This year’s Los Angeles Lakers team is a lot like President Barack Obama’s administration: both need time to produce significant results.
Pau Gasol has yet to lace up the sneakers due to a hamstring injury; Ron Artest is in the process of meshing with the 12 returners and solidifying his role; and the Zen Master is feeling out his bench, searching for the right combination of players suitable for a run at a second straight title.
There are other question marks too, like Andrew Bynum’s ability to maintain his aggressive play and the void that is becoming the starting point guard position with the aging Derek Fisher, making it tough to put a finger on how lethal the Lakers truly are just five games into the season.
One thing is for certain: The Spaniard’s absence is certainly being felt on both sides of the ball. Through five games, the Lakers are tied for second-to-last in blocked shots (3.4/game), fourth in rebounds yielded (45.6/game) and 14th in scoring (100.2 points/game).
While those numbers will surely improve when Pau returns to the lineup, the Lakers’ ball control and free-throw shooting is cause for concern, regardless of Gasol’s inability to play. They’re averaging 17 turnovers per game and shooting 72 percent from the charity stripe, both of which are direct contributor’s to the loss column. Sure the Lakers have been able to dodge those bullets thus far, but unless they can find a way to harness these problems, it is only a matter of time until such deficiencies come back to bite the defending champs.
Even so, the Lakers are 4-1 and have won three straight, including overtime victories in back-to-back road games. What’s more, Gasol has been medically cleared to play and could make his regular-season debut as soon as Sunday.
You hear that?
It’s the Lakers’ championship-form time bomb ticking, and it’s just about ready to explode.
Josh Hoffman is a college junior working to become a sports journalist. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Written by Josh Hoffman