Staff Writer: Ryan Ward
This season the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers came into the year with great expectations of repeating as NBA champs and becoming a dynasty in the NBA once again with Kobe Bryant leading the way.
Not only was Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak able to keep the championship team relatively intact, with only Trevor Ariza leaving Los Angeles for the Houston Rockets, but he was also able to sign one of the best defenders in the league in the versatile Ron Artest.
With the addition of Artest, the Lakers became a much tougher, defensive minded squad which was what they were sorely lacking from previous seasons.
Along with missing some much needed toughness, especially in the paint, the Lakers have also been without their starting center Andrew Bynum for the last two seasons. Even though the Lakers were still able to reach the NBA Finals in the past two seasons, winning last season against the Orlando Magic, Bynum’s presence has been missed from time to time.
This season Andrew Bynum came into the year healthy and ready to prove he is an All-Star caliber center and in the first half of the season he was succeeding, but his success didn’t last long as he has had nagging injuries and has gone down once again to end the NBA regular season.
This will be the third straight season that Andrew Bynum has been out of the lineup with the playoffs looming as he has a strained Achilles and it remains uncertain when he will return to the Lakers starting lineup. This is becoming an all too common occurrence for the young center and the Lakers patience may have run out as it is becoming more and more obvious that Bynum is nothing more than an injury prone big man.
Despite playing without Andrew Bynum once again, the Los Angeles Lakers durable sixth man Lamar Odom has stepped back into the starting lineup and played his heart out as he trying to help the defending champs get back to title contender status.
Recently the Lakers have had their fair share of struggles as they just haven’t been able to get back that championship swagger and at the worst time possible as the NBA regular season is quickly coming to an end.
With less than two weeks left in the regular season, Kobe Bryant and company have to figure out a way to get back on track and Lamar Odom will play big part in getting the defending champs back on track.
With the regular season coming to a close, the Los Angeles Lakers are competing for the league’s best record, but the Cleveland Cavaliers have a pretty big lead on the Phil Jackson’s squad and their hopes of heading into the playoffs with the best record are practically over. The one thing the team can shoot for is competing at a level at which they can hang with the likes of the San Antonio Spurs or the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round of the playoffs.