Saturday, March 2, 2024

Lakers look set to repeat


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In the build-up to the 2012 Premier League season, NATION basketball correspondent Justin Marville concludes a team-by-team set of previews.
TEAM: Lumber Company Lakers
Head coach: Francis Williams
Last year’s record: 15-5 (second – regular season), (league champs – playoffs)
Average points per game: 76.4 (second)
Average points against: 65 (fourth)
Key additions: Akeem “Supa” Williams, Mark Bridgeman, Omari Corbin
Key losses: Derek Browne
THE RICH just keep getting richer in local basketball’s version of the House of Windsor, where the royal family has brought in more members in its quest of a dynasty.
As if the defending champs weren’t good enough already, they replace 40-year-old backup point guard Derek Browne with a top 20 player in Akeem Williams, and then add two other starting-quality players to an already loaded bench.
It means Lakers are now two players deep at every position, as the club possesses at least nine players that could start on any other Premier League side – though that could lead to an issue of rotating unavailable minutes for 13 good players.
With two worthy starting small forwards in Mark Bridgeman and Ian Alexander, coach Francis Williams will almost certainly abandon his previous three-guard line-ups, leaving either Adrian Allman or Keefe Birkett to come off the bench.
Allman has publicly stated his refusal to play as a reserve after “paying his dues”, but Birkett – the league’s best shooter – has never come off the pine in his Premier League career, so it creates a situation worth watching.
Lakers’ league-leading offence won’t miss a beat if either doesn’t start though, considering the wealth of offensive options, although just three of them (Andre Lockhart, Williams, Bridgeman) are capable of consistently creating their own shots.
As elite as it is, their offence can get a bit one-dimensional with the glut of jump shooters though, as even big men Ricardo Jemmott, Ormond Haynes and Matthew Moore look to get “theirs” via jumpers.
It bears watching what happens on nights when those shots aren’t falling and their guards are kept out of the open floor, considering Lakers don’t get that many free throws or points in the paint in their half court sets.
And they still have problems clearing the defensive glass and protecting the paint – issues that will certainly show up against Station Hill, Warrens and Pinelands.
Prediction: league champions
Consider it nitpicking with those aforementioned concerns, because Lakers have won titles playing that brand of basketball – and this brand is about to get even better.
This team is just way too talented, deep and disciplined not to repeat; so much so that I would be surprised if Lakers lose more than twice all season.


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