Down Goes Frazier
Two teams with NBA Championship hopes suffered big blows this past week with the Lakers losing Andrew Bynum for 2-3 months and Orlando losing Jameer Nelson, possibly for the rest of the year. Both teams will reach the playoffs, but the road to the top got much tougher.
Of the two, the Lakers are in better position to weather the storm. Not only do they have Kobe Bryant, they also boast a much deeper team. Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, and Trevor Ariza will have to step up their game. That’s exactly what they did in their first game without the big fella. Kobe Bryant did his part to assuage any fears by dropping 61 points on the Knicks. Pau Gasol contributed 31 points and 14 rebounds, well above the 17.8 & 9.1 he averages. Lamar Odom didn’t shoot well (2 of 9), but he did his best Bynum impersonation with 14 rebounds and 3 blocks. Ariza added 13 points and 8 rebounds. They did play the defenseless Knicks so temper your expectations, but you should see an increase in production from this quartet until Bynum returns.
Orlando is in more of a bind because Jameer made their Offense go. The scoring won’t be tough to replace as Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis will likely handle the scoring load. Hedo Turkoglu may see an increase in assists as he takes on more of a Point Forward role. Anthony Johnson will be thrust into the starting rotation and should see an small increase in production. Before you go rushing to the waiver wire to grab him, realize what you’re getting. A career backup/journeyman in his 12th year. If he’s available I’d prefer to grab Mickael Pietrus over Johnson. In his four games back he’s averaing around 29 minutes per game, 15.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.8 steals, and 1.0 three-pointer per night while shooting 50% from the floor and 86.7% from the line. Courtney Lee could handle the rock a little more and/or see a few more looks, but don’t expect a big spike in his play. J.J. Redick may see an increase in minutes, but not to the point of fantasy relevance. The Magic will likely bring in a PG, whether it’s a free agent or a trade. A name that’s floating out there is Stephon Marbury, though he and the Knicks have been at a stalemate for quite some time. There is also the chance that Jameer avoids surgery and is able to return in a few weeks. Stay tuned.