Note: Sportsnet.ca will unveil a team preview every day from Oct. 1-30 counting down in reverse order where we believe the teams will finish.
The Lakers come in at No. 2:
2011-12 record: 41-25 (Division: 1st Pacific; Conference: 3rd-Tied Western).
Earl Clark (Acquired from Magic); Chris Duhon (Acquired from Magic); Dwight Howard (Acquired from Magic); Antawn Jamison (Signed from Cavs); Jodie Meeks (Signed from Sixers); Steve Nash (Acquired from Suns); Robert Sacre (Draft).
Andrew Bynum (Traded to Sixers); Christian Eyenga (Traded to Magic); Josh McRoberts (Traded to Magic; Ramon Sessions (Signed by Bobcats).
Key player: Kobe Bryant
Yes, the Los Angeles Lakers brought in a two-time MVP and a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, but how Kobe Bryant meshes with Steve Nash, Dwight Howard, and Pau Gasol is going to determine the Lakers’ success. If the 34-year-old Bryant is going to chuck up 20-plus shots every night while ignoring the best frontcourt and arguably the best creator/shooter in the NBA, there could be drama in La-La Land.
On paper, the Los Angeles Lakers look like the team to beat in 2012-13.
They continue to have the best offensive frontcourt in the league, even though they swapped Andrew Bynum for Dwight Howard at centre. Bynum may have the slight edge in low-post scoring, but Howard’s ability to play without the ball and thrive off put-backs or alley-oops will suit this high-octane offence even more.
In fact, the Lakers will no longer have to worry about feeding Bynum early in the game just for the sake of keeping him engaged. On defence, Howard will have a much greater impact as a help defender, especially with Steve Nash comically trying to stay in front of much younger and quicker point guards that currently litter the NBA.
One obvious problem the Lakers may be faced with is a clash of egos. Without Phil Jackson in charge, head coach Mike Brown will be under enormous pressure if this team hits a bump in the road.
Dear Mr. Brown, this will be much tougher than coaching a young phenom like LeBron James.
After some nasty playoff series between the Suns and Lakers, it will be interesting to see if there are any hard feelings between Nash and some of his new teammates.
More likely though is a bust-up between Howard and Bryant and/or Gasol. Howard has been in a dream world since joining the Lakers and it’s uncertain how his relaxed, happy-go-lucky attitude will sit with the super-serious Bryant and his frontcourt partner Gasol.
If everyone gets their touches — and who better than Nash to make those decisions — the Lakers could very well tie the Boston Celtics’ 17 franchise championships.
Which team will win the Western Conference this season?