Trail Blazers vs. Lakers: Building Chemistry Is Biggest Key for New-Look Lakers
As for now, it's all about getting on the same page.
The Lakers front office knew upgrades were necessary after watching the Miami Heat steamroll through the playoffs last season, and it didn't stop short. Adding Nash, Dwight Howard and Antawn Jamison will put Los Angeles right back in the title mix.
As the Heat found out during the first season with the "Big Three" of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, getting everybody to play as one cohesive unit isn't as easy as it might seem on paper or in video games.
That's why the Lakers have to take these preseason games more seriously than players like Bryant and Nash normally would. Not having Howard available due to a back injury is obviously disappointing, but a lot can still be accomplished.
Most notably, having Bryant understand what it's like to play alongside one of the best point guards in history. It will probably take a while before he gets used to not having to bring the ball up the floor in key moments.
The connection between him and Nash is the most important one of all. The potential is there for the two elite guards to step on each other's toes because they both love taking control of the offense, so it's vital to work out those kinks early.
Once they get their timing down, it's going to be a virtually unstoppable combo. They will have opposing defenses at their mercy, and that's even before including Howard in the conversation.
Are the Lakers favorites in the West?
Robert Sacre filled in for the injured center in the preseason opener, but there's no way he can emulate what Howard does in the post. So the Lakers' true potential probably won't be know until a couple of weeks after the former Orlando Magic star returns.
As long as everything else is smoothed out before then, it shouldn't be a major issue. Everybody knows what Howard brings to the table, namely terrific defense and rebounding ability, and that should allow him to slide in nicely.
So while the results don't matter during the preseason, the experience does for the Lakers. The sooner they are able to fit all of their new pieces together, the better their chances of making a serious run at the top seed in the Western Conference and eventually the finals.
These games, including the one against the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night, are a stepping stone to those lofty goals for the season.
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