L.A. Lakers: Will Their Struggles End Once Andrew Bynum Returns?

According to the latest reports from inside the L.A. Lakers organization, the team's starting center, Andrew Bynum, is expected to make his return on Tuesday in a game against the Washington Wizards.

Bynum will be a welcomed sight to the Lakers, who have struggled to protect the paint in recent weeks in his absence, as forwards Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, have been forced to play extended minutes to compensate for the team's current lack of front court depth.

 Many Lakers fans have glossed over the team's issues by asserting that once Bynum returns, the team's rotation will be strengthened with Odom returning to the bench and the team's enforcer and defensive stopper mining the paint. Consequently, Bynum will cure all that ails the Lakers at present.

But will the Lakers struggles simply evaporate once one player returns to the lineup? And if Bynum's absence is the primary culprit for the Lakers struggles, doesn't that call into question the universal belief that they are the "deepest team in the league?"

Seriously, teams go without key players all the time and they still find ways to get more production from other areas. However, when I watch Lakers games of late, I have noticed many glaring issues that must be corrected even if Bynum returns.

The first issue is perimeter shooting. The Lakers are really struggling to keep defenses honest when all the focus has turned to Gasol or Kobe Bryant as no one has yet emerged as a steady, reliable threat from the field. Shannon Brown started the season on a tear, but in recent games he has not shot the ball well. He is 3-12 in his last two games and seems reluctant to use his athleticism.

Derek Fisher and Steve Blake are shooting barely 40% from the field on the season. One would presume this may improve once Bynum returns, as more open looks could lead to a higher field goal percentage, but right now these guys are still trying to find their...

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