NBA: The Los Angeles Lakers and Other Teams That Aren't as Good as You Think
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All the changes made in the NBA offseason left some teams looking a little bare.
Other teams, like the Dwight Howard-wielding Lakers, are looking stronger than ever. But things aren’t always as they appear.
Just because a team looks good on paper doesn’t make it a shoe-in for the title, or even the postseason.
The New York Knicks
Knicks' Amare Stoudemire talks to Head Coach Mike Woodson in Game 4 of the 2012 NBA playoffs against the Miami Heat.
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The Knicks may have the oldest team in the league, but they also have what looks to be one of the best rosters. The average age of the Knicks is 32, thanks to veterans like 39-year-old Jason Kidd and 40-year-old Kurt Thomas.
But with age comes experience, which will be one of the keys to the Knicks season.
Jason Kidd was once one of the best point guards in the league. As a backup, his career averaged nine assists per game is a great asset to the Knicks.
Kidd, Thomas, Marcus Camby and other vets add a depth to the Knicks team that doesn’t otherwise exist in the NBA. The team has solid, veteran backup players who know how to take control of the game.
And the starting lineup isn’t too shabby. Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Amare Stoudemire are among the starters for the Knicks.
But the starting lineup looked just as good last season when the team struggled during the regular season. They went on to lose all but one game to the Miami Heat, falling in the first round of the playoffs.
New York also let go of Jeremy Lin, who got hot last year and gave the team the spark it needed to start winning games.
The Knicks look good on paper, but the players didn’t seem to mesh well last season. If the veterans on the team can’t get things going, it will be another disappointing, championship-less year for the Knicks.
The Dallas Mavericks
Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki goes around Nick Collison in Game 1 of Dallas' 2012 playoffs series against the Thunder.
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The Mavs have a decent starting lineup in Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, Chris Kaman, O.J. Mayo and Darren Collison.
Collison was a solid point guard for the Pacers last season, averaging 10 PPG and five assists.
O.J. Mayo, though his production has been declining since he joined the league, has potential to be a great asset to the team in terms of scoring.
Chris Kaman is a seven-footer who provides some size in the post, rebounds, and averaged 13 PPG last season.
After winning the NBA Championship two years ago, the Mavericks still seem to be in a rebuilding phase. The season following the championship, the team came back without Tyson Chandler, and the next year lost Jason Terry and Jason Kidd.
Other attempts at adding to its roster haven’t worked out. The acquisition of Lamar Odom could have been great for the Mavs, but he played poorly and left the team before the season’s end.
Dallas also tried to get PG Deron Williams in the offseason, but were unsuccessful.
The Mavs still have a solid team, but it’s a team should be better and may struggle to get to the playoffs this year.
The Boston Celtics
Rajon Rondo catches his breath in Game 7 of Boston's series against the Miami Heat in the 2012 NBA playoffs.
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Rajon Rondo is one of the best point guards playing in the NBA, and any team with him on its roster looks good automatically.
Along with their top scorers, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass and Courtney Lee give the Celtics another 20 points per game.
Boston lost a career 40 percent three-point shooter in Ray Allen when he signed with Miami in the offseason. That came after there were reports that Allen and Rondo weren’t getting along and that Rondo was a difficult player to work with.
On top of that, the two of the team’s most valuable players are getting old as Kevin Garnett is now 36 and Paul Pierce 34. Both would probably fare better throughout the season by playing fewer minutes.
But the Celtics bench is a little unpredictable. Jeff Green, Boston’s backup small forward missed all of last season after undergoing heart surgery and may have some trouble getting back into the mix.
Rookie Jared Sullinger averaged 17 PPG at Ohio State and shot better than 50 percent. But NBA doctors discovered that he has a bad back and the backup forward may be prone to injury.
Aside from Jason Terry and a healthy Jared Sullinger, the Celtics don’t have much scoring off the bench. And if the aging star players can’t stay on the court all season, Boston has no chance of getting as far as they did last season in the playoffs.
The Los Angeles Lakers
Lakers' Kobe Bryant in Game 4 of the Lakers series vs. Oklahoma City in the 2012 NBA playoffs.
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The Lakers will be good. There’s no doubt about that. It’s just a question of how good they’ll be.
The team had a busy offseason, picking up Steve Nash and an unhappy-in-Orlando Dwight Howard.
The acquisitions give the Lakers more depth, size, and talent. With Pau Gasol at the power forward position and Howard at center, it’ll be even harder for opposing teams to score inside than when it was Gasol and Andrew Bynum guarding the post. And with Nash, Kobe Bryant and Metta World Peace, the Lakers might just have the best starting lineup in the league.
But with big names can come big egos.
Magic fans have seen how inconsistent, and at times unproductive Dwight Howard can be when he made it clear that he wanted a trade from Orlando last season. And though it’s not expected that Howard will be unhappy in L.A., there is a chance that some of those inconsistent tendencies carry over.
There’s also been the question raised of whether Kobe and Nash can co-exist. Both players are used to being the main guys on offense, for the most part. Playing together may not be an easy adjustment for either to make.
The Lakers are a team stacked with talent. They will make the playoffs. But only time will tell if they’re good enough to win it all in June.