NBA: What the Los Angeles Lakers Need To Turn Around The Season
by, 02-20-2011 at 02:09 PM (946 Views)
With the All-Star weekend all but coming and gone, the 32 teams will now shift their focus on the last stretch of the season. Of those 32 teams, there is of course, one defending champion, the Los Angeles Lakers, who despite a 38-19 record, are sitting in third place in the Western conference, with more questions than answers.
Where's the determination to win? The determination to be the best team? Is Andrew Bynum the answer? Is this really the best the Lakers have to offer after two straight championship seasons? I don't believe so and I feel that the squad knows what needs to be done in order to, dare I say it, make them championship contenders again, but whether or not they will execute remains to be seen.
One of the problems that the Lakers have struggled to keep under wraps has been the turnovers. Currently averaging 13.4 a game, they are just a couple notches below the league average. It is no secret that one of the keys to winning any basketball game is to maintain the turnover battle and never let loose. Unfortunately the Lakers have had several miscues, misdirections and either tossed the ball away or cause a turnover from not paying attention to the simplest of things, and as such the opponents take advantage and get points.
A key example would be during the recent game versus the Cavaliers, Blake passed it back to Gasol who apparently was going to pass to Odom, except Odom wasn't there, and the Laker bench were. Unfortunately the bench isn't allowed to shoot the ball.
Another issue the Lakers must overcome if they want to make it to a fourth straight finals, is finishing out games. Too many times this season, the Lakers are either tied or have a lead going into the fourth quarter, only to squander it with six minutes remaining and end up losing the game. You cannot expect to go into Dallas, San Antonio, Denver or Oklahoma City and just coast your way through. You must box out, get rebounds and add points to the score if you want to walk away with any kind of victory.
Andrew Bynum. Drafted in 2005, Andrew Bynum has been what many have considered to be a bust. He's only played one full season, 2006-07, and since has only averaged 45.5 games a season. He was missed during the 2008-09 NBA Finals, what many would have considered a huge game-changer if he had played and this season is still struggling to find his groove.
His lowest scoring night was against the Nets, with 22 minutes played, only scoring two points, had five rebounds, two blocked shots and an assist. You will need more productivity from your big man if you're heading into San Antonio, or Dallas and don't even get started about the East if they make it out. His highest statistical night came against the Jazz last month, scoring 19 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocked shots and an assist.
Ron Artest was phenomenal in game seven last season versus the Celtics, no question about it. This season however, he's averaging season lows across the board and that has many fans worried. Sure his defense is more or less on par, however you still need productivity on offense if you're going to win any games. Artest is struggling in that department, several times in a game and it hurts the Lakers. Whether or not they need to trade is a different matter, but while on the team Artest will have to isolate any issues he's having and squander them, the time is now for Artest to increase his stock.
The bench. We all witnessed it last year in the finals against the Celtics in game four when the Celtics bench outscored the Lakers bench 36-18. That can't happen again, and it shouldn't but will it? If your starters are slipping, it's no secret that you will need depth at the bench in order to help pick up the slack at any given time. This season has been a testament of that, where the Lakers have both won and lost games partly because the bench wasn't able to step in at the right time.
Should the Lakers wish to repeat as champions for a third straight season, they will need to dig deep, look within themselves and pull out all the stops. No more can they let the last shot be taken by the opponent, turn the ball over countless times and expect to still win. Andrew Bynum needs to work stronger and harder while Artest needs to pick up the offense again. If most of these issues can get corrected in the last 25 games remaining, the possibilities are endless.