L.A. Lakers: Pre-Training Camp Player Power Rankings

James PearsonCorrespondent ISeptember 24, 2012

L.A. Lakers: Pre-Training Camp Player Power Rankings

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    The Los Angeles Lakers are now loaded with NBA stars. Well, even more so than before.

    The power rankings within the Lakers' own organization will be key for everyone to understand their hierarchy and new role in Los Angeles.

    The biggest concern for the Lakers heading into training camp is the chemistry between their new stars—avoiding problems similar to when Karl Malone and Gary Payton wore the purple and gold.

    Getting everyone on the same page and understanding their roles is going to be essential. While they are loaded with talent, getting everyone comfortable with less touches and a reduced role will be as important as anything else they do in training camp.

    Here is how the Lakers stars align heading into training camp.

14. Robert Sacre/Darius Morris/Darius Johnson-Odom

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    The bottom three on this Lakers team are in a battle for the 15th spot on the roster.

    With the talent the Lakers have, essentially they are fighting to see who spends the least amount of time in the D-League.

    Darius Morris has potential, but he is years away from realizing it—hanging around Steve Nash is only going to speed up his process.

    Darius Johnson-Odom will bring a lot of energy and defense, something that is always welcomed on the end of a bench.

    Robert Sacre, while lackluster, could carve out a role early in the season as Dwight Howard recovers from back surgery.

13. Andrew Goudelock

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    The addition of Jodie Meeks all but ended Andrew Goudelock's chances of playing a significant role for the Lakers this season.

    Goudelock has good shooting range, but it's his inability to create a shot and his lack of defense that will have him buried on the Lakers bench.

    Entering just his second year of NBA basketball, Goudelock has time to develop, but don't expect much, if any, contribution from him this season (barring injuries, of course).

12. Earl Clark

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    Earl Clark was thrown into the deal that brought Dwight Howard to Los Angeles.

    He has an advantage in that he has backed up Howard in the past, so, if need be, he can do it again. The best-case scenario for Clark is supplying 10-12 minutes of solid defense to give the Lakers frontcourt some rest.

    He won't bring much of anything on the offensive end, but he can block shots and can get up and down the floor.

    That's always a plus when Steve Nash is your point guard.

11. Devin Ebanks

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    With the overall age of this Lakers team, there is no question Ebanks will get some playing time. How much time is a whole another question.

    Being a strong defender, and the likelihood of a Metta World Peace suspension, will only help his chances of increasing his minutes.

    Ebanks did start 12 games last year, but with the new additions to the Lakers bench don't expect him to be in the starting-five anytime soon.

    If Ebanks wants to be a member of the Lakers rotation he needs to use this upcoming training camp to prove to Mike Brown that he has enough offense to earn consistent minutes.

10. Chris Duhon

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    It seems like a lifetime ago that Chris Duhon looked liked a legit NBA player with the New York Knicks.

    Since he has been out of Mike D'Antoni's system, the numbers just haven't been there.

    To beat out Steve Blake as the primary backup to Steve Nash, he is going to have to rekindle whatever magic he had in that same system that helped Nash win two MVP awards.

    Duhon provides some value on defense, however, his offense has been so porous that he doesn't warrant playing time.

    The only reason he may crack the rotation is because of the guy ahead of him.

9. Steve Blake

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    Steve Blake is as inconsistent as they come.

    Although, the last two seasons he has been consistently bad.

    Aside from knocking down some big shots, this probably isn't what the Lakers had in mind when they signed him to a four-year $16 million deal.

    The Lakers are going to need someone to come in and relieve Steve Nash to limit his minutes much as possible to be fresh for the playoffs. Right now it looks like Blake is that man.

    Blake's 38.7 career three-point percentage, above-average defense and experience with the Lakers gives him the edge over Chris Duhon for now.

    This training camp, Blake should follow Nash around like a puppy dog and learn everything he can to have a Nash-like impact on the second unit.

    Or at least any kind of impact on the second unit.

8. Jodie Meeks

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    Jodie Meeks has made a name for himself in the NBA thus far as a shooting specialist who provides solid defense.

    Now he will be known as the man who relieves Kobe Bryant.

    Given Bryant's age (34) and the fact that he is entering his 17th NBA season, Meeks may end up playing big minutes.

    Meeks will be a valuable asset at the back end of the Lakers rotation as long as he can stretch the defense. His shooting percentage was down a bit last season (36.5 percent from downtown), but that should climb back up with all the open looks this team will generate.

