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2010-11 NBA Preview: LA Lakers

The non-fantasy storyline here is who will be standing on the shoulders of which giants when it comes to the Lakers and the new Big Three. You can apply the same storyline to fantasy basketball, though, much easier than you might think. (Or perhaps equally as easy as you might think. But probably not less easily than you might think. Which is to assume that you do in fact think. Which might be more than we can safely say when it comes to this author.)

Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol have proven they are first round fantasy players even when they’re on the same team. And while the same is probably going to be true for “him” and D-Wade when the regular season ends, right now, we’re just playing Magic 8 Ball. Not only that, but Kobe’s numbers from the past two years are coming despite an injured finger. Yes, he missed 9 games, but you can expect that from just about any player. Even in the Top 12, only 8 played more than 73 games.

Next, when comparing the Superfriends to the Lakers, don’t make the mistake of bringing up how the Lakers basically got Pau Gasol for nothing much like Miami did in their trade for Chris Bosh. That is a quaint and outdated notion now that Marc Gasol is a double-double threat and Top 50 player. Odds are that’s better than whatever the Raptors get from their two picks in next year’s draft (one of which was originally theirs anyway). Of course, if you don’t like Pau Gasol on a personal level then maybe it doesn’t matter anyway. (Really, though, how could you not love this guy?)

So, without a 3rd bonafide superstar, how are the rest of the Lakers role players going to match up fantasy-wise?

Well, since we’re already at risk of going overboard with Miami comparisons and Miami mockeries, I won’t do a spot-by-spot comparison. I’ll just give you the normal schpeel and you can compare to the Heat team preview yourself if you care to do so. (This is also an important object lesson: While we can provide you with all the information we possibly can, when it comes time to act, you must act by yourself. An important lesson not just in fantasy basketball, but in life. You are welcome.)

Depth Chart
PG: Derek Fisher, Steve Blake
SG: Kobe Bryant, Shannon Brown, Sasha Vujacic
SF: Ron Artest, Matt Barnes, Luke Walton
PF: Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom
C: Andrew Bynum, Theo Ratliff

The Lakers traded out some of their spare parts for upgrades not unlike an episode of Pimp My Ride.

Okay, so not really like an epside of Pimp My Ride either… But they did get those new rims they wanted in Matt Barnes, and Steve Blake and Theo Ratliff have to count as an oil change and car wash at the least.

I think we here at GMTR may be overestimating Pau Gasol’s ability to repeat what he did last season, but he’s been very consistent since joining the Lakers and last season he even played with Andrew Bynum for 65 games, so it’s certainly a repeatable performance. And according to Yahoo (for now at least) he’s eligible at Center, which definitely counts for bonus points like he’s throwing together destruction combos in Blur.

Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant just turned 32 on August 23 (his Palindrome Birthday!) and only ended up at #11 on the Player Rater last year. Decline? Perhaps. But he might actually be healthy this year since the only thing the Yahoo Team Report says about him is:

Kobe Bryant had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee—his third procedure on that knee in his career—after having trouble with it all postseason. Details were few and far between, but Bryant is expected to be ready for training camp.

No mention of any finger problems. Sounds good to me.

Andrew Bynum has the inherent fantasy advantage of being 7 feet tall, but it certainly doesn’t hurt his draft position when you know that everyone is looking for a double-double machine who blocks 2 shots per game while shooting 50+ % and has even managed a decent 3 out of 4 from the line.

Lamar Odom has never really delivered on the upside potential that fantasy owners, Heat fans, and Laker fans saw. But, considering he’s the 4th best fantasy player on the Lakers despite basically only starting when Andrew Bynum is injured, well, that kind of just tells you how good Pau and Kobe are. With Odom playing on Team USA this summer, it’s not like his numbers are going to come up from last year, especially if Andrew Bynum manages to get out on the court for another 65+ games this time around.

Sometimes I wonder if Phil Jackson knew that Ron Artest would be good for Not Having A Conscience when it mattered… I suppose when everyone else takes care of the details, then Artest doesn’t really have to do much more than fill the gap when Kobe and Lamar don’t come through at their positions. And his fantasy ranking certainly reflects that. (I think that might have been a Boom, Roasted right there, but it’s been a while, so I’m not sure)

After Artest, the Lakers kind of drop off into Last Round Flierville. So, here’s the official GMTR Guidance:

Pau Gasol – 1st Round
Kobe Bryant – 1st Round
Andrew Bynum – 4th round for value, but probably gone in 3
Lamar Odom – 7th Round
Ron Artest – 11th Round
Matt Barnes – 12th Round

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