Fine-tuning the Los Angeles Engine

There is little question that the bench is the most impeding force right now in the Lakers repeat quest, but that is definitely not the only problem. The next problem that needs to be fixed is Kobe Bryant. While Bryant is a former MVP and still one of the best players in the league, his countless injuries are beginning to catch up with him. Bryant needs to adjust his game and recognize that his bumps and bruises are limiting him offensively, and until he gets them fixed he is not going to be as effective on the offensive end as he is when healthy. He is averaging far too many turnovers and is taking far too many shots, and both of these stats lead to scoring options for the opposition.

Bryant is still the best player on the Lakers, and they will not repeat without him. However, he needs to realize that he is not going to be the dominant offensive player he was when he was healthy. Bryant and the rest of the Lakers need to begin to use their size to their advantage. If and when Bynum returns, the Lakers have a down-low duo that no other team can match. The issue arises when the Lakers are too lazy to force the ball inside and punish the opposing centers in the paint. Gasol may get criticized for not being one of the most physical players in the league, but he possesses a set of offensive skills that very few men of his size posses.

The Lakers have two deadly weapons in Bynum and Gasol, and much of their potential success in the playoffs is going to depend on how much they utilize them. The Lakers are the most talented team in the Western Conference, and probably in the entire NBA. They must take advantage of their talent if they want to play into June, but they must also learn to play as a team. The offense has been stagnant at times, where too many players rely on the isolation abilities of Bryant, or they take ill-advised three-point attempts that lead to fast breaks for the other team. Much of the Lakers offense depends on movement and fluidity, but when they play the style of ball they have played over the past few weeks there is too much standing around and mid-range jumpers.
Next: Ron Artest and the Triangle Offense…
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