Theo Ratliff, a 6’10” center, replaces DJ Mbenga as the back-up to the back-up.  Some of my friends didn’t particularly like Mbenga, who played on average 7 minutes per game, scoring 2 points, grabbing 2 rebounds while shooting 47% from the field in 49 games.   Last season, Ratliff averaged 16 minutes per game, scoring 3.5 points, grabbing 3 rebounds while shooting 46% in the same number of games.  Had the Lakers kept Mbenga, the advantage would have been that he is only 30 and knows the triangle offense, his teammates and the coaches.  Ratliff is 37 and playing for his 9th team in his 16th year as a pro, after 4 years of college ball in Wyoming.  The guy has been traded for Jerry Stackhouse, Dikembe Mutombo, Rasheed Wallace and Kevin Garnett as part of multiple-player packages over his career.  The Laker bench was weak last season, either due to injuries or personnel (Hello, Adam Morrison!), and did a poor job of maintaining leads, let alone increasing them.  Ratliff is renowned as being a shot blocker, which may stop opposing players from driving to the rim as frequently and easily as they did last season while the bench was on the floor.  With 1,963 blocks, Ratliff ranks 18th in NBA history for career blocks.  He needs to realize it’s not important for him to be taking a lot of shots when he comes in.  It’s defense and rebounding that wins championships, so focus on those two areas.  An improved bench will allow the Laker starters to have more rest over the grind that is the NBA regular season.  Given their veteran status, this is an important component in the Laker’s bid to three-peat.  Because Magic Johnson was Ratliff’s boyhood idol, that makes him A-OK in my book.