By Mr. Elliott Teaford GOAT Laker Beat Writer
OVERVIEW: Center/power forward Pau Gasol credited a new and improved weightlifting program with making him stronger this season. He was able to battle bigger, stronger opponents in the paint with more success, mixing a little more brawn to go with the brains. He averaged 18.9 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 81 regular-season games, including 32 games at center while Andrew Bynum recovered from a torn knee ligament. Gasol then averaged 18.3 points, 10.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists during the playoffs, when he helped the Lakers to the title by jousting successfully with Orlando's Dwight Howard. Gasol joined an impressive list of Lakers centers to win NBA championships: Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O'Neal.
QUOTEWORTHY: "I think this year I was able to get myself ready mentally and physically. And I was able to deliver very well throughout the playoffs and help my team conquer the championship. So, it's been a beautiful, amazing year and I'll never forget it."
STRENGTH: Passing ability ranks with the best big men in recent history.
WEAKNESS: He still must get stronger around the basket.
Fisher has been struggling for a huge part of the season.
I think B is just the right grade because of how he redeemed himself.
Well, I do not know if 2 shots alone in 1 game are enough to redeem his performance the entire 82 game reg season (with the exception of about 10 reg season games) and also the entire playoffs (with the exception of about 3-4 playoff games)... I personally think that his performance for the season earns him a C but his leadership brings him up to C+ and his classiness brings him up to a final grade of B-.
BTW - do not forget that we were not in a MUST-WIN situation in game 4. This is not exactly relevant; just saying that Fisher's shots were clutch as hell but slightly overrated. Most people will probably completely disagree here, but that is just my view. I think we would have won the series even if we lost game 4.
OVERVIEW: Backup center DJ Mbenga played only 23 games during the regular season and seven in the playoffs. He averaged 2.7 points and 1.3 rebounds during the regular season and 0.3 points and 0.4 rebounds in the playoffs. He was invaluable as a practice player, however, sharpening the skills of the Lakers' big men. He battled with Andrew Bynum, Chris Mihm (before he was traded Feb. 18 to Memphis) and Pau Gasol in the paint all season during practices. They all were better for the competition.
QUOTEWORTHY: "They (the Lakers) are really happy the way I progressed. They believe and hope if I keep working, I can make more happen."
STRENGTH: Size and strength are formidable weapons.
WEAKNESS: Still lacks polish at both ends of the floor.
CONTRACT STATUS: Signed through 2009-10 (team option).
I'd like to point out how we take for granted the hidden heroes on a team, glad mr. teaford gives DJ credit for what he brings to the team when the TV cameras are turned off
OVERVIEW: Backup forward Adam Morrison joined the Lakers in the deal that sent Vladimir Radmanovic to the Charlotte Bobcats on Feb. 7. Morrison only played in eight games with the Lakers, averaging 1.3 points. He didn't play at all during the playoffs and he remains something of a mystery. After sitting out all of 2007-08 because of a knee injury, he quickly became expendable in Charlotte. He hardly played a minute after he was traded to the Lakers and it's unclear what his role might be next season.
STRENGTH: Has the potential to be a fine perimeter shooter.
WEAKNESS: Hasn't accomplished much of anything in three NBA seasons.
OVERVIEW: Sixth man Lamar Odom accepted a lesser role in order to help the Lakers be a deeper, stronger team. He moved from a starting spot to a backup role to start the season, and then returned to a starting job when Andrew Bynum injured his knee Jan. 31. Then he went back to the bench when Bynum returned to the active roster with four games remaining in the regular season. Odom is nothing if not versatile. He averaged 11.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 78 regular-season games. He then averaged 12.3 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 23 playoff games. His scoring average was the lowest of his career, but he was never more valuable to the Lakers than in 2008-09. He is an unrestricted free agent and the Lakers hope to re-sign him as soon as possible.
QUOTEWORTHY: "It (the last five seasons) seems like it went by so fast, from not making the playoffs to winning the championship to being an unrestricted free agent with the opportunity to move (to another team). It feels a little surreal."
STRENGTH: Capable of playing all five positions in any given circumstance.
WEAKNESS: Too willing to let others dictate play when he should do it himself.
OVERVIEW: Backup power forward Josh Powell stepped into a void created when the energetic, funny-loving Ronny Turiaf signed last summer with the Golden State Warriors as a free agent. It was a difficult role to fill, one that wasn't nearly as large as it was while Turiaf was with the Lakers, but the more sedate Powell had his moments. He averaged 4.2 points and 2.9 rebounds in 60 games after signing as a free agent in the summer of 2008. He made one start while Lamar Odom was suspended for a game and scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the Lakers' victory March 11 over the Houston Rockets. He also averaged 2.1 points and 1.2 rebounds in 14 playoff games.
STRENGTH: Nice, soft touch on his mid-range jump shot.
WEAKNESS: Needs to find ways to get more shots because he's a fine shooter.
OVERVIEW: Backup guard Sun Yue had a limited impact in his rookie season, averaging 0.6 points and 0.2 assists in 2.8 minutes in 10 games. He also played six games in two stints with the D-Fenders, the Lakers' developmental league team, and averaged 9.8 points and 3.7 assists in 33.3 minutes. Sun then suffered what turned out to be a season-ending sprained left ankle. He is playing with the Chinese national team this summer, rather than joining the Lakers' summer league team in Las Vegas. The Lakers have an Aug. 1 deadline to decide whether to terminate his contract for next season. It's possible they might exercise that option and allow Sun to sign with a team that might give him a better chance to play next season. The Lakers' roster is loaded with talent.
STRENGTH: He's still a relatively young player (23) with obvious skills.
WEAKNESS: Hard to tell since he hardly played at all in 2008-09.
CONTRACT STATUS: Signed through 2009-10 (not guaranteed).
OVERVIEW: Reserve guard Sasha Vujacic spent most of the season looking for his absent shooting touch. It went missing not long after he suffered a sprained ankle during training camp, and he never could find it. Vujacic averaged 5.8 points on 38 percent shooting, down from an average of 8.8 points on 45 percent shooting in 2007-08. He averaged three points on 26 percent shooting in the playoffs, when his playing time dropped from an average of 16 minutes during the regular season to only 11 minutes. The Lakers suggested that Vujacic spend some time away from the gym during the offseason. They thought it would be a good idea for him to clear his head. He plans to play for his native Slovenia in the European Championships in September in Poland.
QUOTEWORTHY: "I make no promises now, but I'm going to do it (improve his overall game next season) on the court."
STRENGTH: Has the ability to be an above-average perimeter shooter.
WEAKNESS: Seems to be in too much of a hurry to launch his jump shot.