5 Things We Want to See from the L.A. Lakers in 2013

Benjamin CruzFeatured ColumnistJanuary 3, 2013

5 Things We Want to See from the L.A. Lakers in 2013

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    Everyone has their opinion on what is causing the struggles of the Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe Bryant's take?

    "We're old as s---"

    There likely won't be any Benjamin Button-type spell cast on the aging Lakers roster, but given the talent they have, there is still plenty of time for them to turn their season around and prevent it from becoming a disastrous one.

    With a fresh calendar year upon us, let's take a look at a few things we want to see from the Lakers in 2013.

    Note: All stats are accurate as of January 3, 2012

Slow the Offensive Pace

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    When Mike D'Antoni was hired this season, many were excited at the possibility of witnessing Steve Nash implementing D'Antoni's famous "seven seconds or less" offense flanked by the likes of Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol.

    The reality of the situation is that the Lakers are actually a better team when they aren't ripping and running all over the court. According to ESPN, the Lakers are 10-5 this season when they have 95 or less possessions in a game. In games where they have 96 or more possessions, L.A. is 5-11.

    Slowing the pace may give Gasol and Howard more back-to-the-basket opportunities, therefore freeing things up more for their teammates in the half-court sets and quite possibly helping make Kobe more efficient than he has been thus far.

    Is D'Antoni so stuck in his ways that he won't consider slowing things down even with Nash now back in the lineup? It may go against everything he's known as a coach, but given the older and slower roster he possesses, it may be in his and the team's best interest to try and dial it down a little bit.

Dwight Howard's Return to Form

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    For anyone else in the league, averaging 17.3 points per game and 11.9 rebounds would have everyone singing your praises left and right. For Dwight Howard, these numbers are not quite up to par.

    When the Lakers traded for Dwight this offseason, they were expecting to see the same guy in Orlando who was flat out dominant defensively and looked like he moonlighted as one of Leonidas' troops from the film "300."

    They haven't quite gotten that.

    Howard's back surgery that took place in April is still taking its toll almost nine months later. He isn't at 100 percent and as a result, he is not at 100 percent effectiveness. When a guy says that he sometimes can't feel his feet, that's generally not a good sign.

    If the Lakers are to start winning basketball games consistently, they're going to need the Dwight Howard of old to make his return to the hardwood.

Antawn Jamison's Return to the Rotation

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    For the past six games, Antawn Jamison has become very familiar with what the view is like from the Lakers bench. He's scored a total of 0 points and played 0 minutes in those six games. It's not exactly the role Jamison envisioned when he chose to come play out west.

    Jamison's game seems to fit exactly what Mike D'Antoni needs in his system (shooting, scoring and shooting). However, D'Antoni has gone with Jordan Hill as the primary backup to Pau Gasol—mainly for defensive reasons.

    Despite his shortcomings on defense, Jamison can still be a potent weapon on offense when utilized properly. Given D'Antoni's ability to put his players in spots to succeed offensively, he should figure out a way to get Jamison on the court thus giving the Lakers attack another look that teams have to worry about.

Improved Defense

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    L.A. is currently 25th in the NBA in points allowed at 100.3 per game. Obviously in D'Antoni's system, defense isn't the No. 1 message preached, but in order for the Lakers to emerge as true contenders, they're going to need to step up their defensive intensity.

    Dwight Howard was supposed to be the answer to any problems the Lakers had defensively, but as great as he is, he can't do it all by himself.

    The likes of Metta World Peace and Darius Morris are going to need to help prove that the Lakers are just as much about defense as they are about offense. If this team can play even average defense consistently, that increases the chances of winning games exponentially given the amount of firepower this roster has on offense.

Kobe Wins the Scoring Title

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    When Dwight Howard and Steve Nash came to the Lakers, it looked like Kobe's scoring and his minutes would take a bit of a hit as a result of Howard and Nash shouldering more responsibility. Up to this point, that really hasn't come to fruition.

    Kobe is currently leading the league in scoring at 30.3 points per game, and it doesn't look like that's going to drop anytime soon.

    This would be Kobe's third scoring title (first since 2007) and would be a nice addition to his laundry list of career honors—especially at age 34 when most people thought he didn't have this in him.

    I know he only really cares about one specific kind of title, but this one would be nice to have regardless of how the season pans out for the Lakers.