While we won’t have the pleasure of watching Dwight Howard in his first action in purple and gold, there will be plenty of other things to keep an eye on as the Lakers tip off their preseason in Fresno against the Warriors.
With Howard sitting as he continues to rehab from a back injury, the Lakers expect to start either Robert Sacre or Greg Somogyi at center. Both of the rookies possess potential with solid size and defense, but will need to prove that they can handle the pressures of the NBA. Regardless of who gets the start, both should get several opportunities to prove their worth.
Kobe Bryant, who missed most of this week’s practices due to foot soreness, is expected to play against the Warriors. Considering his history of playing through pain, we shouldn’t see anything other than the usual Bryant. It’ll be interesting to see how Bryant can produce with an elite point guard in Steve Nash in the same backcourt.
Another storyline to watch as the preseason progresses is who can secure the backup point guard spot behind Nash. Both Steve Blake and Chris Duhon – acquired in the Howard trade – have the skills to be a quality backup off of the bench, but bring different things to the table for the Lakers. The preseason will provide both will the chance to prove that they should receive the bulk of the bench minutes.
How productive will Antwan Jamison be for the Lakers? Acquired this offseason, the aging Jamison brings long-range shooting to a bench unit that had none of it in 2011-2012. This will be the first chance for the veteran small forward to secure his spot behind Metta World Peace on the Lakers’ depth chart.
This will also be the first glimpse that the Lakers get at how successful – or unsuccessful – their newly-implemented Princeton offense is going to be. The addition of Nash and his elite passing skills is expected to be the driving force behind the pick-and-roll heavy offense, which could do wonders for the Lakers throughout the 2012-2013 season. We’ll see tonight how well it’s going to work.
Most importantly, this will be the Lakers’ first chance to start building some chemistry amongst their players. With a rebuilt – and improved – roster and new playbook, the Lakers will look to get the ball rolling against the Warriors. This will be a terrific opportunity for them to improve on their cohesion as a team and build the chemistry that will help them succeed throughout the 2012-2013 campaign.
The road to the 2013 NBA Finals will certainly be a rocky one for the Lakers, regardless of how great their starting lineup might be. Here we go.