Sunday, June 1, 2008

Five reasons the Lakers will win the NBA Championship:

  1. Kobe Bryant. Kobe is the best player in basketball and his will to win is unmatched by anyone in the NBA. We haven’t seen a player so determined to win since Michael Jordan. He has elevated his game this season at the expense of scoring – he does not automatically take over games in the fourth quarter, keeping defenses honest by playing everyone on the court. It was easier for teams to guard Kobe knowing he would shoot every time. Boston no longer has that luxury. In a game 7 I might bet on Kobe against Boston if he had to go it alone – he’s that determined to win.
  2. Ball movement. The Lakers have the best ball movement in the NBA. No team can pass the way LA can. Everyone on this team is a very good passer. The triangle offense has become much more dynamic with Gasol in the middle because of his passing and movement without the ball. The Spurs are one of the best defensive teams in the league and they were consistently scrambling to follow the ball against L.A. Los Angeles can move the ball well enough to outplay Boston’s touted defense.
  3. Coaching. Are you kidding? This is the biggest mismatch in Finals history – Jackson vs. Rivers. Phil has forgotten more about basketball than Doc knows. The Lakers will be more prepared than will Boston. Phil had 9 rings. 9! That is insane. Phil gives the Lakers an almost unfair advantage.
  4. Bench. The Lakers play so well together as a team and they lose very little when the bench players come in - actually they often build or expand leads with their bench. Vujacic, Walton, Turiaf, Farmar. These guys play so well together that Boston will need to play their starters extended minutes so they don’t get behind. The Boston bench isn’t even close to as productive as the Lakers’ bench.
  5. Derek Fisher. If you don’t think Fisher has played a huge role in the Lakers transformation you’re fooling yourself. Look at what Fisher’s tutelage did for Deron Williams while Fisher was in Utah—Deron is now one of the 2 or 3 best point guards in the league. Look at the improvement of Farmar and Vujacic from last season to this. Fisher is the one player on the team that Kobe trusted going into the season and Fisher has helped cultivate Kobe’s trust in their teammates. Fisher is a calming influence for this team, and his championship experience and leadership will make the difference for LA. He's also a solid defender who may be able to match up well at times with Paul Pierce.

Next up: Why the Celtics will win.