BY: KWAME FISHER-JONES
The good news is the Los Angeles Lakers are headed to the second round of the 2011-2012 NBA Playoffs. The bad news is they have been exposed. When the Lakers were headed to a game seven against the inferior Denver Nuggets few believed they would actually lose that game. Now after going seven rounds with a team who had no business winning more than one game LA is headed to Oklahoma City, and from there who knows.
What began as a season with more questions than answers now appears to have provided us with the answers we all have been desperately seeking.
Fans can no longer wonder who is Andrew Bynum? How will Pau Gasol rebound from a horrid 2011 post season? Who will defend the speedy dynamic point guards of the west? After a lockout shortened season and a first round playoff series it is no longer the questions that have fans bugging, it is the answers.
Bynum can best be described as a temperamental enigma, who when motivated can be dominant.
However, if not motivated can bring about memories of Benoit Benjamin. The center was a force this year but proved even when completely healthy he may never be a franchise player. The Laker big man struggles with double teams, recognizing defenses, and most of all has yet to develop a go to move.
These things can be corrected, but Bynum’s shall we say “selective aggressiveness” is indefensible. More than anything no correctional drill or facility can correct that.
He is who he is. Bynum has shown us all who he is and it is now up to Lakers brass to accept it and deal.
Meanwhile, Pau Gasol’s game seven reiterated that he is again one of the best Robins to ever play the game. However, his season of inconsistency and his playoff games of irrelevance have confirmed it is time to move the Spaniard.
The last major question was thought to have been solved with the preseason acquisition of point guard Chris Paul, yet Paul never made it to the Laker’s locker room. Instead the dynamo was redirected to Clipperville. That move provided Los Angeles with the ultimate booby prize in Ramon Sessions.
The career back-up hit LA with a bang and had the streets all a buzz. The problem was the season did not end at that point and since then Sessions has returned to who he has always been, a career backup. Sessions has always struggled to play defense is has never been a proficient outside shooter.
Now the Purple and Gold head to Oklahoma City ready to prove that the things we have all witnessed this season are not fact. They now head to OKC and fans are hoping to see a Lakers club that differs from the one that eventually showed up against the Nuggets. Therein lies the problem, the Lakers that showed up against the Nuggets are the 2011-2012 Los Angeles Lakers.
The hope is Kobe will defend Westbrook and stop his penetration, the hope is Bynum will dominate the walking hooptie that is Kendrick Perkins, and the hope is Gasol will draw Serge Ibaka from the basket and thus stifle his shot-blocking ability. The truth of the situation is hope leaves when reality walks in.
The reality is this group has struggled to consistently accomplish those things all season, so it is foolish to think they will play that way now. It is difficult to expect to LA to change their flow mid verse against a better emcee. Oklahoma City will beat the Lakers not because they hope to be something they are not, but because they are who they have been all season which is a consistently better team.