Season Preview: Los Angeles Lakers
- Updated: October 23, 2012
Last season, the Los Angeles Lakers finished 41-25, getting eliminated by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2nd Round. The Lakers decided to add some major pieces to their roster via trade. They traded for 38 year old point guard Steve Nash. Nash agreed to a three-year, $27 million contract. In return, the Suns got four draft picks, two being first rounders in 2013 and 2015, while the other two were second rounders in 2013 and 2014. After that addition to the roster you would think the Lakers would be done trying to get players, but no they went out and traded for the arguably the best Center in the NBA now. They go from having the number two Center in the NBA to the number one Center.
With the addition of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, the Lakers have one of the best starting 5 in the NBA, if not the best. What should really be interesting is watching the Princeton offense that the Lakers are preparing to run this season. For those unfamiliar with what the Princeton offense is, it is a style of play that relies on constant ball movement, swift passes and backdoor cuts. Dwight Howard’s main job in this offense will be to set screens, since he isn’t that good of a passer and he’ll do what he does best which is grabbing offensive rebounds to give his team extra possessions.
Mitch Kupchak on Is the starting five for this year’s Lakers team the best you have ever seen? “Certainly they’re an accomplished starting five. I wish they were all 22. I’d feel a lot better than I do, but I feel pretty good now.”
The Lakers’ bench look like it will improve with the additions of Earl Clark, Antawn Jamison, Jodie Meeks, and other guys.The Lakers finished last season with one of the worst bench units in the NBA. Management jumped into action in the off season and brought in several proven scorers, who should drastically help a group that last year was beyond horrible. Matt Barnes, at 7.8 ppg, was the leading bench scorer in 2011-12, with Steve Blake (5.2 on 38 percent shooting), Devin Ebanks (4.0), Troy Murphy (3.2) and Josh McRoberts(2.8) all contributing very little. A guy I can see being a good force off the bench that no one is talking about is 7’0″ Center out of Gonzaga Robert Sacre, he is doing pretty good in the preseason, he’s averaging 5.7 points per game, with 4.7 rebounds. He’s a good shot blocker, he can shoot free throws really good for a 7’0″ guy.
Who will get the most blame if the Lakers have a down year? Mike Brown will most likely get most of the blame if the Lakers don’t make it to the NBA Finals this season. Mike Brown has proven that he is a winner in the regular season, but it’s time for him to show the world that he can coach a team to the Finals and win it. Last season, Mike Brown was questioned a lot on why he benched Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant. What about the times when Kobe was the one taking control of the huddle, where was Mike Brown?
If the LA wants to win Kobe Bryant will have to take less shots, but if he takes the same amount of shots that he did last year he has to be have a higher FG %. With Steve Nash on the Lakers, Kobe will have to work off the ball more instead of just being in isolation plays, he will have to create off the dribble( cuts, screens, spot up). Kobe had one of the worst FG% of his career shooting .43 from the field. How about his 30.3 shooting percent from behind the arc? That’s the third-worst posting of his career, and the lowest he’s averaged in 10 years.Have Kobe shoot 18 times a game and I feel like that will be perfect amount of shots, due to his age and the talent surrounding him. The less tough shots Kobe takes the higher his shooting percentage will be, so I think Kobe’s shooting percentage will be better than what it was last year.
Another thing is, you can’t let Kobe play 38 minutes per game! I know Mike Brown didn’t trust the bench that much, but really 38 minutes for an old Kobe Bryant? At the end of the day it comes down to how the back-ups play. So the Lakers bench have all the pressure on them.
With Steve Nash on the Lakers, I can see Pau Gasol having a great year. Pau is great with the pick and roll, he can make a living rolling to the basket. You may also see Pau’s assist numbers go up a bit with Dwight Howard rolling to the basketball at times when the Lakers decide to run the 4/5 pick and roll. Don’t be surprised if Gasol has 18 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assist per game.
It’s championship or bust for the Lakers this season, if the Lakers don’t make it to the Finals there will be a lot of explaining to do and someone will get fired and you can take that to the bank.
With all this being said I believe the Lakers will have a great season and have a deep playoff run and having at shot at banner number 18.
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