Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Conference Call West

Big Men, Big Expectations

Trade winds have blown the West wide open and time will tell which teams improved their chances of reaching the NBA Finals. Two clubs address the arrival of new Big Men on their websites, with the Lakers giddy about Pau and the Suns happy about Shaq.

"After making a large trade, many teams take weeks and sometimes, even months before they establish the proper chemistry. For the Lakers and Gasol, it has seemingly happened overnight," writes Jeff Skibiski on Lakers.com.

In addition to extolling the quickness, length, hands, passing and shooting of the Spanish Acquisition, Lakers.com gets to the crux of the matter: how a certain MVP candidate feels about the trade.

"Perhaps no one has benefited more from the addition of Gasol than Kobe Bryant. After years of calling for a bona fide second scorer, No. 24 finally got his wish when the Lakers brought Pau in from Memphis," observed Skibiski. "With Gasol joining Bryant — and Andrew Bynum when healthy — as one of the only players on the team capable of drawing a double team, Kobe has the perfect decoy."

Stefan Swiat on Suns.com crunches some early numbers regarding Shaq and the Suns.

"Since the addition of 'The Big Cactus,' the Suns have outrebounded their opponents by a differential of 15.5 boards a night," writes Swiat. "The Suns outrebounded the Lakers by 13, including nine more on the offensive glass, while they outboarded the Celtics 18. That's more than a 20-rebound turnaround."

Additionally, conventional wisdom that Phoenix would be forced to eschew it's favored fastbreak game has thus far proven false.

"In their first two games, [the Suns] have registered an average of 22 fast-break points a game, which would catapault them to tops in the league. Head Coach Mike D’Antoni believes that O’Neal can only increase the amount of scoring they do on the break. 'We should have more fast-break points with him here,' D’Antoni said. 'Our defense will be better, we’ll have cleaner rebounds and that will allow us to get out and run.'"

Get caught up on all the happenings around the West, including the Mavs, in the "The Conference Call West: February 26, 2008" on NBA.com.

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