• Westbrook vs Nash
- With the addition of Steve Nash the Lakers can now have more fluidity in their offense, we have seen too many times the Lakers offense become stagnate and end up giving the ball to Kobe to play some hero ball. Nash brings the Lakers offense better pick & roll/ pick & pop lethality with D12 and Gasol being the beneficiaries. Also he brings to the table deadly 3pt shooting and relief for Kobe who doesn’t have to carry the team in terms of scoring, now in the 4th quarter the Lakers have another scoring threat. But even that is not enough in this matchup because as we all watched last year Westbrook was the Lakers worst nightmare. I like Nash but he doesn’t have a lick of defense and will get abused if he is matched up on Westbrook, he is too fast/quick/strong for him. He will continue to do his patented pull up jumper from the elbow and attacking the rim (even with D12 patrolling the paint). On the defensive end he can make it difficult for Nash, I’m not saying he is going to be on-ball stripping Nash like he was doing to players in the London Olympics but his on-ball pressure and intensity could make Nash less comfortable bringing the ball up the court and running the Lakers offensive sets.
- Westbrook obviously
• Sefolosha vs Kobe
- I’ll be quick with this one. Sefolosha is one of the premier perimeter defenders and he actually plays Kobe well on a number of occasions, but Kobe is Kobe and whenever he is on the court he is the biggest threat to opposing teams when they play the Lakers.
- Kobe obviously
• Durant vs Ron Artest ( I refuse to call this ***** Metta World Peace)
- Now if this was 03-04 Artest we could entertain this matchup and I could go into detail but it’s not so I’ll try to keep this short. Ron Artest showed his offensive ineptitude vs the Thunder in last year’s playoffs going 17-45(38%) which I don’t really see changing if they matchup again. And as far as him stopping the best scorer in the world… not happening, the only thing he can hope for is to limit the damage (in Durant terms that’s like 27 points
- Durant obviously
• Ibaka vs Gasol
- This is probably the closest matchup in the starting 5. Gasol has frequently showed the ability to be able to stretch the defense and hit the deep mid-range shots which we seen in last NBA Finals, it was a problem for the OKC bigs because they wanted to pack the paint to stop LeBron and Wade which let open jumpers for Bosh. The same thing can happen if they face OKC this upcoming year, Nash running the pick & roll/ pick & pop will force the OKC bigs to come out of the paint and play the screens could create open jumpshots for Gasol. Ibaka if guarding Gasol in the low post can make things difficult with his strength (Gasol is known to being soft if played tough), also Ibaka is steadily improving his jumper which the Lakers somewhat have to acknowledge. Ibaka’s athleticism is also an asset in this matchup; Gasol cannot keep up with his speed if the thunder gets out in transition which could lead to Ibaka getting some easy baskets.
- Gasol but by a narrow margin
• Perkins vs Howard
- Again I will try to be quick with this one because it’s quite obvious. Yes Perkins is one of the premier post defenders but how is that going to help him when D12 comes off of pick & rolls, alley-oops, transition, etc… D12 is too athletic for Perkins to stop all of this. The only thing Perkins has a chance in is guarding D12 in the low post and even that will be a huge challenge for Perkins to overcome. We don’t have to talk about Perkins offense because he simply doesn’t have it, also with the addition of D12 the Lakers Defense has dramatically improved with the best defender in the league protecting the paint (but he has to be careful not to get in foul trouble from Westbrook, Harden, and sometimes Durant attacking the paint).
- Howard obviously