The Los Angeles Lakers are a unique team in the NBA, with the main reason being their two talented big guys. With Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol you have arguably two of the top 15 players in the NBA. When you have two talented players such as this, you have to be able to utilize them. Every team has certain advantages that they try to impose on their opponents. Very few teams have the capability to slow down the Lakers big guys but the Lakers as a team seem to slow themselves down.
Teams around the NBA are beginning to go with smaller, more athletic lineups when it comes to the way their rosters are formed. The Miami Heat has changed the way a lot of teams are building their rosters at the moment. Even though the small and quick lineup works for the Heat, is not the exact makeup of every team.
In order for the Lakers to get the maximum exposure out of their roster they have to use Howard and Gasol to make other teams pay for playing ‘small ball’. There should never be a game where the Lakers are out rebounded by another team. Their bigs are just too good and skilled for that to happen. The offense should try and get both Gasol and Howard going early because that establishes the tempo as well as helps get the other team in foul trouble when they do so. As a team, the Lakers shoot too many jump shots overall, and they need to feed the post for higher percentage shots while working an inside-out strategy. Whenever there’s a pass off a post feed there’s usually a wide open shot that is created off of that.
On defense, the two bigs can be utilized more effectively as well. One of the biggest concerns is having Gasol out on the perimeter defending ‘stretch 4’s’ for the majority of the game. We all know that Gasol is getting older and isn’t as quick as he once was, so he is going to have to make a huge effort on contesting three point shots and also getting back in transition on defense. Howard defensively is great so there’s no real concern for him but the Lakers need him at full strength to cover up for the defensive weaknesses at other positions.
Once the Lakers figure out how to use both of their bigs, they should be able to become more consistent. Certain things take time, and on a team like this where everything is new there will be growing pains. When the game slows down in the playoffs the Lakers should be able to use their biggest advantage in order to control the paint on both ends of the court. Basketball is all about using your strengths to help you win games and we will see if the Lakers do so.