The drama in the world of the Los Angeles Lakers never stops, and it will keep getting worse as the All-Star team on paper continues to struggle to compete with quality NBA teams and play down to the competition of inferior ones. With the news that Andrew Bynum is now out indefinitely for the Philadelphia 76ers, it’s clear that the Lakers got the better end of the deal as Bynum looks like he’ll never be as healthy as he was in the lockout-shortened, 66-game season.
Fast forward a bit to present day, and the reeling Lakers are 6-7 with superstar bigs who are underachieving. Pau Gasol and Howard have been no-shows through three games under new head coach Mike D’Antoni, they have looked ineffective on offense.
After the trade that rocked Lakers Nation brought the league’s best center to Los Angeles, one future Hall-of-Famer thought there were two that were better — Andrew Bynum and Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez. This season, it turns out there are four, and in terms of efficiency, Lopez isn’t one of them.
Lopez though, has been on a tear of late and has averaged 19.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game through 11 games. Shaq’s comments at the time were seen as outlandish, but it turns out that it may not be so far-fetched. The caveat here is that Howard isn’t right from a health standpoint, but will he ever be?
Through 13 games in 2012-13, Howard is only the fifth most efficient center in the league behind Anderson Varejao, Chris Bosh, Joakim Noah and Marc Gasol. Bynum hasn’t played a game this season, which is why the Lakers won the trade. But did the Lakers trade damaged goods for more of the same? Howard has looked like a shell of himself at times following back surgery, and fans have to wonder whether they will ever see the player that donned a Superman cape over All-Star weekend a few short years ago.
Fortunately, the Lakers don’t need him to be anything more than he has been in the past. The problem is that the team is regressing and looks as bad as ever. Coaching was never the problem, it was an issue of whether or not this group could mesh their styles of play together in order to compete with the NBA’s elite. At 6-7, that’s still very much in question for this team.
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