Los Angeles Lakers, Reloaded for another run at the NBA Title
With the Lakers training camp just days from beginning, the title contenders will have a lot to work on in a short amount of time. No-one is as excited as me to see this new look team and a championship parade in Los Angeles, but it may not be the easy ride the fans, bandwagoners or the players ( *cough* Metta World Peace *cough* ) are hoping.
I know you’re probably bored of hearing about the addition of Steve Nash (Phoenix) and Dwight Howard (Orlando) but I’m going to write about it anyway. The coming together of a star-studded starting ‘big five’ is probably the most exciting off-season move in years; and yes, I remember the ‘decision’. After the formation of the first ‘big three’ by Boston in 2008, teams have hunted such a formation with the Miami Heat boasting the most dominant of all: Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. But the Lakers definitely have the best starting five in the NBA next season with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace the existing pieces before the two star signings.
Assemble an ultimate starting team, build a decent second unit (we’ll get into that later) and we’re sure to win a championship right? Wrong! There needs to be some serious adjustments , team bonding and had work for this team to function at its potential. Kobe Bryant will score less, it’s a given. Can Kobe get used to that? Sure, but it won’t happen overnight. The Black Mamba will have to learn to share the ball around with playmaker Steve Nash as well as leading the team, which don’t doubt for a second, he will be doing. Nash opens up opportunities all over the offensive court and may in fact give Kobe more scoring options, but don’t count on that happening. By no means will Kobe’s play or work ethics suffer from the addition of Nash but definitely expect him to have to learn to share the ball around more. When it comes to the dying seconds however, you know who you can count on to have the ball in his hands.
Dwight Howard will dominate the post this season with help from Pau Gasol. The Lakers experienced a powerful centre last season in the talented Andrew Bynum and we saw a huge amount of points coming from the big men; don’t expect that to change. Dwight is hungry, he wants to quote Lebron this season and say ‘it’s about time’ while holding up his trophy. He will work hard, score big and develop into a much different player than we have seen yet. However, since we will not see Dwight Howard during the training camp or pre-season, it may take a bit of time for him to fit into the organization. Expect great things from the big baby. Fingers crossed we have him for more than a year.
The addition of Jodie Meeks and Antawn Jamison is incredibly exciting. The two second-unit veterans bring talent, scoring and experience to what was previously an inefficient and lacklustre bench. Rookie signing Darius Johnson-Odom should fit in well in the second-unit however don’t expect him to see much time this season. And my personal favourite, Jordan Hill! The monster who, while averaging little minutes and points, showed in the few games he played last season he can dominate and influence a game dramatically. Expect Hill to be training hard this pre-season to join Meeks and Jamison in the high ranks of the bench.
Championship contenders? Yeah. Championship winners? I’d put my money where my mouth is.
…and that is the last word.