The Los Angeles Lakers made a number moves during the off-season including acquiring Dwight Howard, Steve Nash and Antawn Jamison. This has caused Kobe Bryant to proclaim that the 2012-2013 team is “On its face, it’s the best talent I’ve been around.”
Add those names to Pau Gasol and Ron Artest and it’s not surprising at all. Yet, is it really true? Is this the most talented team that he’s been on? Whether it is or not will be answered at the end of the season, but now is a little too soon to make that claim.
With Nash there’s an issue with how many minutes he can play per night, if he can play at a slower pace, and if he will play defense. Howard lacks any post moves or a jumper, so no pick-and-rolls involving him. And if Gasol gets used he doesn’t have the range that Channing Frye possessed with the Phoenix Suns. Jamison will do what he does best and that is score off the bench.
Another question that comes up is will Bryant be okay with not having to handle the ball as much? The most concerning aspect for the Lakers will be the team’s chemistry.
On the roster that year was Shaquille O’Neal, Glen Rice, Ron Harper, Derek Fisher, Rick Fox and Robert Horry. The talent on that team outmatched the current Lakers roster and even the additions of Howard and Nash winning 67 isn’t plausible.
Also, important is the coaching. A team can have a number of talented players in the same lineup and it doesn’t necessarily translate into championships. The Houston Rockets attempted to do that in 1992 by adding Charles Barkley into the mix with Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon.
The Lakers made an attempt as well in 2003 by adding Karl Malone and Gary Payton. The New York Knicks haven’t found much luck with Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler mixed in their roster.
Which goes back to the 1999-2000 team, Phil Jackson had each player assigned to a specific role. O’Neal and Bryant were the primary scoring threats, Rice provided perimeter shooting, Fisher, Fox, and Harper defended and Horry came up with the clutch shots.
Another example of a more talented Lakers team came more recently in 2008-2009, a team that won 65 games with Gasol, Fisher, Lamar Odom, Trevor Ariza, Andrew Bynum and Jordan Farmar.
There’s also an argument for the 1997-1998 Lakers team coached by Del Harris that won 61 games. O’Neal and Eddie Jones as the primary scorers, Bryant coming off the bench gave instant offense and role players such as Fox, Horry, Fisher, Nick Van Exel and Elden Campbell.
It is hard to fathom the current Laker winning over 60 games and with talented teams such as the Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets, Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers it will be difficult to win a championship.
For Bryant it’s understandable he made that comment so he can get his new teammates fired up, the reality is the talent is up there, it’s just not the most talented team he’s been on.
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