It's not too late. Play Drive to the Finals Now!

By Jon Loomer

Previous Expert Picks

May 6 - We've got a challenge on our hands for today, my friends. I'm up for it, are you?

So here we have it. Game 7 of the Suns and Lakers. No other choices, so this is it. Let's take a look at the players we have used so far from these teams:

Phoenix Suns: Shawn Marion, Steve Nash
Los Angeles Lakers: No One

This is one of those games that can make your head spin when thinking of the right thing to do for Drive to the Finals. On one hand, we could pick another Suns player and go with Boris Diaw. The man has been fantastic during the post-season, averaging 17.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 5.5 assists. What that means to us is close to 30 RPA per game.

Today's Expert Pick
Player: Kobe Bryant, LAL
Opponent: Phoenix
Regular Season Averages
May 5 -- Now What?
May 3 -- He Did What?
May 1 -- Just Getting Interesting
April 29 -- Adjusting On the Fly
April 25 -- No Doubt
April 24 -- Break Out the Abacus
April 23 -- Let's Roll
April 22 -- The Clock Ticks
Ok, let's say I pick Diaw. The game is at Phoenix, so you have to say the Suns are the favorite. If the Suns win, we "Experts" will have the following Suns players to choose from next round:

Raja Bell
Leandro Barbosa
Tim Thomas
James Jones
Eddie House

In reality, we have three marginal choices and two who we'd only pick out of sheer desperation. If the Suns win, they'll be facing the Clippers next round. The Clippers have proven to be legit, but the Suns would have the home court. So it is entirely possible that the five players I just listed will need to last us at least two more rounds. If we pick Diaw and the Suns lose, everyone's happy. If they win, not a disaster, but we aren't exactly making things easy for ourselves.

Now, the Suns do not have a guaranteed win here. To accomplish this, they'd need to beat Kobe Bryant and the Lakers for a third consecutive time. Hard to ever count out Kobe. As noted earlier, we have all Lakers at our disposal. On one hand, that is a benefit. However, there are far fewer fantasy-worthy players on the Lakers roster.

Let's say I pick Kobe Bryant. If I'm going to pick a player from a certain team, I am starting from the top. No need to mess around. If I pick Bryant and the Lakers advance, I will have the following players available next round against the Clippers:

Lamar Odom
Smush Parker
Kwame Brown
Brian Cook
Devean George
Luke Walton
Sasha Vujacic

Kobe is all alone among today's choices.
Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images
Odom is a nice option to still have available, but after that it begins to get ugly in a hurry. Once again, the Lakers would have a decent chance to advance to the Conference Finals, and these are the players who we would need to take with us.

Like I said, we're not making things easy for ourselves, are we? In the end, the ultimate risk is reserving Kobe because we have confidence in the Lakers. If they win, it's a great roll of the dice. If they lose, we just lost 50 or so PRA that is very difficult to get from our remaining players.

What is the most likely scenario? Not by a wide margin, but Suns win. And if we pick Kobe, we reap the benefits: We get Kobe's 50 or so PRA and we have Boris Diaw et al available for the next round plus.

The risk is that the Lakers advance to the NBA Finals and we are stuck with nothing to pick from. That indeed is a risk. However, the bigger risk is losing out on Kobe while simultaneously limiting our Suns player pool over the next round plus.

This thing is crystal clear. I'm picking Kobe.