7. Jordan Hill

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    As the primary backup to Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard, Jordan Hill is an important member of this Lakers team.

    With the start date of Howard's season very much in doubt, Hill may play a big role to start the season.

    Hill became an important member of the Lakers, as he carved out playing time with his energy and hustle last season. That's exactly what the Lakers expect from him this season.

    As an extremely athletic big man who can rebound, Hill can turn himself into one of the better backups in the NBA with improved offense, while he limits his personal fouls.

6. Antawn Jamison

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    This is Antawn Jamison's last chance at getting a ring.

    He now has the task of being the primary offensive weapon on a bench that has seriously lacked offensive-firepower.

    Jamison has played the role of sixth man before, including winning the Sixth Man of the Year award in 2004, so it won't be completely foreign to him. At age 36 now, coming off the bench best suits his abilities.

    Jamison's shooting percentage really dipped last season, clocking in at 40.7 percent. He needs to use this training camp to get his shot back to normal, as he is a career 45.1 percent shooter.

    His offense will prove to be vital off the bench, but at his age and with his lack of defensive abilities, expect to see a lot of Dwight Howard when Jamison is on the floor.

5. Metta World Peace

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    Metta World Peace is going to play a big role on this team.

    The Lakers are going to rely on him as a defensive weapon to guard the Kevin Durant's and LeBron James' of the NBA.

    On offense, World Peace could have a big year.

    With Howard, Nash, Bryant and Gasol, teams might have to think of leaving World Peace almost completely uncontested for most of the game.

    He will end up with an enormous amount of wide-open threes, and if he can hit on 40 percent of them, the Lakers offense will be unstoppable.

    In training camp, World Peace should be shooting threes until his arms fall off so that he can finish anywhere close to 40 percent from downtown.

4. Pau Gasol

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    When Pau Gasol is the fourth-best player on your team, it's safe to say the path is set to reach the NBA Finals. If the fourth-best player sounds harsh, just think of him as 2-C.

    Gasol's confidence should be at an all-time high heading into training camp, as he is coming off a tremendous Olympics where he led Spain to a silver medal. Now with Andrew Bynum gone, Gasol can put all the trade rumors and "is this the day I get traded?" thoughts out of his head.

    He can focus solely on winning.

    Gasol, like mostly everyone on this team, needs to get adjusted with the new weapons that surround this talent-laden Lakers team.

    Knowing that he is in L.A. to stay, with Steve Nash now setting him up, Gasol should be as happy as ever.

3. Steve Nash

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    What a situation Steve Nash walked into.

    I guess he earned it after playing on a lottery team for the past few years.

    If anyone deserves this type of chance for a championship ring it's Nash. He now has the task of guiding one of the most talented teams in the NBA to the Finals.

    It's not going to be easy, though.

    It's his job to keep everyone happy while still playing his game. He should adjust well with his history of playing with top-level talent, so expect a high assist total and a high three-point percentage... and a lot of wins. 

2. Dwight Howard

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    Dwight Howard recently stated: "I never wanted anyone to hate me."

    Well I can't speak for the rest of the world, but Los Angeles is not going to hate you.

    Howard will bring his three-time Defensive Player of the Year game to control the paint in L.A.

    Better yet, with a lack of a go-to move in the post, he now has an elite point guard to spoon-feed him the basketball.

    Howard will be more important than anyone not named Kobe on this team due to his defensive abilities. He will make up for the lack of defense that some perimeter players possess, and, additionally, his presence in the middle will allow Bryant to ease himself defensively and extend his career.

    Still hobbled by back surgery, Howard should be taking it slow this training camp until he makes a full-recovery. If he can help lead the Lakers to a title he will erase the "Dwightmare" from everyone's minds.

    Let's hope he can do it for that sake.

1. Kobe Bryant

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    Kobe Bryant now has the team to chase Michael Jordan in his quest for a sixth ring.

    Magic Johnson coerced Dwight Howard into coming to L.A. by claiming Bryant is the "ultimate closer."

    That's exactly what he will need to be for this team to get that ring.

    Not just that, a key to this training camp will be how well Bryant relinquishes some of the scoring responsibilities. With the talent surrounding him, he can't go all Kobe Bryant on everyone anymore.

    While he is not getting any younger, Bryant is still the main attraction in L.A., but he needs to learn how to play with another star in the same backcourt. He's never had to do that before.

    For the sake of another ring, he shouldn't have too much of a problem doing that.