There's a lot we already know about the Los Angeles Lakers franchise. We know they're one of the most successful organizations in NBA history, trailing only the Boston Celtics in total league championships.
We also know plenty about the 2012-13 Lakers. We know they're looking to capture their 17th NBA title, which would put them in a tie for most all time with the Celtics. We know that in order to do that, the Lakers went out and bolstered their roster by trading for Dwight Howard, getting Steve Nash in a sign-and-trade and inking Antawn Jamison to a one-year deal.
But there are some things about the 2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers that you may not already know that are just as important for the upcoming season. Here are five things you need to know about the team for this season.
Assistant coach Eddie Jordan wants the Lakers to use the Princeton offense.
The Lakers added assistant coach Eddie Jordan to their coaching staff. Jordan is planning on having the team utilize the Princeton offense this season.
The Princeton offense—which was perfected by Pete Carril—is about ball movement, back-cutting and using your big men to help distribute the ball.
In Pau Gasol, the Lakers have one of the best passing big men in the NBA. Also, now that Steve Nash is in the fold at point guard, Los Angeles has one of the premier distributors the league has to offer. Between the two, the Lakers should have two excellent options to command the offense.
In fact, Pete Carril said in a recent interview with Sports Illustrated that he thinks L.A. can have success running the Princeton offense.
I imagine that if the [Lakers] guys want to do it, and [the coaches] can convince them that it'd better for them, I think they'll do it. They have the right ingredients, all the passers. They have really good passers there. The only one I don't really know much about as a passer is Howard. But [Pau] Gasol can pass and he can shoot, and of course Bryant and Nash can shoot, and whatever they call him now [Metta World Peace], I know he can pass. It all depends on Howard, and then what kind of bench they have.
Steve Nash is the oldest player on the team at 38 years old.
Just because the Lakers have an aging roster, it doesn't mean they can't win an NBA championship. We saw the Celtics capture a title just a few seasons ago with a roster comprised of mostly veteran players. Since the Celtics did it, the Lakers can do it too.
Still, it's fair to point out that the Lakers have a lot of veteran players on their team. In fact, Los Angeles will have seven players on its roster this season that are at least 30 years old.
Included in that group are many of L.A.'s core players like Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Antawn Jamison, Steve Nash and Metta World Peace.
Having a roster comprised of so many veteran players can be a good thing and a bad thing.
It's a good thing because it means the Lakers are an experienced team. Seeing how the Lakers are going for a championship this season, it will help to have players that have been through the battles of an 82-game season and postseason play. They'll know what to expect and how to react to virtually any situation thrown their way.
However, it could be a bad thing because there's an increased risk of injury with older players. Also, when they do get injured, it takes longer for an aging player to recover than it would a younger counterpart.
Keeping everybody healthy would be the ideal scenario for the Lakers. But if the Lakers face a few injuries along the way, they should be in a good position to handle them.
Which brings me to my next point...
The addition of Antawn Jamison gives the Lakers a solid scoring option off the bench.
Unlike in recent years, this roster is full of quality players from the starting lineup to the end of the bench. That should go a long way in helping the Lakers contend for an NBA championship.
For one, the Lakers had the league's worst-scoring bench in 2011-12. Adding players like Antawn Jamison, Chris Duhon and Jodie Meeks to mainstays, Jordan Hill and Steve Blake, will really help improve this deficiency.
The addition of Antawn Jamison alone gives the Lakers a quality scorer off the bench as Jamison averaged 17.2 points per game for the Cleveland Cavaliers last season.
Although he's primarily been a starter, Jamison's also had success as a bench player during his career. He won the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year award with the Dallas Mavericks in 2003-04, when he averaged 14.8 points and 6.3 rebounds in 29 minutes of action per game.
Having the quality depth throughout the roster also helps if Los Angeles happens to suffer some injuries. With as many veteran players as the Lakers have, that's almost assured to happen at some point. But with so many capable players, L.A. will be able to handle it.
Having solid reserves will also be huge because it will allow the Lakers to rest some of their players during the regular season. With this team focusing solely on the playoffs, it would be nice to have some of their veterans fresh for the postseason. Having depth throughout the roster affords L.A. that opportunity.
Adding Jodie Meeks to the team gives Los Angeles one of the league's consistent outside shooters.
One of the areas where Los Angeles was really lacking last season was in three-point shooting. The Lakers ranked 25th in the NBA from long range at 32.6 percent. But with some of the changes the team has made this offseason, three-point shooting should be one of its strengths.
The Lakers' three-point shooting going from a weakness to a strength can be attributed to a few things. The first one is obvious: the Lakers have added better shooters to the roster.
With the additions of Jodie Meeks, Chris Duhon and Steve Nash, the Lakers are getting three excellent outside shooters. Nash is the best of the bunch with a .428 career three-point percentage, but Duhon (.363) and Meeks (.371) certainly aren't slouches.
But not only do the Lakers now have players who can consistently knock down the trey, they've also got a new scheme in the Princeton offense that should help open up more opportunities to take three-point shots. And with more quality attempts should come a higher three-point percentage.
The same can be said of the addition of Dwight Howard. If Howard commands double-teams in the post, it means someone else is open to take a shot.
The increased ball movement from the Princeton offense, a spike in double teams due to the presence of Dwight Howard and more competent three-point shooters should help turn around the Lakers' three-point efficiency.
As long as Kobe Bryant is a Laker, this will be his team.
The Los Angeles Lakers are still Kobe Bryant's team, and they will go only as far as Bryant can take them. Sure, if he ends up re-signing, in the future this will be Dwight Howard's team. But make no mistake, the present time is all about Kobe Bryant.
The Lakers did bring in more talent with Howard, Steve Nash and Antawn Jamison, but they've all got to find a way to co-exist with Kobe, not the other way around.
Take Nash, for example. In Nash, the Lakers have one of the best point guards in the NBA and the team's best point guard since Magic Johnson was running the show. There's no doubt that Nash can be a positive impact on L.A., but he'll need room to run the offense. Ultimately it's up to Kobe to give him that leeway.
The same can be said for Howard. Dwight was looking to go into a situation where he's the cornerstone of a franchise. If he stays, eventually he'll be that in L.A. But as long as Kobe's around, it's Bryant's team.
In order for him to fit in, Howard needs to put his ego aside. On one hand, it seems like an easy enough task for Howard, especially when you consider the potential benefits of him doing so. On the other, Howard hasn't really shown much of an ability to put the franchise above himself lately.
There's also the possibility that Kobe is willing to cede some of his control over the team. With the increased talent surrounding him, now might be the perfect time to do exactly that. But it's going to be up to Bryant to make that choice.
This may be the new-look Lakers, but basically it's the same thing it's been since the start of the 2004-05 season: Kobe's team.
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