The Los Angeles Lakers definitely made the biggest splash of the offseason by landing superstar big man Dwight Howard and prized point guard Steve Nash. Analysts are picking the Lakers as the NBA finals favorites and have marked them the team to beat without the squad even setting a foot on court.
However, people tend to react to teams ‘on paper’ more than actual team chemistry and fit. For example, take the Miami Heat. They lost to the Dallas Mavericks two years ago in the NBA finals, not because they had a worse team on paper, but because the Mavericks were deeper, played smarter and were more determined. The Heat didn’t have great chemistry in their first year, but they went and fixed that and maximized their roster’s potential this year by going out and winning a championship.
Now, the Lakers have a phenomenal team. The best center in the league to go with two, possibly three future hall of famers is certainly something special, but these new Laker additions might not be as mighty as some people are making them out to be.
Let’s start with Nash. Nash is a fantastic playmaker. His passes wow the crowd and he makes everyone on the floor better. However, Nash is a huge liability defensively at the most important defensive position, and this will cause breakdowns on defense for the Lakers. Yes, Nash is a phenomenal playmaker but he needs the ball in his hands. Playing beside the ball-dominant Kobe Bryant could make Nash less effective and take away from his overall game. On top of all that, Nash is 38 years old and is certainly past his prime.
Howard, the bigger addition, is approaching his prime, so age is certainly not an issue. He is the best defensive player in the league and a premiere rebounder, however, offensively Dwight might not be a big upgrade over ex-Laker Andrew Bynum. Bynum was a solid post player and a better free throw shooter than Dwight, and made the most out of his touches. With limited touches to share, I don’t see Dwight getting the ball much more than Bynum, especially with Pau Gasol, a potent offensive big man playing opposite of Dwight. Howard’s list of injuries as of late could also be a concern for the Lakers.
The Lakers have certainly improved their team overall, and should be a threat to win the West. With that being said, people need to get their expectations in check because with an aging Kobe and Nash, and an injury-prone Howard, this Laker team may not be so special after all.
Follow me on Twitter @Thesachman