Thursday, October 9, 2008

Interview with the Enemy: The Lakers Nation

Last week, we exchanged questions and answer with The Lakers Nation, a great blog that follows the Los Angeles Lakers. Our answers are up on their site right here. Here are the queries that we had for their lead writer, Jonathan Somers-Harris.

3 Shades of Blue: If Kobe, Lamar, Pau and Bynum all expect to participate in the offense, how do you think the attitudes/egos will mesh?

The Lakers Nation: Well, I think it will be easier than most people think. Kobe is the undisputed top dog, there's no question about who's taking that final shot. Pau is a very good 2nd option, and in fact you could probably argue that he's more comfortable in that 2nd option role than as a first option. That just leaves Lamar and Bynum. Lamar would be happy averaging 10/10/8, scoring or not scoring isn't going to hurt his ego. The only problem i can see would be Bynum. Right before he got injured, he was showing great promise as an offensive option (not just put-backs and alley-oops). He was regularly scoring in the 17-25 point range while picking up 13-16 rebounds leading up to the injury. (No center, no matter how good, scores 17-25 points a game on put-backs and alley-oops alone)

He may turn out to be a pretty selfless guy, and he shoots such a high percentage that he may not need a whole lot of touches, but he's the one guy that i can see having a problem being the 3rd option in his contract year. (I wouldn't be happy either if a 5year/80M contract was on the line)

3SoB: If Kobe's finger forces him out during the season, will the Laker faithful be kind to him or not?

TLN: Lakers faithful: we're faithfully fickle. The same people who are praising him now for his "competitive spirit" or whatever they want to call it will be cursing his poor judgment. I don't think it will stop us from loving him though. I will liken the situation to that of Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United. before he came back from Injury, people were saying how they wouldn't cheer for him anymore. However, as soon as he was ready to start warming up for his first game back from injury. (even before he was introduced as a substitute) the crowd went crazy for him.

In the same way, we might grumble a bit about the surgery, but in the end, we need him to much to not be kind to him.

3SoB: Last year the Lakers bench was critical to the team's success, but disappeared in the Finals. Is there any concern that the bench won't live up to that level with so many big name players in the starting lineup now?

TLN: This all depends if Lamar comes off the Bench or not. if he doesn't come off the bench, our projected "bench mob" will be

PG: Farmar
SG: Sasha
SF: Ariza
PF: Powell
C: Mihm

The only real difference between this year and last would be Powell replacing Turiaf (I will miss that man) and Mihm replacing Mbenga. Either way, Gasol is still expected to see some time at C and Lamar is expected to see some time at PF too, so there's not a whole lot of drop off from this year as there was last year. A bigger concern for the Lakers is that if both Lamar and Ariza are playing the SF position, then Kobe won't be able to slide over the the SF slot, and the three guard lineup that was so effective last year (Farmar/Fisher, Sasha, and Kobe) won't get a lot of court time.

3SoB: When do you expect Jordan Farmar to claim the starting PG role? Is it Derek Fisher's spot for the foreseeable future?

TLN: It's up to Farmar to claim the starting PG role. Fisher performed far beyond expectations the last year, but the Lakers cannot continue to expect that from him, as age will have to affect his performance at some point. That being said,Farmar needs to make the next big jump in his game in order to take the starting gig from Fisher outright. Farmar had a great first 60 or so games last season, and during that time he was getting about 24MPG. For whatever reason though, his production tailed off dramatically after that, and Fisher was forced to play upwards of 30MPG for the rest of the season/playoffs.

I think we'll see Fisher average 20MPG this season as a starter, and the probably the transition will happen in the 2009-2010 season

3SoB: Should Lamar Odom start at SF or come off the bench as a 6th man this season?

TLN: He should definitely start, if only so that the Lakers can see how a big, yet fast, line up works. If the "Lamar as a starting SF" experiment fails, then we can move him to the back up PF roll. there won't be a huge learning curve there because Odom has played the PF position for the Lakers for the best part of 3 years now, plus he's usually the only starter playing the the bench players during line-shifts, so he's already used to having to run the show/being a first option.

Speaking of big line ups, if you will indulge me for a second, I've been really excited about the possibility of Sun Yue (6'9") winning the starting PG spot at training camp this year. Imagine a starting line up where your shortest player was Kobe Bryant at 6'6"?

PG: Sun Yue. . . . . . . 6'9"
SG: Kobe Bryant. . . . 6'6"
SF: Lamar Odom. . . 6'10"
PF: Pau Gasol . . . . . 7'0"
C: Andrew Bynum . . 7'1"

It probably wouldn't work, but its exciting to think about.

3SoB: Which team in the Western Conference concerns you most as a potential playoff opponent next spring?

TLN: New Orleans, without a doubt. Fisher does a good job staying in front of bigger guards like Deron Williams and Jason Kidd, but Chris Paul is an absolute nightmare. I'd like to think that Gasol and Bynum gives us too much size for them to cover, but that won't matter if we can't stop Chris Paul.

A lot of people are surpised that I don't say the Rockets, but in truth, they don't worry me as much, and here's why. Unless they're going to effectively slap Shane Battier in the face and make him Ron Artest's back up, the Rockets are going to lack some defensive size. If they play all of T-Mac, Artest, aand Battier at the same time that limits the minutes that Luis Scola gets, and by extension valuable players like Carl Landry won't get time either.

3SoB: Your thoughts on Coby Karl, who looked like a future Hall of Famer in his Summer League game against the Grizzlies?

TLN: How did you know that Coby Karl was my favourite Lakers player? Honestly, If Sasha had left the Lakers I would have been fine with it, because I felt Coby Karl could replicate most of his production. I think he has a great career as a solid back-up in this league. Personally, I'm hoping he has the balls to ask for the No. 8 shirt coming into camp this season, because that would be the most amazing thing since. . man. . that would just be awesome.

3SoB: What were your expectations for Pau Gasol last year and how much have they changed for the upcoming season?

TLN: I expected him to be a lighter, more versitile Andrew Bynum on the S/R's with Kobe, everything beyond that was a bonus. this year, I'm expecting to see more of his short/mid-range game obviously. I think we underutilized him last year, hopefully this year we can incorperate more of his offensive skill set into the game plan.

3SoB: True or False: Jerry West is the best SG in the history of the Los Angeles Lakers.

TLN: In finished History, true. by the time Kobe is done, we might have to revisit this question. (see how i dodged that bullet? haha)

3SoB: If the Grizzlies and Lakers were to switch divisions, how much would that affect each of their records for the upcoming season?

TLN: Oh man. well, between not having to play Spurs, Hornets, Mavs, and Rockets that extra 1-2 times each (4-8 games) as well as being able to play the Clippers and Warriors that extra 1-2 times (2-4 games) or vice versa. I'd expect the Grizzlies to win about 5-8 more games, and the Lakers to win about 2-3 less (The Lakers had a great record against playoff teams in the West last year). It would definitely lower the winning percentages of all the teams in the Southwest division, and they would probably all still qualify for the playoffs. . that's just crazy to think about.

We want to thank Jonathan and The Lakers Nation for doing this interview and would love to be able to wish them the best for the upcoming season....except that it is the Lakers, so we'd rather die a slow painful death than to wish them anything but misery and doom. We can't help it -- it is ingrained in us to hate them with every fiber of our being.

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