Los Angeles Lakers: reserve

Countdown to Christmas: Bench Boss

December, 16, 2011
12/16/11
9:19
AM PT
Kamenetzky By Andy Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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If you can't have Lamar Odom running your bench, how does one of his close friends since childhood grab you?

Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images
Metta World Peace has a chance to flex his muscles as Bench Kahuna.



When I interviewed Metta World Peace this offseason during a "Dancing With the Stars" rehearsal, the small forward said he "wouldn’t be surprised if [Mike Brown] brings me off the bench." Well, as he revealed during Thursday's practice, this wasn't an attempt at clairvoyance, but rather coyness. This plan was hatched when the two spoke shortly after Brown was hired. Given MWP's less than stellar 2011 campaign, fans may assume this was a decision to improve the starting lineup. (For now, Brown says, the starting gig is a three-way race between Matt Barnes, Devin Ebanks and Luke Walton.) But as both explained, it's actually about creating a better second unit and hopefully a better version of Metta.

“I think we need to bolster our bench," Brown explained. "I think we need to able to have certain guys we can play through and I think at times, we can play through [World Peace]. Not only that, my opinion is if he’s with the starting group, there’s one basketball. I got three guys [Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum] that need touches. I got three guys in that starting unit that are post-up guys. With my second unit, [World Peace] will be one of my main guys. He’ll be one of my main post-up guys."

Added Metta: "It’s going to be good. … I get a chance to come in and have some more responsibility, which I’ve had my whole career. So it’s going to put the other team off balance because when Kobe, Pau and Bynum are out, you still got to double-team me on the block. You can’t leave me open. So at all times on the floor there’s going to be a threat. You can’t leave me on the block by myself, you can’t."

Will this plan prove effective? That remains to be seen. But on paper, thinking about the bench's needs, along with Metta's, it actually makes sense.

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2011 roster breakdown: Steve Blake

August, 23, 2010
8/23/10
12:26
AM PT
Kamenetzky By Andy Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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As part of our look ahead at the Lakers' projected roster next season, we continue to work our way from the bottom to the top of the rotation. Next up...

Player
Steve Blake

Salary

$ 4,000,000

Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images
Steve Blake could be elbowing Derek Fisher out of some PT.



Role For The Lakers In 2010-11
When Derek Fisher returned to the Lakers in 2008, it was assumed he would initially start, but the bulk of the minutes would gradually be eaten by either Jordan Farmar, (at the time) Javaris Crittenton, or (the following year) Shannon Brown. The thinking was, one of those players would surely emerge as an heir apparent, and Fisher would begin transitioning into the "more of a veteran presence" stage of his career. Three years (and a new contract) later, the starting gig still must be pried from Fisher's hands, while Farmar is in New Jersey, Crittenton is unemployed and Shannon Brown remains a Laker, but is no longer being groomed as a point guard. Fisher's playoff heroics and speechifying powers cemented his already-obvious value, but his shaky regular season reinforced the need for a capable hand to help carry a reasonable load.

Blake will get a shot, and I think the Lakers have finally landed the right guy. (At the very least, they landed a guy who has made a career out of bringing his best against the Lakers, so a semi-thorn in the side has been removed.)

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SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Kobe Bryant
PTS AST STL MIN
24.6 4.9 1.4 35.4
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 8.3
AssistsK. Bryant 4.9
StealsR. Price 1.4
BlocksE. Davis 1.2