|2009-10 Team Rating|
|11th Overall||6th Overall|
2009-10 Season Stats
The Lakers are five-deep with potential starters: Pau Gasol, Ron Artest, Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom, Matt Barnes. That's a tremendous luxury, but also a necessity given Bynum's injury history.
Kobe Bryant is still great and Derek Fisher remains a clutch contributor, but only if their bodies allow it. Adding Steve Blake and re-signing Shannon Brown ensures depth at the point.
Bryant and Artest form what is probably the league's best wing tandem on defense, and now Barnes joins the mix. The Lakers were fifth in shooting defense last season.
Odom is an enviable first option. Then, with no incumbent starters leaving, the Lakers were aggressive in the offseason in solidifying the second unit, most notably signing Blake and Barnes.
The summer would have been a success even without the positive lineup adjustments, as long as Phil Jackson returned. Once he committed to 2010-11, stability and sideline experience was ensured.
The advantage over the field in the West is so obvious that the standings debate heading into camp goes only as high up the food chain as picking the second-best team in the conference. The Lakers are obviously not loved by all, but it has become impossible for even their greatest detractors to disrespect them.
Not only is L.A. the two-time defending champion, with a third Finals appearance preceding that, but the summer moves were one direct hit after another: keeping Jackson, keeping Fisher's leadership and playoff magic, signing Blake as a safety net if Fisher falters, signing Barnes to address the possibility of Luke Walton missing the entire season with a back injury. The Lakers didn't just hold the line. They pushed it out even more.
-- Scott Howard-Cooper
Explanation of Marking System
|Golden State Warriors||D+|
|Los Angeles Clippers||C|
|Los Angeles Lakers||A|
|New Jersey Nets||B|
|New Orleans Hornets||C|
|New York Knicks||B|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||A|
|Portland Trail Blazers||B|
|San Antonio Spurs||B+|