaten the Hornets twice on the road this season, New Orleans currently hold the second best home record in the Western Conference and remain a dangerous first round opponent thanks to PG Chris Paul.

Regardless of how this season plays out, it’s obvious that the team needs to make a change to a roster that is using their previous credentials to intimidate opponents. That may work on feeble teams with no hope, but it will become their own demise when the rest of the best come to play the Lakers.

There is only one solution to this problem: get Carmelo Anthony.

Acquiring the superstar forward would come at a hefty price for the Lakers, but it’s a cost that can bring back some pretty big dividends. ESPN’s the Magazine’s Chris Broussard reported that there were rumors of Los Angeles sending Andrew Bynum to Denver for the former Syracuse star.

It’s easy to understand why the Lakers are timid on giving up their promising center; he’s still learning how to play the position and has a high ceiling of potential. At the young age of 23, Bynum will most likely have more years in the league in comparison to Anthony (who is 26).

Size is also key when it comes to success in the NBA. The big man is seven feet tall, 285 pounds with an affinity for swatting shots out of the paint and deceptively, overpowering post moves that leads to points. Those talents are hard to come by for a player of his stature.

That’s where the positives end for reasons why Los Angeles should keep Bynum over Anthony.

A big reason the team needs his services so bad is due to their shaky play. Aside from Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, the other parts just aren’t cutting it. That reason can be mostly attributed to Ron Artest, who’s poor play and lack of care or urgency to improve has been like a knife going into the team’s back. Acquiring the six foot eight inch, combo forward would help to give the team another scoring punch that they desperately need.

Imagine being an opposing coach and having to decide whether to live or die by Bryant, Gasol or Anthony.

It’s a scary thought.

Another reason to pull the trade centers on who would be next in line to become the team’s icon. The team historically has always had another face waiting in the shadow of their current team leader. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar passed the baton onto Magic Johnson, who in turned handed it to Shaquille O’Neal. The big aristotle handed it off to Bryant, but there is no one waiting in the wings as Bryant begins to enter his mid 30s.

Anthony could be that next person to take over.

The final reason stems on the idea of value. Is Bynum that much more valuable than Anthony? While number fifteen is older than the baby-faced center, he is only three years apart in age. That discrepancy isn’t a big difference from one another. Also, Bynum plays a demanding position that will take a toll on his body down the line. He is already beginning to show stages of that; in his six NBA seasons, he’s only had one full campaign and participated in 50 or more games in three of those years.

Along with health and difference in age, the idea of value continues when comparing Bynum to other big men in the league. Currently, J.J. Hickson and Glen Davis average more points per game than the Lakers’ center. His rebounds per game would not even qualify him for the top ten among all big men in the league. During his NBA tenure, the highest he’s averaged scoring-wise in a year is fifteen per game. He’s only averaged more than 30 minutes a game and double-digit rebounds once in his career.

Those totals don’t sound very elite for a big man.

With Gasol and Odom around to play big, Bynum is expendable in a trade for one of the Western Conference’s starting forwards in the All-Star game. Yes, they will lose presence in the paint on both the offense and defense, but gain so much more in a player who can alter the game just like Bryant does.

Pulling together a package along with Bynum would be the best way to fix the Lakers current problem. The acquisition of Anthony would be a great way to redirect the team towards success.

Not just for this season, but for years to come.

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