- Chris Palmer, ESPN the Magazine
The Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics, the league's two most storied franchises, have much in common, from a ceiling full of championship banners and the retired jerseys of Hall of Famers to annual sky-high expectations. This season they share another, less welcome distinction: They're two of the year's most disappointing teams.
Both have been dealt injury blows with the Celtics losing Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger for the season and the Lakers' Jordan Hill and Pau Gasol out indefinitely. But there's still time (albeit very little) to turn their respective ships around. Indeed, Boston already has seemingly adjusted, riding a five-game winning streak.
So let's key in on five players for each team (we've omitted Rondo, Gasol, Hill and Sullinger as they all -- save maybe Gasol -- will play no role going forward). We've graded their performances thus far and identified an adjustment they need to make to keep their postseason hopes alive.
Los Angeles Lakers
Bryant seems to have jump-started the Lakers season with his newfound willingness to pass. Despite all the new faces, Bryant still has scored effectively despite a ragged shooting night every third or fourth game. The Lakers are 0-9 when Bryant scores 35 or more points.
4dSteve Ilardi and Jeremias Engelmann