Saturday, August 11, 2012

The NEW Los Angeles Lakers

Okay, let's take a minute to look at the 2012-2013 Lakers roster as it stands:


Nash brings leadership, an ability to coach a team on the floor and one of the best jump shots in the NBA.  He played with a bunch of backups in Phoenix last year and had a fine season ... so imagine what he could do with this lineup?  He is an excellent FT shooter and long range shooter which will open up things for the big men in the paint.  He is a mess defensively and won't be able to guard Westbrook, Parker, Paul, Curry, Rubio or virtually any of the starting point guards in the west.  With Kobe off the floor, expect Nash to be on it, giving the Lakers someone who can create a shot for themselves or someone else.


Yeah, he's old in basketball years.  But the addition of Nash and Howard helps him on both ends of the floor.  On offense, Nash will take a lot of the ballhandling duties away from Kobe.  Nash also can create for himself and others (Kobe was the only Laker who could do such a thing over the last few seasons).  During Kobe's rest, Nash can lead the team and should keep the team on track (it has been hit or miss lately).  On defense, Kobe doesn't have the be the lock down defender he used to be (which he isn't as much anymore).  Kobe's scoring will go down from the 27 ppg of last season, but his efficiency should rocket.


World Peace's job description got a whole lot easier.  He needs to spend the bulk of his court time defending one of the opponent's top wings and how to find the open spots behind the three point arc.  I'll bet that MWP will shoot more 3s than 2s this season.  And they all should be wiiiiiide open.  Still, he needs to perform because the Lakers have other options to go to.


I have a feeling Gasol will have a bit of a re-breakout season.  You figure that he spent last summer smarting from the venom of fans cracking on his horrid performance in the 2011 playoffs.  Then in December, he was dealt in the Chris Paul deal ... that eventually got nixed.  For the entire 2011-2012 season, Gasol's name was thrown in virtually every trade rumor -- even bad ones.  Fast forward to today.  He has Spain in the gold medal game against the USA, Steve Nash is there as a perfect pick and pop guy and now Howard is next to him as an elite defender.  Oh, and he's not being traded and has basically re-gained to confidence of the organization.  Again, Nash will use Gasol as a perfect pick and roll/pop guy in a mini offense.  While Howard will want his touches, he won't clog up the lane as much as Bynum did for Gasol.  For a guy who had no fit last year, Gasol is a glove this year.


Howard just made a poor defensive team pretty darn good.  If he could do it for Jameer Nelson, J.J. Redick, Hedo Turkoglu and Ryan Anderson, he'll do fine with Kobe and Metta World Peace.  His importance will be blocked shots and rebounding.  He will also be one of Nash's pick and roll guys who will receive a few alley-oops from the Canadian.  He will have a fraction of the pressure of leading the team as he did in Orlando. 



This is a big, albeit quiet get for the Lakers.  Dude averaged 17 ppg last season and will be asked to do nothing more than be a scorer off the bench.  He can backup up either Gasol or MWP and just worry about filling up the bucket.  He's a great locker room guy who has the respect of everyone in the league.  He's played for coach Mike Brown before, played alongside a star before and even won a Sixth Man award with Dallas several years back.  Plus, if MWP acts up or slumps like he did last season, Jamison could move into the starting lineup.  Most likely he is the man off of a once sad bench. 


Duhon isn't a great player by any means, but he has started over 300 games in the NBA and played in Chicago and New York before ... so L.A. won't be too large for him.  His job will be to play his little minutes backing up Nash and keeping the offense moving.  He's a decent three point shooter (the Lakers have been baaaaad at this and the offense Mike Brown wants to run involves having outlets for Kobe, Nash, Gasol and Howard that can knock down 3s). 


Blake has been a bit of a disappointment in L.A. so this should be a make or break season for him.  He has shown spurts of value (like against the Nuggets last postseason) and then looks like a liability.  He should have an easier go of it this year since he will spend most of his court time as a 2-guard.  He'll be Kobe's backup in a sense in the second team rotation alongside Nash.  I think his offense will be easier to get and he should benefit from not having to handle the ball as much.  His bad defense will get better with Howard ... as I can write that about everyone on this list. 


Hill was a nobody until the end of last season and the playoffs.  Now, the Lakers are counting on him to be the go-to frontcourt backup.  His job will be the same: crash the boards and work hard defensively.  The fact he was scoring at all was icing.  He will probably see most of his court time with Howard out and may even get to start right off the bat while Howard recovers from back surgery. 


Let's put it this way: among Duhon, Blake, Meeks and Ebanks, one or two of these guys will move forward with Brown's trust to be the gunner on this team.  Meeks could lead in that role since he is primarily a 3-point shooter.  That's why he's here.


Ebanks still is unsigned and technically doesn't have a roster spot right now.  But the Lakers like him for his defense and his athleticism.  His court time may be sporatic this season.


He should get more run at the beginning of the season while Howard is recovering from back surgery.  Hill could start at center and Clark backs him up.  From there, Clark will have to hope to emulate Hill and carve a niche out on this team.


The Lakers liked him last year and he could get into that battle for those precious few minutes as a gunner.  Maybe not. 


Hopefully he can make this team and find a good suit guy.  With Nash, Duhon, Blake and Goudelock ahead of him, Morris won't see much of the active roster.


See Morris.  Johnson-Odom was the Big East player of the year and has a lot of toughness ... which Mike Brown loves.  He may see more D-League action than anything.


Mitch Kupchak has really liked Sacre so I think he stays in some capacity.  He may get some early season run with Howard hurt.  Once Howard comes back, I see Sacre as a D-League guy to work on his game. 

No comments: