Blogging with the Enemy: Forum Blue and Gold

We’re starting a new feature here at HoopsAddict.com. Bloggers have quickly become a great resource around the net and we’ll be trying to get in touch with the best blogs around the league as the Raptors play their respective teams.

Today, we have Kurt from Forum Blue and Gold.

Q: How has the loss of Andrew Bynum affected the Lakers?

Being without Bynum has turned this team into the squad Kobe feared last summer. Bynum has developed into the true second option on offense by taking that pressure off the streaky Odom, who when asked to win the game last night against the Pistons shot an airball. Tex Winter’s triangle offense that the Lakers run has one corner of the triangle in the low block, and Bynum has provided that — single cover him, and he can score on just about any big, double him, and he passes out well (and to double him you leave someone like Derek Fisher open). The other thing Bynum did well on offense was play off Kobe. He would come down and set a pick for Kobe out by the three point line, and when the two defenders did the smart thing and made sure Kobe didn’t drive past them for an easy basket Bynum would roll to the hoop for the lob and dunk. The help defender couldn’t rotate off of Bynum without paying a price, and that opened things up for all the Lakers who can drive the lane, such as Kobe, Odom, Fisher, Farmar, and Ariza.

But the bigger thing Bynum did was on the defensive end. He was a shot blocker in the paint who could also alter shots. That allowed the wing defenders to play tighter, jump passing lanes, and be more aggressive. When the Lakers play well, they are playing good defense, and Bynum had become a big part of that.

Q: Is Kwame Brown the Laker version of our former draft pick, Rafael Araujo? And will he ever become the player that GMs seem to want from him?

The worst thing to ever happen to Kwame was being drafted #1 and coming with all that hype. What we’ve learned over the years of watching guys come out of high school is that the ones who are really driven to improve (Kobe, KG, Jermaine O’Neal) become good players, but the ones who quickly become comfortable never reach that level. Kwame Brown is the latter. My suggestion is to read this story from Kevin Ding in the OC Register. The fact of the matter is, despite what is expected of him, Kwame is quite happy being who he is. And that is the role of a backup center in the NBA. You just can’t look at him as a #1 pick overall or as a guy who is making $9 mil this season. He should never have been asked to be that guy. He just is what he is, and that is pedestrian.

Q: What move do the Lakers need to make to get to the championship?

A little more maturity, allowing them to play better in tight situations. A little more depth and talent, particularly along the front line. More consistency. More Time. To stay healthy.

Now even with all of that, winning the West right now is all about match-ups. The Spurs can beat the Suns, yet struggle with Dallas. Phoenix has days where they look like they can’t be beat, then they lose to teams with good scoring centers. (They even lost to the T-Wolves because they couldn’t stop Al Jefferson.) Nobody is sure what the Hornets and Timberwolves will bring to the playoffs this season. It’s going to be interesting.

HoopsAddict.com would like to once again thank Kurt for his time. Please don’t forget to visit Forum Blue and Gold!

Just in, a Bonus Question:

Q: What are your thoughts on the Gasol Trade?
YES!! YES!! YES!! YES!! YES!! YES!! YES!! YES!! YES!! YES!! YES!! YES!!

On a more rational note (and, by the way, Laker fans are not rational right now, exuberance has run amok): Gasol is a great fit for the Lakers offense. He’ll play the four where he’ll get the ball in the high post or low post (depending on matchups), be asked to move without the ball (something he does well) and will get good looks inside and out. Gasol’s well-rounded Euro game is a great fit at the four for the Lakers offense. What are the knocks on
him?  He’s not an intimidator in the paint on defense and not great on the boards?  Well, with Bynum back he doesn’t have to be.

Think about the Lakers starting five once healthy: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum. Off the bench comes Vladamir Radmanovic, Luke Walton, Jordan Farmar, Ronny Turiaf for energy, Sasha Vujacic for shooting. That’s a title contender in a big way.

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