Handing Out Grades for Lakers 2012 Regular Season

Handing Out Grades for Lakers 2012 Regular Season


For as much turmoil as the Los Angeles Lakers have endured over the course of the season, even the most ardent of Laker detractors would have to acknowledge their steady progress. In fact, given all of the variables (shortened training camp, new coach/philosophy, injuries, benchings, suspensions, etc.), if you’re being honest/objective, you’d have to respect a 41-25 record out of a first-year head coach. Without further ado, here are my player rankings:


Andrew Bynum  Whether you want to call him “Bynumite”, “BEAST-MODE”, or just plain “Drew”, Bynum has been phenomenal, this season. Yes, leadership and maturity are the last two frontiers for Bynum to master, but at 24 years old, the you still have time to develop. If we’re being honest, while Kobe Bryant has developed into a very strong leader, even Bryant wasn’t the greatest of teammates early in his career. Plus, if Phil Jackson is telling us to “be patient, and watch Bynum’s development” I’m prone to trust Jackson’s instincts. Bynum should be praised, mightily, for the obvious work he’s put into his body/game. As mentioned before, he dropped his body fat percentage and worked on his strength/agility over the summer, and the results (18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds, 1.9 blocks) have caused multiple basketball pundits to proclaim Bynum as the best center in basketball. While that is certainly debatable, one thing that can’t be questioned is the organization’s decision to stand by him prior to this year. Time will tell, whether Bynum is able to mature and take the next step, into a true position of leadership; These playoffs will likely go a long way towards determining Bynum’s overall NBA future, as the Lakers will determine (this off-season) whether to pick up the final year of his contract ($16.473 million). Bynum’s grade: A

Pau Gasol  ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith claims Chris Bosh is the best third-option in the NBA, but I would have to humbly disagree. Pau Gasol, without a doubt, is the best third-option in the NBA. Far too often, people focus on what Pau doesn’t do, or what he isn’t. More often than not, public perception is flat-out wrong on Gasol. While you certainly wouldn’t have penalized Kareem Abdul Jabbar by calling him “soft” for being a versatile, finesse player during the 80’s, these days Gasol gets attacked on a regular basis for simply having a more developed/rounded skill-set than most current big men. Since most people (outside of LA) don’t penalize a guy like Dwight Howard for having a limited (at best) offensive skill-set, then I don’t think it’s fair to criticize Gasol for not having the same brute force of some of the bigger C/F’s. I’ll never understand the criticism, but I do know this, there are about 15 teams in today’s NBA that would sell their collective souls to have Gasol’s 17.4 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.4 blocks (on 50 percent shooting) as a  FIRST-option, let alone the third. Not to pile on other players, but Brandon Jennings (whom I like as a player) averages less than two (5.6) assists more than Gasol (3.7) on the year. Again, a (talented) starting point guard with the ball in his hands on just about every possession averages less than 2 more assists than a third-option PF/C per game. Gasol’s Grade: A-

Metta World Peace  Determined not to be a prisoner of the moment, I took a long look at MWP’s full season. It goes without saying, MWP started the year struggling to simply play his way into shape. Hampered by a sore back/achilles, MWP labored through a brutal month of January (3.6 points, 2.4 rebounds on 27 percent fgs, 16 percent from 3pt). Quite frankly, February wasn’t much better, but as Coach Brown stuck with him, MWP showed steady improvement. In fact, MWP was averaging 15.9 points, 4 rebounds, 3.3 assists on 49.7 percent fgs. (32.5 percent from 3pt) over his last 10 games. Although it came in the second-to-last game of the year, you cannot judge MWP’s season without acknowledging the “Peaceful Elbow”. Whether you believe his excuse of emotions and fury, or think he is a loose cannon that will always be a threat to explode, (if you’re LAL) you’re hoping MWP can find a way to balance between Metta and Ron when he is available after suspension. Rough start, strong finish, only time will time what, if any ramifications of his mistake vs OKC will be. World Peace’s Grade: C+

Next: Started with the ‘big men’, now for the guards…