Saturday, March 29, 2008

Interview with the Enemy: L.A. Ball Talk

We continued our trek through the blogs of our opponents by catching up with Daniel from L.A. Ball Talk. He had some great insights for us on things in LaLa Land, including thoughts on former Grizzly Pau Gasol. He also had some good questions for us about Javaris Crittenton and the direction of our team, which you can read here. On with the show!

3 Shades of Blue: 1. The Lakers are only 1 game behind the Hornets for the top spot in the ultra-competitive Western Conference playoff race and expect to get F/C Pau Gasol back any day now. Will the Lakers get the #1 seed in the WC playoffs? Will that translate to a move beyond the first round -- something they have not done since trading Shaq to Miami?

L.A. Ball Talk: Not only because I am a fan myself, but simply because of the way the schedules are set, I feel that the Lakers have a great chance to finally not only win the Pacific Division but also the Western Conference title. New Orleans has a tougher schedule than the Lakers and the rest of the Western Conference at that with plenty of games still coming on the road, especially against teams such as Boston, Toronto, and Orlando. Also, they will have to face Golden State, Dallas, and Utah. The Lakers and Hornets also face up against each other at the end of the season; that game may well determine not only the Conference Champion but also the MVP. The Lakers only play three legitimate teams the remainder of the season, out of their ten games. Those teams include New Orleans, San Antonio, and Dallas. Dallas is struggling and the Lakers have managed to beat them the last two meetings, so hopefully that one can become an easy win for them as well. The return of Pau Gasol, hopefully in the very near future, and Andrew Bynum toward the end of the season, will mean that the Lakers will either be a very strong team with an amazing starting lineup (if Bynum is healthy enough to play as a starter) or they will be a solid team with just another option of the bench. The Lakers have the strongest bench on the team and if you truly take a look at it, this bench can be the starting lineup in about 5-7 years. I can see Farmar, Vujacic, Walton, Turiaf, and Bynum as a pretty strong starting line-up in a few years. Either way, the Lakers have all the fire power they need to compete for the championship, the rest is resting upon the shoulders of the players to deliver.

3SoB: 2. Who does your MVP vote go to? Is it obviously Kobe or is it a legit 3-man race between the Mamba, the King and CP3?

LABT: Kobe is my MVP. Kobe should me your MVP too. Lakers fan or not, you cannot let Kobe's accomplishments this season go unrecognized. The only guy that I would consider for MVP besides Kobe Bryant is Chris Paul. Chris Paul has led the New Orleans Hornets just as far as Kobe has led the Lakers. Chris Paul is easily the best point guard in the NBA, and he's still so young. The kid has so much potential it's ridiculous. He's putting up 15+ assists every game I watch and the feeds to Tyson Chandler are on point every time. The difference between Kobe and Paul is that Paul has had the opportunity to go through training camp, preseason, and the entire regular season with a set roster. Also, the injuries to the Lakers have been killer. This season alone, Bynum has missed more than half so far, Ariza has missed more than half so far, and Pau has missed several games leaving the Lakers with a full roster for only one game so far this season, and never with Pau Gasol. The argument regarding having a full roster applies to Keven Garnett as well. I have no doubt in my mind that the Lakers with a full roster of Bynum and Gasol the entire season would leave the Lakers with the best record in the NBA and in the pursuit of history. Kevin Garnett is good, but he's had two sidekicks right next to him the entire season. Lebron James was in the talk early but he's proved time and time again, given the opportunity to take his team higher in the standings, but the Cavs are barely ten games over .500 while the Lakers and Hornets are 25+ games over .500 each, in a much more competitive conference. Lebron's stats are good but his team's win-loss record prevents him from winning (that is if you hold him to the same standards that Kobe was held to the last two seasons).

3SoB: 3. In the limited time he has been with the team, what are your thoughts on Pau Gasol? Is he the perfect complementary player to Kobe in the triangle offense or will issues arise once Andrew Bynum is healthy?

LABT: Pau Gasol is a beast. I wrote an article many months ago when the Lakers were still amidst the "Kobe Bryant Trade Me Drama" that the Lakers best option would be Pau Gasol. He is a very large power forward that can shoot from outside of the paint, is extremely quick, and would be perfect in the triangle offense. Gasol and Bynum are the new version of the David Robinson and Tim Duncan duo. They are the new twin towers. I strongly believe that with Kobe, Pau, and Bynum running the triangle, other players will be left wide open. This team's success will be determined by the role players as the big names will simply free up the floor for open shots. Vujacis, Farmar, Fisher, Radmanovic will have to knock down the open threes that they will be given all day long. The other players such as Lamar Odom and Luke Walton will be amazing because they love to drive and kick. If we have the big three (the Lakers version) on the strong side, and a guy like Lamar driving down the baseline of the weak side, the defense is going to have to leave 2 or 3 players wide open at all times. I can't wait to see what happens but all the heat Kupchak took in the last few years (even from me) has paid off because he has done a superb job in stacking this roster with guys that complement the three headed dragon to perfection!

A big thanks to Daniel for taking the time to answer our questions, as well as posing some insightful queries to us. Go check out L.A. Ball Talk.

BallHype: hype it up!

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