The 2012 NBA regular season is just five days from tipping off. As a result, every NBA franchise must nurse its players' injuries and craft its rotations with a full month of preseason games behind it.
After the Los Angeles Lakers opened 0-7, one would think that no team could be happier about the preseason concluding. Due to the loss of their superstar leader, however, head coach Mike Brown and company should be praying for the next five days to last as long as possible.
Otherwise, the Lake Show could start the regular season with a significant absence from their rotation.
Per a report via Ramona Shelburne and Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant will miss the Lakers' final preseason game against the Sacramento Kings. Bryant could also miss the Lakers' October 30 season opener against the Dallas Mavericks.
"I don't know if he'll be ready [for the October 30th season opener]," [head coach Mike] Brown said after the Lakers 97-91 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday. "So yeah, I guess there is question. I'm just going to wait for [Lakers trainer] Gary Vitti to tell me he can play because there's nothing I can do about it until they release him anyway."
Bryant already missed the Lakers' 97-91 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on October 24. Although the preseason games will have no direct impact on Showtime's postseason placement, Bryant's early absence will.
Without their leader in the rotation, the Lakers will struggle to build team chemistry.
Allow History to Dictate the Future
As we evaluate the Los Angeles Lakers' roster and the chemistry issues they may face, the best model of comparison would be the 2011 Miami Heat.
Although the Heat dominated the Eastern Conference during the postseason en route to an NBA Finals appearance, their season started about as well as it finished. Much like the team appeared to be overmatched against the Dallas Mavericks, they were no better than an average team early in the regular season.
In fact, the Heat had a 9-8 record through the season's first 17 games.
This is close to what could transpire with the Lakers, who have revamped their entire roster by adding two new starters, a sixth man and a lead reserve.
With Kobe Bryant absent due to injury, the team's ability to build chemistry as they enter the season will be lost. In turn, a slow start could occur.
Though LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are, in all fairness, excellent passers, there is no comparison to be made to the stature of Steve Nash as a facilitator, which suggests that the Lakers could potentially overcome chemistry issues sooner than the 2011 Heat.
Already Went without Howard
This injury does not come at a time in which the Lakers had already spent a full month of training camp together as a healthy unit. Instead, it comes mere days after starting center Dwight Howard began to practice and play at full speed.
The news also comes days after D-12 made his preseason debut, which led to Howard being absent from the following preseason game (via ESPN Los Angeles).
The Lakers have had virtually no time with both Howard and Bryant healthy simultaneously. In turn, the team has been unable to develop an on-court relationship between their top two stars.
This is especially important considering the two together are expected to replicate the early 2000s success of Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal—the same Shaq who has emerged as both Kobe and D-12's greatest rival.
To fail in their pursuit of glory would be to give the retired big man virtual "bragging rights."
Learning Kobe's Shooting and Nash's Passing Tendencies
Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash are two of the greatest players in NBA history. To reach such a status, they did not play the game in the same way as their peers.
Instead, they carved out their own niche within their respective offenses and maximized the talent surrounding them. In turn, Nash and Bryant will one day retire as legends.
For that reason, it is imperative that the Lakers learn the shooting tendencies of Bryant and the passing nuances of Nash. As Dwight Howard illustrated in an interview with 710 ESPN Los Angeles, he's already having problems with the latter (via SportsRadioInterviews.com).
“Nash is one of the best passers that I’ve ever seen. We’ve been at practice and he’s hitting me with passes. I’ve dropped a lot of passes because I didn’t know he was going to pass the ball. That’s one thing we all have to get used to, a guy like Steve Nash breaking the defense down, and one day it was five on eight, no defense. I set a screen for him down the lane. He looked at me and looked away and looked at me again. He looked away and threw the ball to me. I wasn’t even ready. The ball went out of bounds and everybody just laughed.”
Nash is a phenomenal floor general who will develop chemistry for his teammates. That's one of the reasons he is a surefire Hall of Famer and a two-time league MVP.
What we cannot forget, however, is that the Lakers have another superstar with rare tendencies: Bryant.
Bryant has a tendency to take over games in ways that other players can only dream of. He also has a tendency to create his own shot and utilize his elite ball handling skills to open himself up for mid-range Js.
With this being said, Howard must learn Kobe's ways—both the good and the ugly.
D-12 must know when to crash the boards and when Bryant will look to him for a score close to the basket. Until that chemistry is developed, expect the Lakers to struggle.
Just don't hit the panic button too soon, as this team is built for the postseason—not meaningless regular season games.
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