The Lakers will NOT win the 2009 NBA Championship because:
- Andrew Bynum will overexert himself in the summer and reaggravate his knee injury.
In Bynum's exit interview with the media he said he would be ready to begin running in early July and from that point on he hopes to work with the same personal trainer that he did last summer (READ: the guy who helped Bynum bulk up and become the up-and-coming superstar center that we witnessed early last season). The first thing that comes to mind for me is whether he will be cautious enough to take the appropriate precautions so that he does not reaggrevate his serious injuries from last year. If he doesn't the Lakers may have to make due with what they had last season.
- Mitch Kupchak does not make any strategic veteran acquisitions.
One of the greatest changes Kupchak made in the last couple of seasons outside (1) the acquisition of Pau Gasol and (2) not trading away Andrew Bynum was signing Derek Fisher. Fisher brought veteran leadership to one of the league's youngest teams and acted as a mentor for some of the Lakers' young guards (Sasha and Jordan). If the Lakers are to win the championship next year, they very well may need to take a page out of the Celtics' book and sign a strong, savvy veteran PF or SF to handle the physical attacks that opponents will bring at them. The league knows now that strong, tough, physical defense can slow down the Lakers, so LA will have to preempt these new schemes my getting bigger, more aggressive veteran players that can play big in the middle.
- Kobe Bryant doesn't have enough in the tank/can't recover from pinkie injury.
Lets face it. Kobe Bryant has probably played more regular season, postseason and USA team games the last 10 years than any player in the NBA. He's also a ferocious gym rat when he's not "in season" (if you can ever say that). One might wonder how long Bryant can keep up such a torrid pace amid his increasing age and his minor injuries. If Bryant comes out sluggish in 2009 due to fatigue or he cannot sufficiently recover from an inevitable pinkie operation after the Olympics, the Lakers may have to begin the season without their superstar MVP, perhaps hampering their ability to win a championship.
- The West becomes too competitive.
The Lakers may improve 10 fold and still not win the 2009 NBA Championship if they simply cannot get out of their uber-competitive conference. At least 5 teams that I can think of in the West could have been in the Finals this year (and might have even matched up better against the C's) and if the competition increases, it just may be too difficult for the Lakers to get back to the Finals.
- Their team defense/physical toughness does not improve.
Phil Jackson probably realizes that team defense is probably the single most important thing he needs to teach to his young team this summer. The Lakers also need to improve their toughness around the basket, which I believe can only happen if Pau Gasol is "broken down" and rebuilt as a physical interior defender and post player (no more facing the basket).