5 Ways the LA Lakers Can Solve Chemistry Problems Before They Start
The Los Angeles Lakers are going to be one of the most talented teams in 2013, but chemistry could be an issue with so many new faces on the court early next year.
If the Miami Heat taught us anything two seasons ago, it’s that even the best players in the world need time to acclimate to one another.
The Lakers are going to be very good, but if they want to maximize their success, they must find a way to click on all cylinders sooner rather than later.
The new-look team from L.A. should compete for a title out West next year, but there are a few things that have to happen in order to avoid lingering issues once the season gets underway.
Establish Pick-and-Roll from Day One
Howard has always thrived off of his athleticism, and with Nash looking for him all season long, the bounce passes and lobs at the rim will be headed his way.
Howard’s game has never been that of a dominant back-down player, so with Nash attracting defenses at the perimeter, he’ll be set to attack the basket in pick-and-roll situations.
The 6’11” center benefited from Hedo Turkoglu’s side pick-and-roll in Orlando, but with one of the best facilitators in the game now on his side, he should remain heavily involved without being a No. 1 option.
Nash is one of the greatest passers in NBA history, and as long as he is allowed to create the way he has his entire career, the pick-and-roll game should help both bigs stay involved next season.
Allow Bryant to Remain No. 1 Option
As simple as it may sound, getting Kobe Bryant his fair share of touches will do wonders for keeping this team on track next season.
For arguably the first time in his career, the 34-year-old veteran is going to share the backcourt with a point guard who truly needs the ball in his hands to make a difference.
Steve Nash is going to run the offense, and while he’s going to look to get everybody involved, he must look Bryant’s way when the team needs a bucket late in games.
That being said, let’s be clear about one thing: being a No. 1 option is not the same as being a ball hog.
If Bryant takes the same 23 shots per game he did last season, it’s going to take away from the newcomers’ ability to score moving forward.
Finding a middle ground is going to be crucial, but allowing Bryant the same freedom he’s used to will be important as long as he is wearing purple and gold.
Let Nash Be Nash
Steve Nash has thrived as a facilitator his entire career, but he’s also one of the greatest shooting point guards in NBA history.
For his entire career, Nash has averaged more than 90 percent from the foul line, 42.8 percent from the three-point line and nearly 50 percent from the field.
Last season, on a team where Nash was hands-down the best player on the roster, he averaged just nine shots per game and averaged the second-most assists with 10.7 per game.
Nash doesn’t need to shoot, but he has to remain a threat.
Next year’s Lakers are going to remain Kobe Bryant’s team, and Dwight Howard will make his presence felt as soon as he’s healthy, but if there was ever a point guard who can get so many stars to align in Los Angeles, it’s Nash.
Letting the 38-year-old veteran be himself is easier said than done with Bryant commanding shots, but if Bryant can adjust to an off-the-ball role next season, the two of them should be just fine.
Don’t Forget About Pau Gasol
It’s easy to picture Pau Gasol as the odd man out in next year’s rotation.
Coming off a subpar playoff performance and a summer full of trade speculation, Gasol will now share a court with three legitimate superstars who are all going to take away from his opportunities to score.
However, he is still one of the best power forwards in the game.
As good as the pick-and-roll game will be between Nash and Dwight Howard, the pick-and-pop game has as much potential with Gasol involved.
The big man’s ability to play from the high post is among the best in the league, and even when Nash is on the bench, Gasol and Howard could establish a great two-man game.
The two post players will take up a lot of space in the paint, but with Gasol’s ability to spread the floor, he and Howard should complement each other nicely if used the right way.
The NBA hasn’t seen a great high-low game since Tim Duncan and David Robinson, but Gasol and Howard have the chance to make up one of the best big-man tandems that the league has to offer.
Learn the Princeton Offense Early
Every one of the aforementioned goals comes down to learning the Princeton offense as early as possible.
The Los Angeles Lakers are going to be very, very good next year, and by instituting a new offensive set, Mike Brown can utilize each of his stars’ diverse skill sets.
The Princeton offense will create for movement and teamwork that has often been missing in an iso-heavy Kobe Bryant offense.
If the team is learning the offense while trying to learn each other, it could create for difficult stretches early in the season.
It’s going to be crucial that everybody knows their role right from the start, and executing a clean offense is the first step to making that happen.
The Lakers have a star at almost every position, and with point guard and center being the missing ingredients on so many teams, L.A. has the chance to be not just the most talented team in the league, but the most balanced as well.
Winning is what should be most important for this team—not individual success—and if the Lakers can remember that, any chemistry issues should disappear sooner rather than later.