Whilst I like our starting line-up of DFish, Kobe, Lamar (I'm much happier with him at the three spot), Ronny (did anybody ever work harder to earn their place?) and Brown (assuming healthy, if not insert Mihm here for now), the key to success for this team is going to be our second unit and their ability to play strong - not just in the opening few games but deep into the season. Besides I thought it would make a nice change to focus on something other than the circus that surrounds our starting line-up right now!
Where does the second unit start? This is easy, with the son of hall of famer Bill Walton of course. Luke is not the greatest player to play the game, he's not even the most effective player on this squad, but he is quietly very effective in all major areas. He's had the experience of being a starter - and was perceived by some as a weakness there - but who would argue him being strong leading the second unit. Walton has something which isn't quantified in his athletic ability, shooting or even passing statistics.. it's his basketball IQ that separates him as our second unit leader. He will occasionally make daft mistakes, but that's often true for high IQ players that over-think the game. Last year was no fluke for Luke - he's going to have a strong year off the bench as a complimentary player to whoever else is on court.
That takes us to the big fella (no, not Mihm - although he has his place on the roster) Andrew Bynum. I'm not getting pulled into the arguement of whether he's the next big thing or the greatest bust since.. err.. our starting centre.. but his play at the start of the season has been pleasing. He's been able to bring energy evey night so far and that's what he needs to continue to do. He will automatically block some shots and grab a lot of rebounds when he's on court - staying on court is about the energy and staying lively. His offensive polish is definitely a notch up from last year and his numbers should steadily improve over the next couple of years as he moves to the first unit.. but for now he's a big lift off the bench and a vital part of our success.
Next most important part is Jordan Farmar. This guy is not a starting point guard yet in my books and I totally agree with him supporting off the bench - he'll see as many minutes as Fish probably, but Fisher is our starter and finisher unless something drastically changes through the course of the year. Farmar is a solid player who, again, brings energy to the court, I like his hustle and he appears to have the poise to move up a level. I don't see him as a future star, but I think he has the ability and confidence to be a good point guard in the NBA.
Then slides in my X factor for success for the second unit. A big-time scorer. That surely has someone guessing.. I mean of course Vlad Radmanovic. Here's a guy who can flat out shoot the ball and is a big time threat because of that fact. I honestly believe he will be key to our success this year - he looks different to me and I think he'll prove a spark when he's in. He could get serious minutes behind Ronny who may struggle to stay in for big minutes. His defensive abilities (or lack there of) are much maligned, but he can work well within a team defensive strategy when he's not called upon to mark (ironically enough) another shooter (yes, I saw the Peja demo).
Who's the last piece of the second unit, for me it's Maurice Evans. The guy is always itching to play and usually makes an impact. He plays both ends of the court - scoring and defending above average for the team. He was one of the smartest moves we made over the last couple of years and I think he's tough and hard-working - a real asset to the team in that respect. He doesn't have the smarts of Luke or a pinch of the ability of Kobe, but you have to like the way he plays hard.
The third unit. Okay, let's define what I think the third teams primary purpose is: to provide the training and back-up for the primary players and make the most of opportunities on the court.. oh and trash time when we get it. I have to put Sasha here, he flies around everywhere and makes a nuisance of himself, but he's not a natural NBA talent - that said he must be very useful in training simulating players who are stars on their teams - I bet he's a handful there! Chris Mihm may or may not be here - I kind of think of him as the other half of Kwame Brown and that way I'm okay with our starting centre(s). Brian Cook has a use - it's definitely not defensively, but he can knock down shots and that has it's time and place, especially for a big man down this deep in a roster. Crittenton looks like he has potential, but short of injuries he may not get to show much of it this year. He's not ready to lead this team but later in the year hopefully we'll see a few glimpses of what he can do - I think he's going to need to let the ball move away quicker, but I'll reserve that judgement. That it? Oh, Coby Karl. Yep, like him as 15, this guy will still be playing NBA in 10 years and be a pretty good 6th man by then I reckon. I like 2nd gen players they seem smarter, and a smart guy that can shoot should do alright in anyone's books.