The Los Angeles Lakers won't have to worry about having enough talent to go all the way, but as we all know by now, there's more to winning a title than assembling an All-Star roster on paper.
It's become a tired line precisely because it's so true, and it goes without saying general manager Mitch Kupchak is banking on his stars' ability to mesh without too much difficulty or delay. It's not an especially risky proposition, but nor is it a sure thing.
If the Lakers' experiment looks anything like the Miami Heat's rise to prominence, this club could be a relatively dominant contender from day one.
There's a very real risk, however, that things won't go quite so smoothly. If they don't, it might have something to do with stars struggling to develop chemistry with one another. Here's how it could all go wrong.
We know Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash get along off the court, but it remains unclear how they'll fare on the court. With Nash handling the ball and presumably looking to get Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol involved in the offense, there's no telling whether Bryant will get the touches when and where he's accustomed to getting them.
Of course, it goes without saying that no one is better suited than Nash to distributing the ball and putting his teammates in a position to excel. But, there will still be an adjustment period before these two hit their strides together.
Kobe's bigger concern might be his relationship with Dwight Howard off the court. Bryant is the quintessential no-nonsense kind of superstar, and, well, Howard is no stranger to nonsense.
We know Bryant was able to patiently put up with Andrew Bynum's occasional shenanigans, but Howard might be a different story given the gravitas he carries with him and his aspirations of remaining a mega-hyped celebrity.
Dwight Howard could do a lot worse than Pau Gasol. We saw how he and Glen Davis worked out when they were paired on the floor together. In comparison, Gasol's ability to vacate the paint and space the floor with his touch from mid-range will give D12 the room he needs to operate.
On the other hand, Gasol is no Ryan Anderson.
He can hit the three, but he's better off a few steps closer to the basket. Howard may be at this best when Antawn Jamison comes into the game and affords the big man a more Anderson-like spread-4.
Of course, Howard may frustrate Gasol a bit too. While Pau has a nice mid-range game, his abilities to post-up or battle for offensive rebounds are underrated, and they'll probably be showcased even less now that Howard's around.
To whatever extent Bynum clogged the paint in L.A.s half-court offense, Howard will do so even more.
At the end of the day, there's really no one who will throw Nash for a loop on the floor. You just have to wonder how he'll feel about Metta World Peace...in general.
Nash is nothing if not a picture of well-adjusted normalcy. Metta, on the other hand, is a distraction. Just when you think he's taken to relaxing a bit, the elbows start flying. And, regardless of the improvement he's shown over the years, you can rest assured there are a lot of small forwards the Lakers would rather have on the roster.
World Peace is supposedly coming into training camp in great shape, and there's enough reason to believe he'll have a solid season.
You just have to hope he doesn't do anything stupid at the worst possible time. Nash certainly is.
Gasol is versatile enough to fit pretty well with just about any kind of lineup.
The only threat to his success is locker-room turbulence. Kobe Bryant blamed him publicly for being too passive in the playoffs, and that came after a season's worth of speculation that Gasol would be involved in any one of several trades that had been discussed in the media.
He was all but out the door when the Lakers were set to acquire Chris Paul prior to the start of the season, so his ability to remain focused throughout the year was actually pretty impressive.
We know the Bryant has Gasol's back in theory, but another round of the blame game might not go over well with a guy who's been through a lot lately.
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