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Unorthodox Lineup Combinations for Los Angeles Lakers to Consider This Season

Jan 29, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) celebrates a play with forward Metta World Peace (15) and center Pau Gasol (16) during the third quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Target Center. The Lakers defeated the Timberwolves 106-101. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE
Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE
Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistAugust 20, 2012

Unless Metta World Peace once again finds his way to Mike Brown's bench, the Los Angeles Lakers' starting five is all but set in stone. 

You can rest assured Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard will all be part of it. 

Nevertheless, Brown will inevitably employ other lineups, either to gain something strategically or just to give some of his guys a rest as per the rotation pattern. There should be an opportunity to do some interesting things given the talent on this roster.

Though it lacks the versatility you'd associate with the Miami Heat, it makes up for it with specialists who rank among the very best at what they do.

Kobe Bryant is a pure-bred scorer; Steve Nash is an iconic passer; Dwight Howard is arguably the game's most imposing defensive presence.

Those are the kind of guys who give a coach options.

Here are three to consider.

 

Steve Nash, Jodie Meeks, Kobe Bryant, Antawn Jamison, Pau Gasol

No, it won't be known for its defense, but this unit can flat-out shoot. It puts the team's four best three-point shooters on the court and further spaces the floor by sliding Gasol over to the 5 spot. Nash would have his work cut out for him with those kind of scorers at his disposal, and you could imagine this lineup racking up points in short order.

The Nash-Gasol pick-and-rolls would thrive with so many shooters keeping the defense honest.

On the other hand, putting Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace on the bench at the same time certainly poses some defensive issues. Though this group might be worth its firepower for a few minutes here and there, it wouldn't be sustainable for long stretches.

 

Kobe Bryant, Jodie Meeks, Metta World Peace, Antawn Jamison, Dwight Howard

Look at this lineup as a compromise between the Lakers' needs on both ends of the floor. Bryant would have shooters on the wing in Meeks and Jamison, and he'd have a big man to feed in the post.

His play-making opportunities would be limitless, and it would enable to him to play off of a big man in a context we haven't seen since Shaquille O'Neal was still around. 

This crew would also yield some nice defensive results, assuming the opposing team's point guard isn't too quick for either Bryant or Meeks to handle. With World Peace and Howard on the floor at the same time (and with Nash on the bench), this lineup features a nice mix of offensive and defensive personnel.

 

Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol

It's easy to forget that Steve Nash is one heck of a shooter. Making a career out of prolific and flawless passing can do that to a guy's image.

This lineup is designed to get Nash some good looks by passing him the ball for a change. The ever-deferential Steve Blake is more of a point guard anyway, but he can pass for a 2 against smaller backcourts. Gasol, Bryant and World Peace are all fine passers in their own rights.

The other benefit this lineup affords you is the ability to run and play at a tempo that more closely resembles Mike D'Antoni's old Phoenix Suns era. The smaller lineup would be reminiscent of when the Suns played Nash alongside Leandro Barbosa, Joe Johnson, Shawn Marion and Amar'e Stoudemire.

Nash would feel right at home.

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