Bolstering the Bench on the Road to the Three-Peat

Next comes Theo Ratliff. The veteran center is going into his 16th NBA season with an impressive resume behind him. Ratliff was always known to be a force on the defensive side of the court. Blocking shots and clearing boards was his major role. At the age of 37, he is one of the top 10 oldest players in the league today behind Grant Hill, Jason Kidd, Kurt Thomas, and former Laker center, Shaquille O’Neal.

Apr. 18, 2010 - Orlando, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES - epa02123316 Charlotte Bobcats player Theo Ratliff (R) dunks on Orlando Magic player Matt Barnes (L) during the second half of Game One of the First Round of the NBA Playoffs at Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida, USA, 18 April 2010.

Ratliff actually had a chance to start last season for the Charlotte Bobcats in 26 games where he average around 5 points, 4 boards, and 1.5 blocks per game. 1.5 blocks from a 36 year old center playing nearly 22 minutes a game deserves significant recognition. In his Laker interview, he says “my role doesn’t change, I’m noted for being the defensive stopper”.

These two key additions will obviously bring a strong defensive stance for the Lakers. With the addition of Barnes, he’ll bring a body on quicker two-guards or forwards like Paul Pierce or LeBron James. His ability to get up and down the court quick will benefit in the fast pace game the Lakers have developed through the years.

Ratliff will prove once again how and why he is known for his shot blocking days in Philly and Portland. The last two seasons, the bench consisted of young players like Josh Powell, Jordan Farmar, and Shannon Brown. Now that the Lakers signed Steve Blake, Matt Barnes and Theo Ratliff the veteran IQ comes into play for LA.

If the Lakers re-sign Shannon their starting bench will consist of Blake, Brown, Barnes, Odom, and Ratliff. The Los Angeles Lakers probably will have one of the better bench rosters than most teams in the league. Don’t forget, the two drafted rookies who impressed in summer league are also expected to make the Lakers roster this year as well.

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