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Westsider Rider

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The West just got tougher

Last year at this time, no one really cared about the draft lottery and it didn't matter if you got #1 or not. Andrea Bargnani was nothing to get excited about. That changed this year with two potential franchise players coming into the draft in Kevin Durant and Greg Oden. The lottery was a major event and would immediately help two struggling franchises. Except most expected those two teams to be Memphis and Boston. Instead it turned out to be Portland and Seattle. Regardless of who Portland takes and leaves for Seattle, it means that the two best players in this draft are not only coming into the Western Conference but the Pacific Division.

Portland is already a good young team and is only getting better with their luck. Throw in Oden with Lamarcus Aldridge, Jarrett Jack, Brandon Roy and Zach Randolph and that is a very good lineup. Although this could allow the Blazer front office to move Randolph which is very possible, maybe even to the Lakers. Then Seattle with Ray Allen and Kevin Durant, and possibly Rashard Lewis, although I would assume they would try to move Lewis in a sign and trade considering he wants a big contract and since they Durant and Lewis have somewhat similar type games. So it makes the already difficult Western Conference that much tougher and since they are both in the Lakers division that means those 8 games a year are now more difficult. Also Memphis slipping to 4 may just begin the start of the rebuilding process there and they may be willing to move Pau Gasol.

Now where does that leave the Lakers in this offseason where they need to make some major changes if they are to compete for a title? I don't know. Bringing Oden into the division could make the Lakers front office realize they'll need a low post presence and end up keeping Bynum because of it. On the other hand it could make the team think that Oden will need a couple years to be brought up to speed before he becomes the dominant force that many believe he will and the front office could sacrifice the future for the present realizing their window is very small. Who knows what Lakers management is thinking, all I know is that sure it may have hurt the Lakers to get both of these great talents into the Pacific Division but at least it provides a greater sense of urgency knowing that everyone else in the division is getting better and if the Lakers even want to make the playoffs they will have to make some big time moves.

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