Measuring the Lakers’ Outlook, as Challenges Lie Ahead

The Good

Kobe Bryant

Ever since the words “almost bone on bone” came out of Bryant’s mouth in reference to his knee, he’s gone on an efficiency tear and over the last five games has been shooting 48 percent overall. That might not seem like a staggering statistic when you look at Gasol whose career numbers put him slightly over the 50 percent mark, but for Bryant, all things considered it’s a pretty high number.

Bryant also had his first 30-plus point game of the season, granted it was against Golden State and a large part of it might have to do with his 11 points at the stripe, but the outlook is promising. He’s kept his word that he’ll find new ways to score and adjust his game so his knee isn’t affected. Bryant was sidelined from practice on Monday, as has been the case for most of the season, but as we already know, it’s more a strategy to prevent further wear and tear on his knee.

“I’m not going to answer questions about my knee every damn day,” Bryant said. “I said what I had to say, my knee feels fine. The key is to make it stay that way.”

Defense

The Lakers coaching staff has implemented a new defensive strategy that makes the big guys in the middle a focal point and so far, when properly executed, has been working in the Lakers’ favor. Overall, they’re 10th in the league in points allowed (96.1 points) and their effort on defense has also resulted in easy points off turnovers.

Of course, the Lakers will have their rough patches in continuing to execute the defense. When done correctly, the defense prevents the Lakers’ defenders from having to be put in situations in which the other team compromises the Lakers’ defenders through overloads and mismatches.

“It’s all about execution at this point defensively because we’re working on a new system, new structure that we believe will pay off in the end,” Bryant said. “You want to see improvement in that from game to game and not making the same mistakes over and over.”

Lamar Odom

If you thought Odom’s new-found consistency would diminish slightly once sliding back into his role as the Lakers’ sixth man, you’re sorely mistaken. Since Bynum’s return to the starting lineup, Odom is still averaging around 30 minutes per game, shooting at around 56 percent for the season (10 points higher than his career average) and still holds his own in rebounds.

To say that Odom is playing out of his mind right now is not as far-fetched as you would think. It would be a shame if he didn’t make the All-Star team, though I doubt it would affect his psyche.

Next: What the Lakers could improve on

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