A lot can happen between now and the start of the 2012-13 NBA regular season. But even if the Lakers end up standing pat with their current roster, they should feel pretty good about their chances to compete throughout the season.
The Lakers are absolutely stacked in the starting lineup with Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. They've also got three very capable reserves in Antawn Jamison, Steve Blake and Jordan Hill.
With the addition of Jamison, the Lakers have a very good scorer to come off the bench. Jordan Hill is an excellent rebounder and a good defender in the paint. And with Steve Blake still in the mix, the Lakers have a good backup point guard to spell Steve Nash when he gets tired.
Whether or not the current roster is enough to get the Lakers another NBA championship remains to be seen. But at the very least, the Lakers seem to be in a much better position to compete for a title than they were a year ago.
When the Lakers completed a sign-and-trade for future Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash, it was a foregone conclusion that he would be the starting point guard in Los Angeles. Despite being 38-years-old, Nash is still one of the best pure point guards in the NBA.
Nash averaged 10.7 assists for the Phoenix Suns last season, and Phoenix was a team without many offensive weapons. Now that he's on a team that has much better players, expect his production to increase a bit.
Nash won't provide a ton of scoring for the Lakers, but he doesn't need to. He still posted a field-goal percentage of .532 in 2011-12 and nailed 39.0 percent of his three-point shots. As long as he can still shoot the ball well enough to keep opponents honest (which he can), the Lakers will be getting a huge upgrade.
Bryant is one of the greatest players in NBA history so of course he'll still be starting for the Lakers in 2012-13. Bryant will be 34 years old during the upcoming season and has seen his scoring, field-goal percentage and three-point percentage drop in each of the last three seasons. Even then, he's still one of the best players in the NBA.
Kobe has never played with a point guard of Nash's caliber. It will be interesting to see how well the two mesh considering Kobe's used to having the offense run through him. But there's a mutual respect between the two. They'll find a way to make it work.
This is the only position in the starting lineup that really has any competition. That's because the Lakers acquired Antawn Jamison in the offseason, but ultimately, World Peace is a better option than Jamison to start.
Metta World Peace is a much better defender than Jamison. And with Steve Nash—who is certainly not known for his defense—also in the starting lineup, the Lakers should try and surround Nash with the best possible defenders. That means World Peace is a better option to start and Jamison is a better option to come off the bench.
It wasn't too long ago that people were touting Gasol as the best big man in the NBA. Gasol surely hasn't displayed the same killer instinct he had a couple of season ago, but he's still one of the best power forwards in the NBA, indicated by his averages of 17.4 points and 10.4 rebounds per game in 2011-12.
Gasol is still only 32 years old and still capable of dominating his opponent. With Steve Nash now in the mix to help set up Gasol and the rest of the Lakers, expect Pau Gasol to have a very good season in 2012-13.
Bynum finally put it all together in 2011-12. He had his best season on the court and stayed healthy throughout the regular season and into the playoffs.
At times, Bynum seemed to lose focus last season. But since he's eligible for free agency after the upcoming season, he's got plenty of incentive to stay in line so he can cash in on a big contract.
Hopefully for Los Angeles, Bynum and Gasol can develop better chemistry in 2012-13. If the two of them can get on the same page, they could be unstoppable.
As a backup, Steve Blake is a good player to have. He's never been much of a scorer, but he can facilitate the offense when he comes into the game. Plus, with Steve Nash now in the mix, Blake won't be asked to do too much.
He just needs to keep the team afloat while Nash is taking a breather on the bench. Based on what we've seen from Blake in the past, he should be more than capable.
The Lakers shouldn't expect much from Andrew Goudelock in 2012-13. Then again, considering he backs up Kobe Bryant, the Lakers don't need much from Goudelock.
If he can continue to knock down the occasional shot and avoid screwing things up too badly, the Lakers should be just fine. Anything they get from Goudelock beyond that will be a net gain.
Not only is Antawn Jamison the backup small forward, he's also the Lakers' sixth man. It's a role Jamison has yet to acclimate to, considering he's been a starter for all but a season-and-a-half of his 14-year career. But Jamison undoubtedly has the goods to have an impact off the bench.
Jamison averaged 17.2 points and 6.3 rebounds in 33.1 minutes per game in 2011-12. He'll likely average less minutes per game in 2012-13, but considering most of his minutes will be against reserves, it's hard to see his production dropping too much.
Simply put, it would be surprising if Jamison isn't one of the better bench players in the NBA in 2012-13.
Not much is needed from Josh McRoberts. That's because McRoberts, like Andrew Goudelock, is backing up an elite player. With Pau Gasol getting the lion's share of playing time, McRoberts just needs to provide a little defense, rebounding and scoring when he's in the game.
As a backup player, McRoberts isn't a bad option to have.
Hill can back up at both center and power forward. He's likely to get the majority of the reserve minutes at those two spots with Josh McRoberts getting what's left over. Hill will never be the type of player envisioned when he was drafted eighth overall in 2009, but he should have a long career as a backup power forward/center.
Hill can defend in the paint, he's an excellent rebounder and he can provide a little bit on offense. The Lakers should feel lucky to have a backup of his caliber.