L.A. Lakers Fantasy Profile: Player-by-Player Breakdown

Jamal Collier@@JCollierDAnalyst IIIOctober 9, 2012

L.A. Lakers Fantasy Profile: Player-by-Player Breakdown

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    Dwight Howard and Steve Nash will play together for the first time this season, adding a pair of All-Stars to a Los Angeles Lakers team that already includes Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.

    On the NBA front, chemistry issues might not be as pronounced as the growing pains that the Miami Heat experienced during its current team’s assembly.

    That’s because L.A. will have a veteran starting point guard and an established, dominant presence in the paint—two things the Heat did not have. What the Lakers will have to worry more about is keeping their team healthy.

    As many as four Lakers should be off of fantasy draft boards by the end of the third round. Read on to find out how the Lakers starters should fare on the fantasy hardwood. 

Steve Nash, PG

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    Nash is one of the most efficient shooters in the NBA, and he doesn’t have to do his damage from the vicinity of the rim in order to be effective.

    The Lakers will dare guys to double-team Kobe Bryant or Dwight Howard and let those guys kick it out to Nash so he can bang in three after three.

    At the same time, if too much attention is paid to Nash as a scoring threat, he’ll be more than happy to delegate buckets to other guys on the floor.

    He’s a serious candidate to lead the league in assists per game, but the Lakers have championship aspirations. They’re aware of the age of their new-found point guard (38) and will likely play him accordingly.

    He averaged 10.7 assists in 31.2 minutes per game in Phoenix last season.

    In an effort to keep him fresh, L.A. may not use Nash as extensively as some of the younger legs at the point guard position will see the floor this season.

    He’ll also probably take a night off here and there—remember, he’s leaving a legendary training staff in Phoenix, and he did that there, too.

    It’s probably best not to draft Nash—instead looking in the direction of guys like Russell Westbrook—and look to trade for him in late November or early December after whatever growing pains he has with the Lakers begin to subside.

Kobe Bryant, SG

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    Kobe’s field-goal percentage has dropped in each of the last three seasons while he’s jacking up more threes and his assist numbers start to decline.

    But Kobe’s never had a point guard like Steve Nash.

    The Nash Effect should be felt for all of the Lakers, but Bryant’s production might be the case that sees the most favorable bump in efficiency. He didn’t forget how to score the ball; he’s just had to do so while dealing with an awful lot of defensive attention.

    If the Lakers hand the keys to Steve Nash (as they absolutely should if they’re going to bring in a guy like that, but that’s a story for another time), Bryant’s going to go off this season.

    You can’t consistently double-team a guy off-ball and expect to win the game with a great PG at the helm of the offense.

    If Bryant is the initiator of the offense, the Lakers’ efficiency will probably suffer, at least from a fantasy perspective.

    He’ll still be easily a top-five 2-guard worth crafting a fantasy lineup around because of his capabilities to do more than score the ball.

Metta World Peace, SF

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    You’re not going to be particularly interested in drafting the artist formerly known as Ron Artest to your fantasy roster.

    He can’t lend his on-court tenacity to your statistical lineup.

    World Peace’s qualities that may make him attractive in the later rounds of drafts include his three-pointers made and steals from the small forward position.

    Those have come at the expense of sub-par shooting percentages, however, so it’s best to shore up the SF spot in your lineup with another player or two.

Pau Gasol, PF

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    Pau’s scoring numbers and field-goal percentage dipped severely in the playoffs last season. What he still had during the postseason, however, was that rare combination of solid free-throw percentage, assists and blocks that make for a No. 1-type fantasy big man.

    The defensive attention will likely be more focused on Dwight Howard in the post, giving Gasol freedom to roam the other block and get easy buckets. His 50.1 field-goal percentage from last season should be viewed as a disappointment this time around.

    He should be the third or fourth option in the offense (behind Bryant and Howard), so his 18-19 PPG days are likely behind him.

    But he can still be a legit double-double guy with supplemental statistics that help your fantasy team in other areas.

Dwight Howard, C

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    The man known as D12 is a dominant force in fantasy basketball as well as the NBA game.

    Too bad he’s also a major detriment to a particular percentage category.

    Howard has persistently sand-bagged the free-throw percentage of every team he’s been a part of since he’s come into the NBA.

    His numbers dropped to an astonishingly low level in 2012 for a guy who spends so much time at the line. Howard shot just 49.1 percent from the line on 10.6 attempts per game.

    That’s a full 18 percentage points lower than what he shot from the stripe in his rookie season. The magnitude of his inefficiency from the line last year would erase any benefit a guy like Steve Nash will get you (an all-time great FT shooter that doesn’t get to the line much).

    It would similarly nullify the advantage that the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant may provide for your team: a high free-throw percentage on a high volume of attempts.

    The good news is that Howard is always in the conversation to lead the league in rebounding and blocked shots, averages one steal per game in his career and dropped 20 points per game in four of the last five seasons.

    He’s a top-flight fantasy center, but you’ll have to alter your draft strategy to have a chance at winning with him.