Hardwood Paroxysm Playoff Preview: Los Angeles Lakers

It’s hard to keep track of everything you need to know about all the teams in the playoffs. So we thought we’d do a quick and dirty playoff preview with our favorite bloggers. We asked a simple 20 Question survey to bloggers from all of the playoff teams, and got responses back from most of them. We continue our previews with the Los Angeles Lakers. Filling us in on the Showtime 2.0 crew are Josh Tucker from RespectKobe.com and Kurt from Forum Blue and Gold. Enjoy.

First up is Josh from RespectKobe.com

1. Team Name: L.A. Lakers
2. Biggest Star: Kobe Bryant. He’s played every single game this year, despite a plethora of personal injuries. He made Gasol’s transition seamless — something no other team that pulled off a blockbuster trade can claim — and has kept the Lakers in contention for first place in the West despite numerous lengthy injuries to key players.
3. Playoff Seed: #1 With A Bullet.
4. Mascot’s Name: Jack Nicholson
5. Best player: Kobe Bryant. How many players can take 7 fewer shots per game and still be second in the NBA in scoring? Meanwhile, his defense is once again at an All-NBA level.
6. Most important player: Lamar Odom. Kobe is Kobe, and always will be. He is the reason this team is what it is. Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, taking turns, have each been key to the Lakers success. But the goal that Kobe articulated at the beginning of training camp is to win a championship, and at least until we see if Bynum and Gasol can get on the court at the same time, Odom may be the X-Factor in making that possible.
7. Better at zone or man: Man, but even that has its weak moments. However, even with partial health (see: either Gasol or Bynum in the lineup), this Lakers team is a better defensive team than they receive credit for.
8. Grade your offense going into the playoffs: A. The only reason this team doesn’t get an A+ is its occasional tendency to launch too many outside shots. Aside from that — and it’s an issue they struggle with much less when Gasol or Bynum is in the lineup — offense is not the problem for these Lakers.
9. Grade your defense going into the playoffs: B-. Currently, plenty of room for improvement. The Lakers need a lot of improvement in pick and roll situations. However, the eventual return of Bynum, giving the Lakers a 20’10” front court of Bynum, Gasol, and Odom, will go a long ways towards making this team better than expected on the defensive end. At that point, the main difference between the Lakers and the Spurs and Celtics may not be their ability to shut a team down when necessary, but their willingness to do it even when the need is less strongly felt.
10. Worst player: DJ Mbenga. He’s a big body that gives our limited bigs a rest when needed, but effective he’s usually not.
11. Glue guy: Derek Fisher. I couldn’t say enough about his quiet leadership and calming ability. Perhaps most importantly, he provides an ally and a friend for Kobe Bryant.
12. Five words to describe the team heading into the playoffs: You’d rather see San Antonio.
13. Best-case scenario: Kobe as regular season MVP, Lakers as 2008 Champions, no more injuries, lots of rest, and the beginning of a new dynasty.
14. Worst case scenario: Kobe further injures pinky, Bynum returns too soon and re-injures his knee, and yet another first round exit.
15. First player that comes to mind, “Thunder”: Andrew Bynum. When he’s healthy, he’s quickly becoming a powerful force in the middle.
16. First player that comes to mind, “Twinkie”: Luke Walton. Good in moderation, sickening in excess.
17. Current emotion you feel about this team: Hopeful, excited. What else can I say when the Lakers seem to be the only team to be completely loaded in the present and fully set for the future.
18. Team you don’t want to see in the next two months: Give us your best shot. Seriously. Maybe that should have been my answer for #17. And #12.
19. Team you want to see in the next two months: Phoenix is due some payback. But we wouldn’t mind the chance to make it clear that the Lakers, not the Hornets, are the best team in this conference. Give us New Orleans.
20. What food best describes this team?: Barbecue sauce, the duct tape of food. Is there anything it can’t do?

And finishing up is Kurt from Forum Blue and Gold

1. Team Name: Los Angeles Lakers
2. Biggest Star: Kwame Brown Kobe Bryant
3. Playoff Seed: #1
4. Mascot’s Name: Dyan Cannon (Jack’s too cool to be a mascot)
5. Best player: Kobe Bryant
6. Most important player: Pau Gasol (just to change things up)
7. Better at zone or man: Man to man, by a mile
8. Grade your offense going into the playoffs: A+
9. Grade your defense going into the playoffs: B (can be a C, can be an A,
depends on the day)
10. Worst player: Ira Newble, I guess
11. Glue guy: Lamar Odom, now that the pressure is off him being the #2 man
12. Five words to describe the team heading into the playoffs: Unstoppable
offense, but the defense….
13. Best-case scenario: NBA Champions
14. Worst case scenario: Gone in the first round
15. First player that comes to mind, “Thunder”: Kobe
16. First player that comes to mind, “Twinkie”: We shipped our twinkies to
Memphis
17. Current emotion you feel about this team: Deep and abiding love
18. Team you don’t want to see in the next two months: I don’t think the
Lakers fear anyone in the West, but I’ll say Utah
19. Team you want to see in the next two months: Denver, I guess
20. What food best describes this team?: Fried chicken and waffles

Hardwood Paroxysm