Monday, September 19, 2005

Offseason Overview: Los Angeles Lakers.

Life sure gets a bit harder once Shaq leaves town, huh? Year one of life post-O’Neal was a complete disaster in Los Angeles. The Kobes struggled to find an identity last year, both when Bryant was on the court and when he was injured. In response, owner Jerry Buss brought back Zen Master Phil Jackson, and made a number of questionable moves throughout the offseason. Jettisoning Caron Butler and Chucky Atkins for Kwame Brown has most Wizards fans chuckling at their good fortune. Spending the number 10 pick in the draft on high school center Andrew Bynum sent draft analysts scrambling for their “D” grades. Still not satisfied, Buss and co. went out and signed Aaron McKie to a 2-year, $5 million deal. Of course, he only scored 2.2 ppg last year and is 32 years old, but hey, he’s supposed to be a pretty nice guy. Anyhow:

The Stud: Kobe Bryant, SG
No one in the league, perhaps, has more to prove than Kobe Bryant. He got what he wanted last year, a team free from the burdens of playing with Shaq and playing for Phil Jackson. And he responded by shooting the worst he has since 1997, having the most turnovers of any non-PG in the league, and watching his team crumble out of his control. He also attempted about twice as many three’s as his career average. I actually like Kobe this year. There’s a lot of pride on the line, and I think that Phil might actually get in his head and teach him to share the ball a bit more. Aside from all the drama, he’s still a early/mid first round pick.

The Support: Lamar Odom, F
Odom is still molding his game and continues to develop into more of a forward than a swingman. His rebounding numbers continue to increase while his days of averaging over 5 assists seem to be a thing of the past. That could be changing, though, with the arrival of Kwame Brown in LA. Odom can now move to his more traditional spot at the small forward position and might start hitting more threes and getting more assists as a result. He’s a solid 4th round pick this year.

The Supporting Support: Kwame Brown, F/C
I’m not sure there’s any reason, looking at his career numbers, to think that Kwame will get his act together and put up nice stats this year. But then again, he’s got nowhere to go but up, he’s on a new team that traded away two quality pieces to get him, and he’ll get lots of playing time. He’s worth a late round flyer … but nothing more.

The Sleeper: Chris Mihm, C
Take a look at Mihm’s numbers last year if you pro-rate them out to 35 mpg:

13.8/9.4, 2 blocks, 51% FG, 68% FT.

Now that’s certainly not going to win any fantasy leagues, but it’s the numbers of a very solid center. If he gets in the good graces of Phil Jackson in training camp, look for Mihm to have a very solid year. Then again, if there’s pressure to play rookie Andrew Bynum, Mihm could be useless.

The Slacker: Everyone else.
There are lots of guys on this team that have a chance to put up nice fantasy numbers if they got decent minutes. But the reality is that folks like Brian Cook, Stanislav Medvedenko, Devean George and others are going to get limited playing time at best. Guys like Aaron McKie or Andrew Bynum might eventually be worth a roster spot but they’re just not worth drafting. This is going to be a wait-and-see team.

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