After an impressive summer, the Lakers now look ready to once again compete for the NBA Finals trophy. With one of the league's best distributors in Steve Nash, they finally have a player who can get players shots in the best possible locations. And with Dwight Howard, they have their defensive backbone—a player who will never take nights off and always show up on both sides of the ball. These new additions in tow, along with Kobe Bryant (still elite at his old age) and Pau Gasol (one of the most talented power forwards in the league), and the Lakers seem locked in for a top-two finish in the tough Western Conference.
However, the Lakers are still coached by Mike Brown, who struggled with the team in his first year in Los Angeles. His rotations were inconsistent and his offensive scheme suffered from a lack of a true identity. Brown originally preached an inside-out offensive style, saying before the season that the team would revolve around Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. But what happened was the opposite.
Kobe was forced to take twenty-three shots per game, his most since the 2005-2006 season. If that is his fault or Brown's is unknown, but the fact that Brown did not try to stop the constant isolation plays (Bryant led the league in usage rate at 35.7%) is a good indicator of the lack of synergy in LA's offense. Gasol and Bynum both dealt with consistency issues all season, and Bynum seemed unmotivated to play for Brown.
The Lakers look to be changing their offense again in 2012-2013. Former Wizards coach Eddie Jordan was brought in to help Brown run the Princeton offense, which emphasizes backdoor cuts and offensive screens in addition to a high level of skill from all five players on the court. Nash, Bryant and Gasol should be able to take advantage of an offense that caters to their wide variety of skills. Howard will get plenty of opportunities to score, as the Princeton reinforces creating mismatches and exploiting undisciplined defense.
Bryant approves of the new offense, saying that it takes the Lakers, "...back to being able to play by making reads and reacting to defenses. It takes a great deal of communication, but that's where we're at our best—reading and reacting."
Despite the fact that the Princeton offense sounds like it could immediately help LA, Brown must be consistent and gain a command over the team. If he can find a consistent rotation by the middle of the season and continue preaching the fundamentals of the Princeton offense, the Lakers should make a deep playoff run. If he continues to be indecisive and inconsistent, it may be the difference between a Finals ring and a new coaching search for the Lakers.