Heir'z Corner: Comparing 2004 and 2009
When you think about it and really analyze our current team, some of the similarities to our old squad in 03-04 are interesting. It got me thinking:
When healthy, which team is better? Let's break this down fairly.
Devean George vs Lamar Odom- With George, he was nothing more than the 5th beetle. Although he wasn't a bad player when his head was on straight, he was just the other guy out there playing with the four future Hall of Famers. In fact, had Rick Fox come into camp healthy George probably would have come off the bench. With Odom it's different. Playing with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum doesn't mean he can take days off. He'll be depended upon to relieve pressure from those guys every now and then. More so than Devean George that is. Lamar's adjustment from PF to SF will take time for him to adjust to, as well as the team. It's great that his versatility gives us a multitude of different looks to throw at the defense, but when it comes to playing SF you have to give the edge to George for the simple fact that he's a more dependable shooter and is excellent at moving his feet on defense.
Karl Malone vs Pau Gasol- These are two very different players but Phil will likely want the same out of Pau that he got from Karl, which was a reliable mid range shot to free up Shaq in the paint- or in this case Bynum. The difference is that Karl was also tough on defense and could force a Tim Duncan or Kevin Garnett into a 6-17 night. Let's just be real about it for a minute, Pau is soft. His length gives him an advantage but he'll have to crash the boards and get back on defense a lot quicker than he was in 2008. Malone takes this one.
Shaquille O'Neal vs Andrew Bynum- Two completely different roles here. Shaq, as we know, was the man. Everything went through him and he got the most credit for our success. Bynum? At best he'll be Kobe's left hand.....for now. What exactly Phil's goal with the team's offense will be in 2009 is a question mark at this point, but more than likely Bynum will just play off of Kobe. Shaq was an All-Star, MVP candidate, and best player on a team that featured 3 of the greatest players ever. No contest here.
Kobe Bryant vs Kobe Bryant- Pretty simple breakdown if you ask me. In 2004 Kobe was young and wild. Now? He's the tickle man. That was a difficult year for Kobe but he shined brighter than any other Laker under pressure. Whether he had to hit a big shot or deliver a huge performance in the playoffs, he was right there for the team. NBA Finals? That's another story. Because of the Colorado fiasco, a lot of people forget that Kobe didn't work out during the summer and began the season unhealthy. As Phil said, a few months of lifting weights and not having to constantly fly from Colorado and Los Angeles for court hearings would've prevented him from burning out by the time we reached the Finals. This year there's no telling how Kobe's legs will feel when we reach the playoffs. For the past 2 summers he's had to play during the summer for Team USA and he's turning 30 years old. However, with this squad having a ton of ammo I can see Phil giving Kobe some games and practices off to give his body the chance of recuperating. Factor in his experience and new leadership skills and it's obvious which Kobe Bryant is more deadly.
Gary Payton vs Derek Fisher- Both old as hell, but nothing alike as players or people in general. Payton couldn't stand playing for Phil since he was a slasher instead of a shooter, but Fish doesn't complain about those things. Gary wasn't great for the locker room, Fish is a leader. Gary would rather drive in the paint and run the floor, Fish is a shooter and a lot more patient. Fish wins.
Benches- Fisher, Rush, Medvedenko, and Cook vs Farmar, Sasha, Ariza, and Vlad. The second squad is more versatile because they can all either pass, shoot, or hustle their [Swearing is not permitted at Clublakers. You must edit this post prior to submitting.] off. Maybe all 3. They've also been together longer and have cohesiveness, while the other was really mixed with both young and old players. 2009 squad gets the upper hand.
So when you balance it out, this is what you get:
But when you mesh the talents and factor in scenarios such as injury, late game situations, and chemistry, who wins?