L.A. Lakers: Andrew Bynum, Ron Artest Are Turning the Finesse Theory Upside Down

The Los Angeles Lakers under Phil Jackson's tutelage have had some pretty good defenses, but they have always been defined by the precision and rhythm of the triangle offense.

Since 2008, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol have directed the Lakers offense from the perimeter and paint, respectively, and at times it has resembled poetry in motion.

Gasol and Bryant possess the skill and intelligence to bring Jackson's concept to life, but during this period the Lakers have also gained the reputation of being a team dependent on its finesse style of play.

Sometimes, to a fault.

In 2008, the Lakers were bombed in the Finals by a Boston Celtics team that physically overwhelmed them.

The Celtics' defenders ganged up on Bryant and pushed Gasol out of his comfort zone on the way to a surprisingly easy championship victory in six games.

The Lakers vowed to toughen up after their physical humiliation at the hands of the Celtics, and by all accounts they did. The truth of their improvement, however, is more than likely found in a player who was absent in 2008.

Lakers fans like to throw around the fact that since Gasol joined the team they haven't missed an NBA Finals, but it's also true that the Lakers have yet to lose a Finals series that center Andrew Bynum has participated in.

Bynum's presence in the 2009 Finals series against Orlando is underrated for the simple fact that he served as an extra body to wear down center Dwight Howard.

Bynum's defense on Howard allowed Gasol to conserve most of his energy for the offensive end of the floor, which helped make the Lakers a much more efficient team.

There would be no underestimating Bynum in last year's Finals rematch with the Celtics, as his presence was one of the definitive reasons the Lakers were able to escape with a seven-game victory in the series.

Bynum's size and toughness provided the Lakers with an...

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