Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol: Frontcourt Duo More Important Than Kobe Bryant?

Contrary to some people's opinions, the Los Angeles Lakers will contend for next season's NBA championship because they still have Kobe Bryant, and more importantly, the Lakers have what is arguably the league's top post tandem in center Andrew Bynum and forward Pau Gasol.

The Lakers were humiliated in the 2011 NBA Playoffs by the Dallas Mavericks, and even though that loss opened up a flood gate of issues surrounding the team, it doesn't diminish the fact that the Lakers will still be one of the NBA's most talented teams in 2011-12.

The Lakers certainly have some work to do in order to re-establish themselves as a clear Finals favorite, but the most crucial task for new head coach Mike Brown may be to make it crystal clear that the offense will revolve around Bynum and Gasol in the middle.

And that's no shot at Bryant, who is still the Lakers best player, but it will be easier for the team to transition to Brown's new offense by focusing on their greatest strength.

Last season, Gasol and Bynum averaged a combined 30.1 points per game, 19.6 rebounds and shot 54 percent from the field.

All of those numbers could increase next season if Gasol can find his mojo, Bynum can stay healthy and Brown makes his interior duo the team's primary offensive option.

I'm not sure what was bothering Gasol during the postseason, but his career-worst playoff performance should inspire him to work harder to prove that his 13 points per game and 42 percent shooting percentage from the field was just an anomaly.

The Lakers' championship hopes for 2011 were centered around the theory that Gasol would perform in the postseason just as he had in 2009 and 2010, and if you really peel back the layers, the team's loss to Dallas can be traced back to Gasol's disappearance.

Gasol was not the sole reason for the Lakers' loss because point guard defense did play a part, and Bryant was nowhere...

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