Los Angeles Lakers Season Preview


Dwight Howard
After being granted his wish, can Howard grant Laker fans their collective wish: an NBA championship? (Photo credit L.A. Times)

After finally getting Dwight Howard and signing Steve Nash in the offseason, can the Lakers quickly gel together to make a run at another Larry O’Brien trophy?

After months and months of speculation, it finally happened: Los Angeles landed another Superman. And somehow, they managed to keep their roster in-tact at the same time. Howard will be the “man in the middle” for the Lakers this season, but has yet to commit to the Lakers long-term until after the season. If this proves to be true and Howard does leave, it will be a long rebuilding process for the Lakers.

Perhaps their biggest addition is at point guard. Signing the veteran Nash will help solidify a position the Lakers have never had the upper-hand in. While Nash is, and always has been, a poor defender, he is an offensive magician with the ball and knows how to set up teammates for good, and most of the time, open shots. I think he and Kobe Bryant will get along just fine, even though Kobe is used to having the ball in his hands the majority of the time. After burning through Derek Fisher (whom they traded Cleveland), Ramon Sessions (whom they acquired from Cleveland, and Steve Blake, the Lakers decided to get serious and landed Nash.

They added shooting guard Jodie Meeks and veteran power forward Antawn Jamison, both of whom should provide some scoring off the bench. Good thing Pau Gasol is still around, because this roster is pretty bare otherwise.

Point guard(s) – Steve Nash: Even at his age, 38, Nash is still reliable. He is one of the better shooters in the league, in great physical condition, and relatively healthy. I think one of the reasons why Nash is still ticking is because he doesn’t put forth as much energy on the defensive end as he does on the offensive end. In return, of course you’re going to have more energy over the course of a long career. Needless to say, L.A.’s ball-movement problems from a year ago should dissipate.

Chris Duhon and Steve Blake will battle for the backup minutes.

Position Grade: B+

Shooting guard(s) – Kobe Bryant: He is starting to show his age, and it’s about time. He has managed to be one of the top players in the league since his third season in the league and, now, he is on the decline. No question he is the best player on this team, but he is no longer the most important anymore. If you are a Laker fan, you should know what you will get from Bryant . I expect his scoring numbers to go down, slightly, but see that his efficiency goes up.

Jodie Meeks and Darius Johnson-Odom will compete for the backup minutes.

Position Grade: A-

Small forward(s) – Metta World Peace: I haven’t seen a faster decline in production from one player in such a short amount of time than World Peace. It took him one season to go from a solid small forward to a bogus, out-of-shape, no-good, name-changing, elbow-throwing, three-point missing, and use-less player. Can I be done?

I hope Devin Ebanks and/or Earl Clark take the majority of the minutes available to World Peace, away from him.

Position Grade: C

Power forward(s) – Pau Gasol: For what it’s worth Laker fans: Gasol isn’t as bad as you make him out to be. He posted very solid numbers last season and I expect him to do the same this season, especially playing next to Howard.

Antawn Jamison will back up Gasol.

Position Grade: B

Center(s) – Dwight Howard: His back seemed fine on Sunday, when he posted a double-double against the Sacramento Kings. I hope Howard has learned from the travesty he created last year in Orlando and has a clear head in Los Angeles. It’s a fresh start, for a young person. What possibly could go wrong?

Jordan Hill will back up Howard.

Position Grade: A+

Projected Starting Lineup

G: Steve Nash

G: Kobe Bryant

F: Metta World Peace

F: Pau Gasol

C: Dwight Howard

Starting Lineup Grade: A

Bench

G: Chris Duhon

G: Jodie Meeks

F: Antawn Jamison

F: Jordan Hill

Bench Grade: B-

Coaching Grade: B (Mike Brown)

Even though the Lakers added experience and talent in the offseason, I am predicting a second-place finish in the Pacific Division and the fourth seed in the Western Conference. It might take a while for these parts to gel.

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