The Los Angeles Lakers don't have a huge array of new players, but the players they did pick up in the offseason are going to turn them into a completely different basketball team.
Steve Nash alone gives them an offense that is more potent than it's been since they won their last title, and now that they're running a point guard heavy offense that is the Princeton Offense, they'll need a competent point guard now more than ever.
Nash is going to transform this offense into something special if he's able to run it the way he knows how, but the rest of the team is going to have to fall in line behind him, even Kobe Bryant.
So, to really figure out what this team is going to look like three months from now, let's take a look at everyone's roll in the offense and how the rotation will look. Things could change a bit in the next few months, but for the most part the guys on this team now are going to be the guys on this team in October.
Minutes Per Game: 30-32
Steve Nash is going to be the most intriguing member of this team. It seems to make the most sense to stagger his playing time so there are extremely few instances when the Lakers are without either Nash or Kobe.
Taking Nash out of the game before Kobe in the first quarter and then reinserting him in the second when Kobe comes out so he can run the offense with the bench would serve to both give the defense a taste of the classic Kobe offense and a pure Nash style offense in between tastes of the Nash-Kobe combination.
Either way, Nash is going to be out there to rack up assists, shoot from time-to-time and make everyone else better.
Minutes Per Game: 34-36
What is Kobe's role in the offense? It's what Kobe's roll in the offense has always been. He's there to put up around 25 points, play some intense one-on-one game and maybe even get a few more wide-open shots alongside Nash.
The Lakers shouldn't have to depend on Kobe game-in and game-out with Nash running the offense, but he's always there to take things over and dominate the competition.
There's no question that he continues to be the most important member of the Lakers.
Minutes Per Game: 25-27
There's going to be a lot of pressure on Metta World Peace this season, mostly because he'll be starting at the team's weakest position.
Unless the Lakers re-sign Matt Barnes, World Peace finds himself backed up by Devin Ebanks and Christian Eyenga, both young guys with different styles of play, but more raw than anything else.
World Peace is going to have to sink his open shots and above everything else, play defense. That's all they really need from him, but they need him to do it on a very high level.
Minutes Per Game: 37
Pau Gasol is going to be the key to the Los Angeles Lakers offense, and alongside Steve Nash he should see a rebirth, at least compared to last season.
It seems that if the Lakers stagger the lineup, Gasol should be glued to Nash and Andrew Bynum to Kobe, as those seem to be the combos that make the most sense together.
Nash is going to run the pick-and-roll as often as possible with Gasol, and just when teams start to get used to it, Gasol can leak out rather than roll and show off his jumper with a pick-and-pop.
Given a bit more athleticism, Gasol could be the most perfect match to Nash's style of play that he's ever seen, but he's damn close even without the above-average athletic ability.
Minutes Per Game: 34
Andre Bynum is going to have to anchor the defense, especially with Steve Nash letting guys get past him on a somewhat regular basis, meaning he's going to have to be solid on rotations and defending the pick-and-roll, something he's always had problems with.
Should he do better with the pick-and-roll, everything else should fall into place and the defense for Los Angeles should shore up quite well.
Offensively, alley-oops and pick-and-roll situations should present themselves more often than in the past, plus Bynum can continue to work the post game, which the Princeton Offense allows for quite often.
Minutes Per Game: 24
Jamsion is a shooter first, second and third, and he's only able to do those three things at this point in his career, but that's going to be enough if the Lakers run the team correctly.
Lakers fans are going to complain that he doesn't move enough on offense, he played in the same offensive system for Byron Scott that he's going to play in for Mike Brown and he only made a move when he was into the game.
Jamison should be rejuvenated playing for a team that'll make the playoffs, and having the luxury of him sinking shots from the elbow is never a bad thing to have.
Minutes Per Game: 18
It seems that the Lakers showed Houston that Jordan Hill was vastly underutilized with the Rockets as he shined bright in the playoffs as the first big man off the bench.
Jordan Hill should easily come in and play either power forward or center, depending on who the Lakers need to take out first, run up and down the court with his hair flowing behind him helping energize the team.
Hill will be able to rebound, he can play defense and he can frustrate other teams with his up-tempo style of play. Hell, Steve Nash may even be able to run the pick-and-roll with the dude.
Minutes Per Game: 14-16
Steve Blake has been falling out of favor more and more over the past year, but he's still going to be a very important member of this team, hopefully he's not too important, however.
Blake will be there to run the offense when Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant are both off the floor, which shouldn't be for very long each game, although he'll get a few minutes worth of being an actual point guard.
It makes the most sense to have him be the point guard alongside Kobe when Nash is out and not much more than that. He can still shoot a bit and distribute well enough that they won't end up looking deeper on their bench for a point guard, but he can't play defense a lick and he goes on streaks of terrible games.
Andrew Goudelock: Depending on his growth, he could become the three-point specialist for the Lakers, becoming an extremely important part of this team. Initially he'll average around 12 minutes per game, but that could grow to 18 or so if he plays well.
Josh McRoberts: He's going to have to play his way back onto this team, because Jordan Hill has basically become what they hoped Josh McRoberts would be. Hustle, rebounding and tough play is going to get him minutes, but he'll probably top out at 12 per game.
Devin Ebanks/Christian Eyenga: Here you have two guys competing for the same position and only one will come out on top. Ebanks really came on at the end of last season while Eyenga is still quite raw, more athletic than skilled. One of these guys is going to win out and get playing time, the other is going to see a lot of the bench. At this point I'd put my money on Ebanks.
Darius Johnson-Odom/Darius Morris/Robert Sacre: The three guys who probably won't end up with much playing time as the season goes along, Johnson-Odom, Morris and Sacre should compete for whatever minutes remain, scarce may they be. Sacre will probably see the D-League more than the NBA, but the two Darius' should be league-side most of the season.
Obviously the big hole in the Lakers rotation comes in the form of a backup winger, which is where C.J. Miles comes in.
Latest reports say that the Lakers are interested in Miles, and the quick, athletic guard could end up signing with Los Angeles, which would be a tremendous addition to this team.
Miles would bring some youthful exuberance, tremendous athleticism and even some increasingly stout defense to the Lakers bench, becoming the second guy off the bench in L.A. and subsequently evaporating minutes away from Devin Ebanks and Christian Eyenga.
Realistically, the Lakers need Miles, otherwise they're left with Jamison, Hill and Blake as their bench, and that's not exactly a fearsome squad.
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