With training camp tentatively set to begin a week from today, the Los Angeles Lakers are anxiously waiting to get back on the court and start working towards getting back to the NBA Finals.
Given the fact this year’s training camp will be shortened due to the lockout, the team will have less time to knock the cobwebs off their aging bones and learn what new coach Mike Brown has to offer.
But a short training camp is better than no training camp, right?
Here are five things the Lakers need to put at the top of their list to work on during training camp.
While I am sure all of the Lakers played basketball to some extent during the lockout, they have not played with one another since last May. Team members need to use the time in training camp to re-familiarize themselves with one another’s playing habits.
A slow start is not something the aging Lakers need, especially with a new, somewhat controversial coaching hire and pressure to erase the meltdown in last year’s postseason from the minds of fans.
Gone are the days of Phil Jackson and his triangle offense. Under new coach Mike Brown, the team’s offense will likely look drastically different.
The team will understandably and undoubtedly be rusty on the offensive end of the court to start the season thanks to the lockout.
But what the team doesn’t want it to look rusty and confused.
Kobe Bryant and co. need to eat, sleep and breathe Coach Brown’s new playbook.
The Los Angeles Lakers’ biggest strength still lies in their frontcourt.
Thus, not only does the team need to hope Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol are healthy come Christmas Day, Mike Brown and the coaching staff also need to make sure Bynum and Gasol are the focal points of the new offense.
If the two bigs are fed early and often to start the season, the Lakers will be in great position to start on a high note.
But if the Lakers don’t get enough shots in the paint, the debut of Brown’s new offense will be headed towards rocky reviews.
After last season ended, Kobe Bryant headed to Germany for an experimental knee procedure. Once training camp starts, we will all finally get to see how effective the procedure was.
If the procedure did wonders on Kobe’s knee and he feels better than he has in a while, the rest of the league will be cursing the surgeon who performed the procedure under their breath all season.
But if Kobe’s knee is still ailing, the team needs to make sure he paces himself during training camp, which is easier said than done.
With a combination of the extended offseason and Kobe’s one-of-a-kind competitiveness, it will be hard to keep Kobe from going full speed on the court, whether his knee is sore or not.
Despite Pau Gasol’s meltdown and the team’s offense looking terribly stagnant, defense—or lack of defense, I should say—was just as much to blame for the team’s loss to the Dallas Mavericks in last spring’s postseason.
Mike Brown is best known for being a defense-centric basketball coach. For the Lakers to get back to the NBA Finals, he needs to prove so.
In the four games against Dallas in the conference semifinals, the Lakers defense let the Mavericks average over 100 points per game, including 122 points and 20 three-pointers in the deciding game of the series.