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Hall of Famers: Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard
Key Contributors: Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace, Antawn Jamison
If Michael Jordan is the perfect 10 model of a shooting guard, Kobe Bryant is a 9.5. Bryant may be slightly past his prime, but is easily a top-three player in the NBA.
Nash is 38 years old and allegedly can't guard Bieber, but he's still the best three-point shooting point guard in the history of the NBA. He also is still one of the game's elite passers, as he was second in the league with 10.7 assists per game last year on a subpar Suns roster.
The complementary strengths and weaknesses of Howard, Bryant, Nash and possible Hall of Famer Gasol could make this team as good on the court as it is on paper.
There is no better eraser of defensive mistakes in the NBA than Howard. That is why the addition of Nash will not kill this team against a Russell Westbrook or a Chris Paul. Offensively, the two-time NBA MVP takes both the scoring pressure as well as ball-handling duties off Kobe.
This is a double positive, as Bryant can be his own worst enemy when the pressure of the offense falls solely on his shoulders. With Nash running the show, the ball will find its way into Howard's hands a lot more often than with Kobe making all the decisions. This will lead to more efficient offensive basketball, plus less wear and tear on Kobe's body.
The knock on Gasol has always been that he is soft. Now he is paired with a defensive force that is anything but. Besides, you could not ask for a better offensive pairing in the frontcourt to go with Howard than a seven-footer with the finesse of Gasol's.
Just for good measure, with all these scorers on the floor, Howard (who has never been a natural with the ball in his hands) is not forced into being the primary option he never truly was and can get the majority of his points off dunks, lobs and put-backs. With the decreased offensive responsibility, look for Howard's already gaudy rebound and block averages to increase.
As if the Hall of Famers weren't enough, the Lakers have two former All-Stars forming an offensive/defensive plateau at small forward. How good is this team that this is where the potential weaknesses lies?
Artest is still as combustible as ever, and I am worried about Jamison's status as a sixth man on a contender. He has been an inefficient lead scorer for terrible teams for the majority of his career and was a bust of an impact trade asset with LeBron James' Cavs team.
Still, if you are worried about the fit of your fifth and sixth players (again, both former All-Stars) then you have a pretty loaded squad.