Looking Ahead: The Lakers without Kobe Bryant

  

 

I know, I know. Still a few years off right? Well it’s never too soon to look at the future of (in my opinion) the best basketball franchise. Kobe Bryant has been doing this for so long he has to be living on borrowed time. He’s played into the playoffs for most of his career and played into late June 7 times. Between that and his Team USA commitment, how long can he keep this up? I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest Kobe Bean has two more years of this level of play without a drastic drop off. Which got me to thinking, what happens then? 

As far as the league goes, I think it’s obvious: the super friends take over. Which “super friends”? Tough to say since ‘Melo, CP3 and Stat all seem to want to replicate the threesome that was formed in Miami (Note to self: need to come up with insulting name for them. Menage a Bron?). That subject is best left for a later time, though… 

The Lakers currently have, by my count, one “young” player (not counting Bynum since I feel his injuries are adding years to his age. How old did KG look before his injury? Thought so) on their roster: Sasha Vujacic. Doesn’t quite inspire confidence does it? They did however draft a few talented players in this years draft: Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter. Outside of those players the only other youthful player that could be added is Shannon Brown, who in my opinion, will never be more than a Desmond Mason type (prove me wrong Shannon). So let’s break down the “youth movement” going on within the Lakers bench. 

 

I like Sasha. No really, I do. I think he brings that Varejao type annoyance that every team should have. 2008 was by far his best year, where it could be argued he was the third best scorer on the team. He was playing his brand of annoying defense and nailing three pointers when called upon. As a result he got a lot of crunch time minutes. Then 09 happened and uhhh 10  happened. He was buried under the bench while Brown, initially thought as a throw-in in the Vlad-Rad deal, took his minutes. He did however play meaningful minutes in the Finals and hit two huge free throws to help them win the chip. Here’s hoping he gets back to form in 11 and beyond. He is not, however, the future of the Lakers. He is, at best, a complementary player who spreads the floor for Kobe and/or the future franchise player. 

 

Next is Shannon Brown. He frustrates me at times and make me think he’s vital at others. Let’s forget the jaw dropping dunks for a moment and look at the other dimensions of his game. He is not a great shooter or passer, a passable defender and a mediocre rebounder for his position, but he could be so much more. With his jumping ability he could be an excellent defender and make the Bell-Jazz signing a blessing in disguise. He could work on his combo guard skills and provide us with our own Jerryd Bayless off the pine. Of course, that is all wishful thinking and this could be him topping out his potential. Things could be worse, at least he isn’t Mario Chalmers. 

From left to right: Mario Chalmers and the guy who was drafted before Russell Westbrook and OJ Mayo.

 I really like the two summer league kids. Both seem like hard working, blue collar type players. Ebanks has shown an ability to score and Caracter does the dirty work and doesn’t need many touches to get his points. Of course that is on the summer league level where players go to try to get on rosters. Let’s assume that they can carry over that success to the next level for a second here, are either player the answer? Ebanks I see as a Ariza type player and we all saw how well Houston did with him running the show. I would say he’s a great role player at best and an 8th guy at worst, which isn’t a bad pickup for a second rounder. Caracter is a Leon Powe or Milsap guy. Undersized but works hard. Of course, no one in the league can win consistently if he’s higher than the third option (why do you think Utah made the Jeffeson trade?). 

So I guess we don’t have a future franchise player? I think when Kobs hangs it up we still have Gasol for a spell but then we’re the Memphis Grizzlies who get kicked out of the first round every year. LA fans have been spoiled by this team for way too long. I don’t really feel like I’ve seen the Lake show in a true rebuilding mode in my lifetime and I think the time is drawing near. I guess we should just relish being in contention for the next few years and brace for the 20 win seasons that are going to happen eventually. Like I said before though, things could be worse: we could live in Cleveland. 

Not Pictured: Dwayne Wade pulling their strings.

-One

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~ by Prodigy on July 18, 2010.

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