L4L wrote:If I was Mitch, I'd truly consider moving Bynum. Sessions was the right idea, but his inability to hit a three made him hard to play for significant minutes. I'd love to see how this team could operate with a point guard that had the talent and athleticism to run the break and get in the paint, but also the ability to space the floor from three.
As Ebanks improves, a player like this would allow our second unit, minus Kobe, to actually run. A few years back, we were able to squeeze some productivity out of the bench mob, that we might not otherwise have gotten, by speeding up the pace. It also made us one of the best offenses in the entire league due to our versatility. Admittedly, Odom was a big part of that. Gasol is actually fairly athletic compared to many centers, though. He's definitely capable of running when needed. In half-court situations, or really any time, this type of unit could still run a lot of PnR to emphasize the new found strength at PG and to keep the offense productive in stretches where Bryant was sitting.
Murphy fell out of favor and I don't think he's a great fit next to Gasol, but playing an athletic stretch four, not a freak but just athletic enough to hedge and recover effectively, would allow Bryant to get low post touches without destroying the spacing due to Pau's ability to space the floor from the high post. I think this could effectively elongate Bryant's career as well as vastly improve the efficiency of "Kobe Ball" in crunch time which we always seem to go to one way or another. There aren't more than a handful of perimeter players who can realistically handle Bryant on the block.
I thought that the main problems with the team this year came down to the poor spacing and the inability to defend the PnR effectively. I know of a few posters, or maybe just one, who will protest to the contrary, but I don't think Bynum will ever be a very good pick and roll defender. Frankly, Gasol isn't usually very good either, but he is both faster and more agile. I think his tools are more suited to the task. In the past, we've played Odom or Hill fairly significant minutes because both are/were athletic enough to do a better job. When our other bigs were put in PnR, we've relied on the inefficiency of mid-range jumpers. Westbrook hasn't been the first PG to burn this strategy.
I thought the other glaring issue was the poor spacing which was due primarily, of course, to our inability to hit the three. That said, I do think that Kobe's game is severely hindered by having both Gasol and Bynum on the floor at the same time. There are only so many sets you can use when you need one big next to the rim, one around the paint, all while a guard is trying to post up. Undeniably, our best offense was always with something like Shooter/Shooter/Bryant/Odom/Gasol and I truly believe spacing was the primary reason that was the case. We're no longer running the triangle exclusively, but a mid-post, pinch-post, and low-post Kobe iso's are still our best offensive options. If teams don't double him from there, he'll put up 30+ on 45%+ every single game. With Gasol AND Bynum in the game, it's almost impossible to get him those kinds of touches without overloading the weak side. Whenever we do that, teams just go to that quasi-zone, pack the paint, and dare Kobe to drive into 3-4 guys. The Celtics wrote the blue print nearly five years ago and now that our perimeter shooting is even worse and Kobe's athleticism is declining, it is even more effective. We might be able to fix this with better three point shooting to some degree, but with both Bynum AND Gasol on the floor with Kobe, unless we send Pau to the corner which, in all fairness, did happen a couple times this year, teams will always look to pack the paint against the Lakers.
This brings me back around to the beginning. This Lakers team is very, very talented and I honestly don't believe there is THAT much that separates us from a team like OKC. I truly believe many of you are severely overreacting. Something has to be done, though. I don't personally believe this team count on internal improvement. A "feed the bigs first and always" identity doesn't suit a Kobe Bryant led team in my humble opinion. While Kobe can still play at an elite level, and he can when he doesn't catch the ball at 20+ feet from the rim, I believe the dynamic and identity of the team should be constructed to emphasize his amazing skill set. Currently, as it stands, I don't believe it does. Really, I don't think the dynamic maximizes ANY of our talent. If we're going to do anything this off-season, I believe we should break up the twin tower dynamic.
And the tower I'd look to move first is Andrew Bynum.
I had a feeling you'd come here with your opinion as to how to improve this team. Great analysis. I wish you'd stick around.
I agree that our offense just simply doesn't work as constructed.