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LA Lakers: How we doin’?

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Recently on a basketball forum, I was asked a few questions in relation to the Lakers.  And they did indeed make me think long and hard about the potential hurdles LA’s premier sports franchise will face in the coming season…
- Is one ball going to be enough?
- Can 3 guys who are used to being “the Man” learn how to work together?
- Where is the depth on the nearly nonexistent bench?
- Can the coach handle all the egos?
- Which MWP is going to show up this season?
- How will Pau be used & will it be enough now that he is 4th option?

Ok… to answer. Or at least give my thoughts on ‘em:
1. Is one ball going to be enough? & 2. Can 3 guys who are used to being “the Man” learn how to work together?
There’s a massive difference between what happened at Miami, and what is happening at LA. What’s happening at the Lakers is far more akin to what happened at Boston that what occurred at South Beach.

Miami: 3 players (LeBron/Wade/Bosh) joined together with far more overlap. Two wings with very similar games, and a PF who is far more face-up to the basket than back-to. Kudos to them in making it work… but Boston with Ray Allen, Pierce and KG was a jumpshooting 2, a slashing jack-of-all-trades 3, and a PFC. Very little overlap in what they do on the court, if at all. Additionally, they were all on the downside of their peaks, and as such perhaps a little more willing to be flexible than if they’d all been “the guy”.

LA. A distributing point who is one of the best outside shooters the game has ever seen. A control-heavy SG control-heavy SG who also has one of the best offensive arsenals in the game. A finesse PF who sometimes plays his best basketball at the anchor… and the best defensive C in the game. Who also happens to play his best game on the offense about 2m away from the basket. Add to that Metta World Peace a small forward who still is one of the better wing-defenders in the game. And who doesn’t mind not scoring.
It remains to be seen if they can make it work. It will take some flexibility in particular from Bryant… however, there’s absolutely no reason why he couldn’t give up controlling the ball, and STILL score 20-23 per game. Nash will have that impact. Kobe’s never played with an elite pointman, but I think he’s both smart enough and at that point in his career where he’ll be willing to defer.

LA's starting five
Nash? Absolutely can (not be “The Man” ). He’s never really wanted to be, and is at his best when he’s scoring less, distributing more.

Howard… it hasn’t worked thus far for Dwight, and his best basketball (09?) was when he had talent around him.

The beauty (or… could be) of this team is that they can be anything they want. Jury’s still out on Dwight’s smarts, but Kobe/Nash/Gasol are all considered to be some of the smartest basketballers on the planet.

3. Where is the depth on the nearly non existent bench?
This question’s old, used, and completely beyond it’s used-by date. Jamison, Meeks, Hill, Ebanks, Duhon. Oh… and one of usher’s faves: CDR. Yup, a Laker. This is the deepest bench LA’s had in a decade.

4. Can the coach handle all the egos?
Valid concern… and I agree with the notion that Brown might well be at his best in an assistant’s role focusing on D… but here he is. The Lakers have done their best to work this out, and I love the addition of Eddie Jordan to run the offense. Add in Steve Clifford, Bernie Bickerstaff, Chuck Person and Darvin Ham – and that’s a pretty good group.
If Brown largely sticks to defense, and lets Jordan run the O… I think it’ll pay dividends.
But specifically… the egos. Honestly? I don’t think that will be even on Brown’s agenda. That’s going to fall to the players.
As stated before, 3 of the “big 4″ are older, and I think all can see the writing on the wall: this is an amazing team, but it’s also one with a very limited shelf-life. Get it done now, or don’t bother. They have 2 years…

5. Which MWP is going to show up this season?
Another good question. As long as he plays even solid D, I don’t really care. Massive bonus would be if he can hit an open three, because boy… is he going to get some open looks this year.

6. How will Pau be used & will it be enough now that he is 4th option?
Interesting. I think given I expect the ball to largely dwell in Nash’s hands, Pau will get fed. I imagine that Nash’ll average 12/11 or even 12/12… I’d guess Pau and Dwight will both register around 17/10-12… or thereabouts. Kobe? I’d buy into 20-23/5/5 being a possibility. It just remains to see if he buys into that (my bet’s on “yes” ).
I think Pau will be fine, largely because he’s a smart guy. Smart enough to look around and see that this is yet another chance to get a another ch’ip. And 3 rings on his resume will look pretty damn fine.

How we doin’?

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