2008-2009 Los Angeles Lakers Season Preview
2008 Los Angeles Lakers basketball preview from Maddux Sports handicappers. In addition to the free previews Maddux also provides FREE NBA DAILY PICKS.
The Los Angeles Lakers (57- 25) managed a mid-season trade that made every team foam at the mouth. As center Andrew Bynum went down with a knee injury, the Lakers got Pau Gasol from Memphis for two players who were not on their roster—Kwame Brown and Javaris Crittenton. The trade propelled Los Angles to the top of their division and conference. The addition of Gasol took the team to a whole other level when it came to offensive efficiency. After the All-Star break, the club put up an impressive 113.8 points per 100 possessions.
They earned the top spot in the Western Conference, which was totally unexpected. It’s true everyone thought this team would make it to the playoffs but not as the first seed. Three players increased their point production by 20% or better last season. Andrew Bynum increased his output the most, going from averaging 15.44 PPG in 2006-2007 to 22.60 PPG in 2007- 2008. The Laker backups were great and Kobe Bryant played amazing ball despite dealing with a broken finger. The team was third in offensive efficiency and third in field goal percentage (47.6%). In the post-season, the Lakers looked tentative against San Antonio in the conference finals and when they met the Celtics in the championship series, they were out-matched, losing in six games.
The Lakers added rookie point guard Sun Yue who brings fine playmaking skills. The team also added rookie shooting guard Joe Crawford, who averaged 17.9 PPG in his senior year at Kentucky. They re-signed hard working guard Sasha Vujacic to a multi-year deal. Golden State took forward Ronny Turiaf away from L.A.
Forward/center Pau Gasol proved to be just what the team needed upfront. Gasol, who’s got a fast running motor, grabbed 8.4 RPG and hit for 18.9 PPG. He hit his frees at the rate of 81%. Forward Lamar Odom and center Andrew Bynum were both double-double guys. Odom averaged 10.6 RPG and 14.2 PPG. Bynum, who played in 35 games, had 10.2 RPG and 13.1 PPG. Luke Walton, who saw his numbers decline last season, will come off the bench as will Vladimir Radmanovic. Both offer fine backup play.
In the backcourt, aging guard Derek Fisher isn’t flashy but he knows how to handle the ball. He’ll yield minutes to two younger guys—Jordan Farmer and Yue. Kobe Bryant is the dynamo of this team. Bryant averaged 28.3 PPG, 5.4 APG and 6.3 RPG. Bryant, who was last season’s MVP, is 30 and in his prime. He’ll make the team a contender for the next three to four years. Off the bench, Vujacic offers some fine three-point opportunities. There’s plenty of depth in the backcourt.
No one can say that coach Phil Jackson doesn’t know how to win, not even Bryant. Like last season, his Lakers offer top scoring potential, while showing improvement in rebounding, defense and athleticism. First-place in the Pacific Division and second in the Western Conference look to be theirs.