Are Josh Powell and DJ Mbenga The Keys To an Improved LA Lakers’ Bench?

The Los Angeles Lakers appear to have struck gold with rookies forward Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter, and recent free agency signee Steve Blake should be an upgrade over the departed Jordan Farmar, so by all accounts the Lakers' bench should be improved next season.

Lamar Odom is back to lead the reserve unit, and the Lakers can also utilize Shannon Brown, Sasha Vujacic, and Luke Walton, but the development of Josh Powell and DJ Mbenga could determine how good the Lakers' bench really is.

Powell and Mbenga have languished on the end of the Lakers' bench for the past two seasons, despite each player displaying glimpses of tantalizing potential when given the opportunity to play.

Mbenga is more of a project than Powell, but his seven foot frame, athleticism, and agility makes him an interesting prospect, if he could ever show any real progression in his game.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar served as a mentor and tutor to Lakers' center Andrew Bynum, and I can only question why Mbenga didn't choose to sit in on some of their sessions.

Mbenga is more athletic than Bynum, he could be stronger and he doesn't get injured with the same frequency, but he has none of the basic fundamental skills that Bynum has acquired.

Although he has a strong seven-foot frame, Mbenga seems to fancy himself as a jump shooter, and he is much more comfortable facing the rim than playing with his back to the rim.

Mbenga also seems lost at times on the defensive end of the floor, although he has the potential to be a shot-blocking force if he could work on his timing and defensive principles.

Powell has none of Mbenga's fundamental flaws, and his only knock may be his decision to leave college early when his game could have used some more fine-tuning.

Powell is also a good athlete, and even though he is not over-powering at six-foot nine, he has a knack for getting excellent position for reb...

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