After one of the most tumultuous seasons in team history, the Lakers now look to the offseason to try to build a team capable of a title run. With an aging roster, and a tricky cap situation, it will be very hard to predict how much this Lakers team will change come next October. Because of this, I will not give one, but 5 potential scenarios for what I believe could happen this offseason. Here’s #2 of the series.
Let’s try this again:
On paper, the 2012-13 Lakers looked like one of the top NBA teams assembled over the last decade. They had a 2-time MVP in Steve Nash to run the point, Kobe Bryant (nothing else needs to be said), a former defensive player of the year in Metta World Peace, the best European post player in the game in Pau Gasol, and a hyper-athletic defense beast in Dwight Howard. Yet, today we are only half way through May, and the Lakers find themselves at home on the couch. What went wrong?
I will reiterate, the 2012-13 Lakers looked like one of the best looking NBA teams assembled over the last decade onpaper. However, what is italicized is what made all of the difference. While Steve Nash did have an illustrious career, he was also 39 years of age with 16 years of NBA basketball under his belt before playing a single game with the Lakers. Thus, it should have come as any surprise when Nash went down with a leg fracture in just the Lakers 2nd game of the season. What could not be seen on a piece of paper with just his name written on it became evident that day, Steve Nash was not the Steve Nash we as Lakers fans came to hate after his dominating play knocked Los Angeles out of the playoffs two years in a row.
While Dwight Howard had won an NBA dunk contest three straight defensive player of the year awards, he was also coming off season ending back surgery that disabled him him from walking for two months. Although Howard was able to make it back for opening night with the Lakers, it was evident that his explosiveness, and athleticism that made him the dominating force inside that he was in Orlando, was not there. Once again, we, the Sports world, were fooled by all we saw when we looked at who would be the Lakers starting center in 2013, the name Dwight Howard.
With Nash in and out of the lineup due to leg, back and hamstring injuries, and with Howard struggling to reclaim his overpowering presence on the court, the Lakers were unable to gel as a team and find a true identity.
Despite these indications that this Lakers team is too old, and is incapable of finding that chemistry needed to be successful in this league, there is a silver lining with this group. After the all-star break, even with most of the team not healthy, the Lakers were able to post the fourth best record in the NBA. They found something that worked and stuck with it. By Kobe Bryant playing facilitator, the team was able to overcome their tendency to simply stand around once Bryant got the ball as they knew a shot was going up. When team’s doubled Bryant, he was consistently able find open teammates in positions to make plays. And with Dwight Howard getting healthier and healthier by the day, he was becoming more and more comfortable playing with Bryant, and in Los Angeles. Thus, when looking at how to improve this team, maybe we should take a step back. Rather than making drastic changes the Lakers did last year, maybe all that is needed some small, simple improvements to erase the team’s shortcoming this season.
When asked for his opinion on what the Lakers front office needed to address this offseason, Kobe Bryant said, “When you go through a season like this, and your five games out of the playoffs, and all of sudden you have this incredible run, now you not only end up in the playoffs, you end up with the 7th seed…It does something to the character of the group. It builds a togetherness, an understanding. There is no more confusion about how I should play with Dwight, and Dwight should play with Pau… It’s not there anymore. So, to allow that to dissipate and have to do that again with another group. It’s a headache.”
With this opinion in mind, here is a look at what a Lakers team could look like next year.
PG Steve Nash
SG Kobe Bryant
SF Wesley Johnson (addition)
PF Pau Gasol
C Dwight Howard
- SG J.J. Redick (Addition)
- PG Steve Blake
- PF Jordan Hill
- SF Martell Webster
- PG DJ Augustin (Addition)
- C Jermaine O’Neal (Addition)
- PG Darius Morris
- C Robert Sacre
- 2nd Round Draft Pick
SG Jodie Meeks (Team Option)
SF Earl Clark (free agency)
SF Devin Ebanks (Free Agency)
SG Andrew Goudelock (Free Agency)
SF Antawn Jamison (Free Agency)
SF Metta World Peace (Amnesty)
By making these moves, the Lakers keep their core intact, while at the time revamping the bench to improve the team’s athletic, shooting, and length deficiencies last year. With money gained from the amnesty of Metta World Peace, the Lakers bring in Wesley Johnson, who can bring some much needed youth to the lineup. He is a solid defender, and can shoot as well. The Lakers address their lack of shooting/scoring off the bench by bringing in JJ Redick. Also, they bring in Mo Williams (only if he takes less money) to bring a serious point guard competition to the team. Finally, they add depth with Martell Webster and Jermaine O’Neal.