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Just remember, every year one All-Star team loses
Before the coronation, there must always be a competition in sports. The reigning NBA champions learned that in their first year together. Yes, the dreaded Miami Heat did reach the NBA Finals in 2011, but not before starting the year 9-8.
Is it conceivable that the Lakers struggle out of the blocks before asserting themselves? Absolutely.
As a matter of fact, I would recommend to Lakers fans to brace yourselves for that probability. There are a ton of moving parts with this team, and cohesion doesn't work the way an old Erector Set did upon completion.
Expecting Dwight Howard to just be in midseason, dominant form is unrealistic. He will give this team bursts of that amazing defensive play, and his athleticism can offset much of the obvious rust to be expected. But meshing his talents with those of Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol and, yes, even Metta World Peace, is not going to just happen.
Many will counter that the 2004 Lakers started 18-3 during a tumultuous offseason en route to the NBA Finals. My obvious counter will be that while that team added Karl Malone and Gary Payton, both were veterans in decline and, along with Bryon Russell, the only real additions to a championship-caliber team.
By contrast, the Lakers only have three players from their last title team in 2010 (Bryant, Gasol and World Peace). This is essentially a new team with arguably the most important piece still in street clothes. Don't let the blowout losses fool you, as that's not the issue. The issue is that there is still a question as to how this rotation should look (not how it will look) because of an abundance of pieces.
More importantly, the pieces that are in place haven't played together yet.
When the players get some games under their belts, this will begin to look like the team everyone got excited about this summer. But that will take time.