3 Reasons It Will Take Time for the New-Look Lakers to Find Team Chemistry
However, there is no need to hit that panic button quite yet, Lakers fans.
After losing the first three games of the year by an average of nine points, Los Angeles finally turned it around in an impressive showing against the winless Detroit Pistons on Sunday.
This game is not entirely telling of what is to come for a couple reasons—Nash is out and the Pistons are among the bottom dwellers in the NBA.
Yet, it does temporarily give the Lakers’ fan base a sense of reprieve.
When the Lakers were clicking on all cylinders against Detroit, they showed a glimpse of what they are capable of.
However, due to a new offense, new players, and the injury to Steve Nash, the Lakers most likely won’t reach their true potential until Christmastime.
The 2012-2013 Lakers season is just over a week underway, and the new Princeton style offense Mike Brown has implemented is already under heavy scrutiny.
Analysts such as former NBA All-Star Charles Barkley have already spoken out against the incorporation of the new offense and feel as though the Lakers' weapons are not being properly utilized.
“Mike Brown has to nix the Princeton thing,” Barkley said Tuesday while talking to the media. “And let Steve Nash push the ball. I've always said I want my accountants from Princeton, not my offense."
Is Barkley right? Should the new offense be nixed? Absolutely not.
In the Princeton offense everything is about timing. Each player is constantly in motion, using back-door cuts and off ball movement to create open looks.
The Lakers have had roughly one month to figure out each players' roles in the complex new system, all while facing injuries to Kobe, Nash and Dwight.
“It’s timing on things,” Bryant said. “We’re trying to get the offense down on who’s going to go where.”
As the Lakers continue to practice and improve upon the new offense, they will start winning, and team chemistry will form.
Already through four games, Kobe is shooting just about 60 percent from the field. Dwight is averaging 23.3 points per game—higher than his career average of 18.4—and the Lakers are averaging 100 points per game.
Imagine what they could do with another month of practice.
Much to the same tune as the Los Angeles Dodgers of 2012, it takes more than just a month for a group of superstars to mesh.
In basketball, team chemistry is even harder to create because of the fluidity of the game and continuous interaction amongst teammates.
What the Lakers have lacked so far this season is the ability to coexist harmoniously on the court.
Not only is the timing off on offense, but unfamiliarity with one another has also played a key role in the struggles on defense and with turnovers as well. Defense is predicated on rotations and the aptitude of the players to help each other out.
To do this, it requires communication and trust in your teammates to be there to bail you out if you get beat.
This cohesive defense takes time to build, and the Lakers still have plenty of work to do to get to that point.
The Lakers rank 27th in the league committing 18.5 turnovers per game, and if you take out the game against the Pistons, the Lakers would feature the second-worst defense in the NBA.
With three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard now anchoring a defense that already includes Metta World Peace and Kobe Bryant, the Lakers' defensive woes won’t last very long.
Injury to Steve Nash
In the second game of the season against Portland, newly acquired point guard Steve Nash suffered a fractured fibula that has kept him on the sideline ever since.
Initial reports listed Nash as day-to-day. However, according to an injury report made by ESPN, Nash could miss up to four weeks of play.
While Nash is no longer the focal point of the offense like he was in Phoenix, he does fulfill an enormous part in the Lakers' integration of the Princeton offense.
Much like a quarterback passing to his wide receivers, Steve Nash needs to build that same special relationship where you know where your teammates will be at all times.
Without Nash in the starting lineup, the Lakers cannot adequately work on efficiently implementing the offense, thus halting the chemistry process for the moment.
Once Nash returns towards the beginning of December and all five Lakers starters have time to gel together on the court for a few weeks, they will pick up on one another's tendencies and excel as a team just in time for the holidays.