Sunday, June 24, 2012

How Can I Help You? Los Angeles Lakers

After two rough years, Kobe certainly wants another title.
The final "How Can I Help You?" segment will take a look at one of the most complicated teams in basketball, the Los Angeles Lakers. Despite being criticized and ridiculed all year long, the Lakers put together an impressive season behind Kobe Bryant and grabbed the 3rd seed in the West. However, issues with Andrew Bynum's maturity, Pau Gasol's production, and the team's thin bench were clear, and led to a second round exit to the Thunder. It seems clear that the team wants Gasol out of town. They need to shakeup the roster and try to win Bryant another title. We'll see what they can accomplish with Mr. Irrelevant at pick #60.

A trade may revitalize the team, but L. A. can't worry about that right now unless they make a draft day trade. Therefore, they'll try to add some depth on the bench, something they solely need, and possibly sign a free agent for some extra firepower.

Ramon Sessions is a free agent, but will most likely exercise his player option to stay with the team. The question is whether he can truly be their starting point guard. Sessions was very good during the regular season, but came up lame in the playoffs. As for the other free agents, the Lakers will want to get younger and not spend too much money if they want to get a big free agent. That means Troy Murphy and Matt Barnes are out, but Devin Ebanks and Jordan Hill will stay. Hill especially was a revelation last season, providing great rebounding after Gasol and Bynum. If Gasol was traded, it wouldn't be unfathomable to see Hill starting.

Taking all of that into account, Sessions will remain the starter with Steve Blake being his backup. Blake was a nice spark off the bench this past season and could continue to do this as long as he doesn't age too much. Kobe is, as always, the team's starting shooting guard. Andrew Goudelock is the part of the second unit, and could really develop into a talented scorer learning from Bryant.

Ebanks and Metta World Peace are the two small forwards, but neither are really starting caliber players. The Lakers could use a forward. The frontcourt consists of Gasol, Bynum and Hill. If the team is truly trying to get rid of Gasol, they may draft a big man.

So we're looking at point guard, small forward, and big man, but one that can really contribute right away. The window to win another title with Kobe is getting shorter and shorter. 

I've seen mocks having Los Angeles select Iona's Scott Machado with this pick, but the reality is that there's a fat chance that he's is still around at pick #60. Besides him, two other guards come to mind. J'Covan Brown and Tu Holloway are both very talented scorers who could help out right away. Holloway has more leadership and is less erratic, so he would be preferred, but both could give the team a boost in the scoring department.

If the Lakers are truly looking to find a small forward, I have an interesting option in mind. Robbie Hummel is a senior from Purdue that has torn his ACL too many times to count. He lacks certain physical tools that you need to be successful in the NBA. But he is a leader who can rebound, shoot, and possibly help the L. A. locker room. With a lot of turmoil and chatter surrounding the team, Hummel could step in, settle the team down, and follow Kobe's lead.

If Gasol is out, Watt could be in.
If they look to go big, there are a few power forwards that could still be left who would have the ability to score in the paint, something that would be valued by the Lakers. Herb Pope from Seton Hall's has mastered the post game and knows several scoring moves. Mitchell Watt from Buffalo has decent range on his jump shot and a smooth stroke. Cameron Moore from UAB has great athleticism and his improving his offensive game. He could be a poor man's Trevor Ariza, a former Laker.

Of all those players, Watt and Pope are probably the best. I'll give my mock draft the benefit of the doubt and say the team goes with Watt because I think Pope will already gone. Watt can slide behind Gasol (or Hill) and help improve the Laker bench. That's one of the keys to being champions once again.

Thanks everyone for reading these "How Can I Help You?" articles, I had a lot of fun with them. The 2012 NBA Draft is at 8 on Thursday night, and come back later in the week as I make my final mock draft.

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