The LA Times is reporting that Andrew Bynum injured his right elbow during last night’s Lakers overtime victory versus the Houston Rockets. With Pau Gasol still listed as “doubtful” for Friday’s matchup against the Grizzlies, fans are left to our wildest imaginations with regards to what Phil Jackson might do to put a team on the court capable of victory. Let’s explore!
The easiest and obvious solution is to start fan-favorite DJ Mbenga. Mbenga could see the majority of the minutes at center with Josh Powell subbing in for him. I believe I’m in the minority here, but I’m not a fan of DJ’s style. He tends to seem either nervous or confused on the court and shoots when he gets the ball without reading the floor to look for cutting teammates. His shot-blocking ability is a huge plus, but I liken him to a slightly less skilled version of Denver’s Chris Anderson. Going up against a skilled center like Marc Gasol will prove an enormous challenge for him, and I wouldn’t expect him to see too many touches on the offensive end.
An idea thrown around by the LA Times is going with a smaller lineup and playing Lamar Odom at center. I cannot say how much I loathe the thought of this. Lamar has developed an extremely well-rounded game and has especially focused on his perimeter shots in recent years. Playing the center position forces him to focus on his post-up game against a much larger Marc Gasol. While Lamar’s length would help, I think Gasol would ultimately be the victor in the post-up battle and the effort would be a failure overall.
Josh Powell could get the start as well. J-Peezy, as he’s also known, has expanded his range significantly- seemingly overnight. His post-up game, however, leaves something to be desired. It seems like he gets caught by larger defenders who out-muscle him and get easy blocks. Marc Gasol would flat out dominate Powell if J-Peezy tried to work him in the low post. I’d assume he wouldn’t, though it leaves a hole in the triangle that would need to be filled by an Odom or Artest.
Speaking of Ron Artest, why not start him at center? 6’7″, 260lbs, moves like a freight train. Sure he’s undersized for the position, but aside from his jumping ability I’d give him the best chance offensively in the low post. Defensively he can definitely body-up his man and get some help defense from Odom when Gasol tries to go over him. I hate to say it but I actually like this option the most. Luke Walton could join the starting five in this scenario, a position he is extremely comfortable with already.
Regardless of what the Lakers do, it will be a VERY interesting game. This injury only heightens the exposure of the Lakers main weakness this season: a complete lack of depth in the front court.
A healthy Laker team is easily the front runner for the championship. Injuries, especially in the front court, change things dramatically.
Perhaps Mitch Kupchak will take a look at Andrew Ungvari’s post over at SirCharlesInCharge.com about possible solutions to this weakness. We can only hope.