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9 Los Angeles Lakers
Jack McCallum
October 29, 2007
Will their young center mature into the Kobe-approved player he needs to be?
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October 29, 2007

9 Los Angeles Lakers

Will their young center mature into the Kobe-approved player he needs to be?

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One presumes that he will hold his ground, too, in the battle for a starting position, if one can call anything that involves Kwame Brown a battle. Chris Mihm, back from right ankle surgery that caused him to miss last season, has joined the fray, but Bynum has more upside to his game.

No matter how well Bynum plays, though, trade rumors likely will dog him. Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal has expressed a desire to play in L.A. So have many others--with the notable exception of Bynum's most important critic, the teammate whose demanding standards he has to meet.

ENEMY LINES
An opposing team's scout sizes up the Lakers

The only good thing the Lakers have is Kobe Bryant, and he knows this is another year that he can't win it all. And that's all he cares about--winning the title. I don't like his poor supporting cast, and I don't like what his attitude will be as a result. . . . Their point guard situation is one of the worst in the league. None of them has a strong personality, no one has blow-by speed, no one can knock it down, no one is a great on-ball defender. They're all backups. . . . I've soured on Lamar Odom. He has the body and the tools, but does he have the heart to win? . . . Luke Walton is a 50-50 player who won't kill you, but he won't help you win games either. He's a do-nothing-wrong, do-nothing-right player as far as helping his team win. . . . It will be interesting to see how Phil Jackson handles things. He's used to being in the NBA Finals and deep in the playoffs, and with his ego I can't see that he's going to like being in this position where he has no chance.

FAST FACT

For the second season in a row Kobe Bryant led the NBA in scoring after the All-Star break, averaging 36.7 points in that time. That's the highest average since the league began tracking the stat in 1990-91.

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