If Laker fans learned anything from the first half-week of the season it is that they are in desperate need of a point guard. Specifically, a quick and athletic one. Yes, Chris Paul would have been a great addition to the team and would have solved a lot of problems, but that didn’t happen and the team needs to look for plan B to move forward.
For a few months now the possibility of acquiring Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic via trade has been popular water cooler talk. On top of that, for the first time in awhile most fans and analysts can’t tell where the Lakers are going to go this season or where they will end up. However, Jim Buss gave fans a little bit of an answer of what may happen to the team, especially this season.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times‘ T.J. Simers, Buss said, “I don’t know what our record will be during the first half, but I believe over the last 33 games going into the playoffs we will have the best record in the west. I don’t understand the thinking that we need saving as a franchise. We have three All-Stars, and we need saving?”*
When asked about the rumor that the Lakers would be willing to offer both Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, Buss replied, “Where does this stuff come from? You’d have to be kind of silly to give up two All-Stars like that for Howard. Zero truth to it. We have never been asked for Andrew and Pau and we’ve never offered them. I think they know we’d either say no or they would sound crazy for asking.”*
Many Laker fans, including myself, are hesitant to let two talented seven footers leave. This idea seems even more radical to me now knowing what reserves would have to take the place of Pau Gasol. There have been credible arguments that Gasol is too soft on both sides of the floor, which we have seen during the first few games this week. Yet, it appears that Howard isn’t the needed piece of the puzzle.
When Bynum is in the line-up and when he is healthy, Gasol performs at a higer level. Gasol isn’t naturally aggressive and doesn’t play like the typical NBA center, which is why he seems uncomfortable playing the center position when Bynum is out. Remember, this is what also makes Gasol such a unique player. A seven footer who regularly shoots mid-range shots is not often heard of in this league.
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What the Lakers need more than anything is a point guard. I wrote about this during the beginning weeks of the off-season last summer. However, no real solution was offered to this very real problem. Derek Fisher is old in NBA years and the game against the Sacramento Kings showcased that on a silver platter. Fisher was not just one, but a few steps behind Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton and Jimmer Fredette.
Despite reports that Steve Blake has regained his confidence offensively, it has yet to be displayed on a consistent level in the regular season. Additionally, Blake was also a step behind on the defensive end in both the Chicago and Sacramento games, which lead to open shot opportunities for the opposing team that mostly came through.
This is the problem with the current Lakers team. The league has turned into a point guard driven league. Especially in the Western Conference, a Lakers point guard needs to rival talent such as Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Eric Gordon. The Lakers aren’t the only western favorites that are dealing with this dilemma. The Dallas Mavericks lost J.J. Barea and have a similar aging point guard in Jason Kidd. Despite being loaded in the frontcourt, their weakened backcourt has been apparent in their two loses thus far.
The Lakers have two seven footers, one the aggressor, one the mid-range jump shooter. Devin Ebanks needs to continue to get more opportunities to build his confidence and skills. A so far improved Metta World Peace can lead the bench.
Finally, the Lakers have one of the best players and competitors of all-time in Kobe Bryant. Instead of focusing on if they should or shouldn’t go after Dwight Howard, Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak must focus on acquiring a point guard who can compete with the other talented point guards in the West.
*Source: LATimes.com | T.J. Simers