When it was reported that the Los Angeles Lakers had traded for the best point guard in the NBA, Chris Paul not Steve Nash, Laker fans went nuts. The possibilities of Kobe Bryant and CP3 on the pick and roll were endless. Not to mention that they kept Andrew Bynum. Thus, they had the necessary tools to pull off a trade for Dwight Howard. The Lakers were looking like a team loaded, until David Stern crashed the party. As everybody now knows, David Stern pulled one of the worst moves in NBA commissioner history: vetoing a trade that his GM had given the approval of which ultimately damaged the Lakers organization.
The after effects of this trade are still being felt. The fragile psyche of Pau Gasol has been damaged ever since. The Lakers had to part ways with their best bench player, Lamar Odom. Additionally, Stern ended up hurting the team he was overseeing, the New Orleans Hornets, as the Lakers deal was far and away better than the Los Angeles Clippers. Stern finally saved face though when he rigged last years NBA draft to give the Hornets the No. 1 overall pick.
Getting back to the point of this article, Earl Clark. Clark was starting for the injured Pau Gasol, and doing a considerably good job. However, now he has been relegated to the bench, getting used to that role as well. Clark played well yesterday, providing 17 points, 12 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and 5 blocks. Seeing this type of play reminds me and probably many other people of the effect Lamar Odom used to have on the Lakers.
When Odom was on his game, the Lakers were a very tough team to beat. He was the Lakers X factor. But there was always one problem, Odom was very erratic, and unfortunately, so is Clark. You never know when Clark is going to show up. Sometimes he hurts the Lakers with his poor play, reminiscent of Odom. When Clark comes to a game mentally prepared (always a big problem with Odom), hitting his outside shots and playing aggressive defense, the Lakers can beat anyone. He provides the needed length and versatility to guard guys like Kevin Durant and LeBron James.
He also provides a good spark off the bench, like the five point one yesterday when the Dallas Mavericks had slimmed the Lakers lead to five. If the Lakers get into the playoffs — a big if — and Earl Clark displays some sort of consistency off the bench, the Lakers will be a tough out for any team regardless of their seeding.
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