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Enough about the presidential primaries, yesterday was all about the NBA. Pau Gasol made an impressive debut in his new Laker uniform, dropping 24 and 12 in New Jersey. Random thoughts on the suddenly relevant Lakers:
- This is a championship contending team. Enough said. Every now and then Stu Lantz will actually say something I do not already know, and last night he pointed out how the Lakers had four starters scoring in double figures in their 15 point win, and Kobe Bryant was not even one of them.
- Pau showed off his post skills very well, but more impressively showed his passing skills. He connected with Radmanovic, Kobe, and Walton several times, amazing considering it was only their first game together.
- Of course, getting Andrew Bynum back will only make the Lakers more dangerous. The twin towers are going to be a force inside, but look for Gasol to play more high post and Bynum more low post. I also think Phil should start and finish the games with them together, but not so much thoughout the game. That is, rest one seven footer while always keeping the other one in the game.
- On offense, having the twin towers drawing so much attention is going to open up so many opportunities for the perimeter players: Kobe of course, but more specifically shooters and slashers Jordan Farmar, Vladimir Radmanovic, Derek Fisher, Trevor Ariza, Luke Walton and company.
- On defense, having the twin towers is going to limit what opposing offenses can do. We have already seen how effective Bynum was alone; imagine having two seven footers anchoring the basket. Gone are the days of the Tony Parker's, Steve Nash's, Chris Paul's, Deron Williams', penetrating to the hoop for easy baskets. They may still drive in the paint, but will have to deal with two towers contesting their shots.
- The biggest winner in the trade: Lamar Odom. LO gets to play more of the small forward position when the twin towers are in together, which is a matchup nightmare for many opposing teams. He is relieved of the pressure of being the Lakers second best player. With the emergence of Bynum and acquisition of Gasol, he becomes the Lakers fourth option. Lamar Odom was consistently given space last night, and took advantage attacking the rim and getting to the line 13 times. He had 14, 15, and 5 only on four field goal attempts. That is efficiency folks.
- Is Kobe a genius or an idiot?
- He may be a genius, because after all the trade demand hoopla and parking lot video nonsense, at the end of the day, he got what he wanted: the acquisition of an all-star. Kobe now has Gasol and Bynum thanks to Kupchak and Buss. Management listened to his whining and delivered. Now it is on him to win a playoff series.
- He may be an idiot. Remember, Kobe wanted Bynum to be traded. Then he wanted to be traded away. Then Bynum emerged as a 20/10 stud and Kobe is on one of the league's top teams, on a roster he wanted no part of just a few short months ago.
- Pau needs a haircut and a shave. That caveman look may get by in Tennessee, but this is Hollywood, baby. Just ask Radmanovic and Vujacic.