Written by: Lena Adebowale
Kobe Bryant is an obvious piece of the Lakers championship puzzle, so there is no need to discuss the importance of his play down the stretch. Pau Gasol is another primary component to the Lakers three-peat. Gasol is “Mr. Consistency,” and he must continue playing like an All-Star.
The Lakers other starters, Dereck Fisher and Ron Artest are role players who earn their paychecks most of the time. Now before any die hard Fisher or Artest fans get upset, let’s examine the facts. On any given night, Fisher can make a great shot and change the momentum of the game. However, no one really expects him to play great defense or to stop his opponent from scoring.
Artest is also streaky, and while he has made game winning shots and gutsy defensive plays that make headlines, his overall numbers are down from last season. So with that said, the keys to the Lakers three-peat are Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown.
Since the All-Star break, Andrew Bynum is playing like a fearless warrior on the basketball court. Every key statistic has improved. Bynum’s rebounding and blocked shots have nearly doubled, while his field goal percentage is up 10 percent. Opposing teams have no answer for Bynum’s height, power or new attitude.
You can’t help but wonder if the trade rumors that surrounded Bynum had an affect. Some believed Bynum was too fragile to really be an effective center for the Lakers and wanted to see him go. Phil Jackson said he told Bynum, “you are the difference between the Lakers being a good team and being a great team.” The message resonated with Bynum, and his impact can be seen in the Lakers win column.
Lamar Odom is the Lakers “silent bomb,” he can explode for 20 points and 10 rebounds every night if he applies himself. Odom is incredibly talented and this season he is playing like he knows it. Lakers fans knew Odom had the skills to make big plays, but he often deferred to his teammates. Now, Odom is a notable threat and only a handful of players at his position can match up.
The final key to the Lakers three-peat is Shannon Brown. Brown averages just over nine points per game and he creates a spark off the bench that can not be recorded on the stats sheet. Defensively, Brown is effective, and on offense is exciting to watch. Most importantly, Brown understands his role and has become a valuable asset when Phil Jackson needs to rest his star, Kobe Bryant.
With only 11 games left in the regular season, the Lakers are hitting their stride and fine tuning the skills. Every team in the league has been put on notice and the Los Angeles Lakers are preparing for battle.
With Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown the Lakers understand what it takes to three-peat. The success of these three players will ultimately bring the championship back to Los Angeles.