The Los Angeles Lakers made some significant upgrades during the offseason acquiring two-time NBA MVP, Steve Nash, and the best defensive Center in the league in Dwight Howard. They key to both of those acquisitions was that the Lakers found a way to get better and keep Pau Gasol. Gasol is one of the most versatile big men in the NBA today and despite constant criticism, the Lakers are better off with him.
As the Lakers head into their 2012-13 campaign they will eventually boast one of the most formidable lineups in recent NBA history. Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard once he is ready to return; sounds like a walk to the NBA title right? Well maybe not so fast.
The Lakers may look like the best team on paper but they are truly far from championship material. Chemistry could cost this team significantly and ultimately hinder their title aspirations. Whether it’s distribution or scoring, Kobe, Nash, and Dwight all need the ball in order to do what they do best. Throughout his NBA career, Kobe Bryant has never had a premier Point Guard. Now that he does, he’ll surely have to adjust his game if this Lakers team is going to reach its maximum potential.
For years Kobe Bryant has made a living on creating the best shots possible for himself. With Nash in the mix, that philosophy will have to change. Nash has the ability to find the open man in the best position to score whether it’s Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace or Reeves Nelson. Come on Lakers fans. Be honest. How long can Kobe tolerate the Lakers attack not running primarily through him? He’s already made it clear that the Lakers are still his team.
“I got a question earlier about whose team this is,” Bryant told reporters at the Lakers media day Monday. “I don’t want to get into the, ‘Well, we share …’ No, it’s my team. But I want to make sure that Dwight, when I retire, this is going to be his. I want to teach him everything I possibly know so that when I step away this organization can ride on as if I never left.”
The bottom line is that Kobe Bryant is the key to making this Lakers team work. It’s often said that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks and as Bryant enters his 17th season in the NBA, his willingness to conform to the new look Lakers roster strengths could make or break the team’s season. If Bryant can swallow his pride (doubtful) and become a role player in the Lakers offense, then the Lakers have a tremendous shot at winning it all. However if he still wants to be the centerpiece on an offensively gifted roster, the Lakers chemistry will suffer. Kobe has to learn quickly to separate leadership from scoring. The Lakers can still be “his team” without him taking 30 shots a game. Just ask Magic Johnson.
We’ll see what happens. But it’s really all up to Kobe Bryant.
Follow Aaron on Twitter @Da_Bear_Truth.