How L.A. Lakers Will Fix Their 5 Biggest Weaknesses in 2012-13
Among a couple of weaknesses on the team are bench production and the coaching staff. Fixing these won't be too hard but could very well be the difference from going home in the playoffs and winning a title.
The nice thing for the Lakers is that these weaknesses can, and probably will, be fixed before and during the regular season.
Read on for how the new-look Los Angeles Lakers will overcome their five biggest weaknesses in 2012-13.
The current Laker bench has one notable scoring backup in Antawn Jamison but scoring wise, the rest of the bench is not nearly as deadly.
In the backcourt, Steve Blake and Jodie Meeks look to be the backup point guard and shooting guard. While they are solid shooters from deep, they don't provide much else.
In the frontcourt, Jamison and Jordan Hill are slated to be the backup power forward and center. Hill is a decent back-to-the-basket scorer but gets most of his points on hustle plays.
The current makeup of the bench would call for Jamison to carry the load, but that might be detrimental to his fading knees.
The frontcourt has its scorer in Jamison, and the biggest hole seems to be the lack of a scoring wing player. Looking at the remaining free agents, Leandro Barbosa emerges as the best wing player still on the market.
Barbosa is capable of getting hot in a hurry and would immediately be the best wing sub on the team. His mix of slashing and shooting is exactly what L.A. needs.
The Lakers would have to convince Barbosa to sign for the veteran minimum, but that shouldn't be a problem on a team of this caliber.
Small Forward Production
The starting lineup is basically set, but small forward seems to be a problem position.
Currently, "The Basketball Player Formerly Known as Ron Artest" is slated to be the starting small forward, and he's a decent fit for the team defensively.
Metta World Peace is still a top-notch defender, but his offense has greatly regressed the past couple of seasons.
This Los Angeles team does not need him to return to his former scoring prowess, but World Peace will need to improve his consistency and shot selection.
The other four members of the starting five (Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard) can demand a double-team with regularity. That double-team is more than likely to come from World Peace's defender simply for the reason that it would be crazy to remove a defender from any other starter.
That means World Peace will get a ton of open looks, both from deep and in the paint. Defenses will take the risk of letting Metta put up a shot rather than getting beat by one of the other starters.
Think about it, the lineup would be almost impossible to stop if World Peace starts hitting the majority of these open looks. Defenses would have to keep single coverage on everyone.
Good luck keeping the ball out of the basket if Kobe and Dwight have single coverage. But that will only happen if Metta World Peace works on being a more reliable and consistent scorer.
This past season, in my opinion, Mike Brown and his coaching staff were decent but could've been better. And I'm not saying they were bad, but the fit just didn't seem right.
Luckily for the players, the coaching staff will undergo a couple of moves before the season.
Gone are Quin Snyder and Ettore Messina and incoming are Bernie Bickerstaff, Eddie Jordan and Steve Clifford.
These are great moves, as two of the three new assistants (Jordan and Bickerstaff) have NBA head coaching experience and the other (Clifford) has been with Dwight Howard for the past five years with the Orlando Magic.
Jordan specifically is an interesting hire as the Lakers are switching to the Princeton offense, which happens to be Jordan's specialty.
Keeping Everyone Healthy
While the Lakers certainly got better this offseason, they also got older at a couple of positions.
Notably, Steve Nash and Antawn Jamison come to mind in terms of additions. Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant are returning players who also have considerable mileage on their legs.
Nash will turn 39 years old during the season, and the Lakers will need to monitor his minutes. He most likely will play around 30 minutes per game, and that leaves a big chunk of time to backup Steve Blake.
Jamison has had troublesome knees for a couple of seasons now, and at 36 years old, they aren't getting any better. Luckily for Jamison, he will be a backup and shouldn't play more than 15-20 minutes a night.
Think about if one of the four above mentioned guys went down; it would be a huge setback for the team's title hopes.
And that's not even accounting for the back injury sustained by Dwight Howard last season.
Really, the only way to help these veterans is prevention and minute monitoring for Nash and Jamison. For L.A. to win a title this season, the training staff will have to be the MVP of the team.
Beating the OKC Thunder
This may not be a problem with the roster or coaching staff, but beating OKC will be extremely important next season.
Even though the Los Angeles Lakers have drastically improved, the Oklahoma City Thunder are still a major problem for LA.
The Thunder and Lakers faced off eight total times throughout the regular season and postseason. The Thunder won six of the eight games, including a 4-1 beating of the Lakers in the Western Conference semifinals.
In short, the Thunder had L.A.'s number throughout the year.
The talk of the town in L.A. is adding yet another banner to the Staples Center, but it seems like people are forgetting that the Thunder are the team to beat in the West.
Against the Thunder, the Lakers seemed to struggle against Russell Westbrook. Westbrook loves to drive into the paint, which should be controlled with Dwight Howard manning the middle. But perimeter defense is still a problem.
The only way to counter Westbrook on the perimeter will be to have Kobe Bryant slide over and defend Westbrook.
Other problem areas for the Lakers against the Thunder were offensive efficiency and shot quality. Far too many times the team could not establish an offensive flow against the Thunder, which is a testament to Westbrook's ball pressure.
Now, with Nash running the show and the Princeton offense being implemented, that shouldn't be as big of a problem. Nash is a master of controlling the tempo of the game and getting his teammates open shots.