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NBA Los Angeles Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers: 5 Players Who Must Step Up In 2013-2014

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5 Los Angeles Lakers Who Must Step Up In 2013-2014

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA season is now just over three weeks away and teams are training hard to be prepared for opening tip off. The Los Angeles Lakers are no exception to that standard as the team has hit the gym in order to be ready for their first game of the year, October 29, against their cross-arena foes the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Lakers are coming off a first-round sweep in which the San Antonio Spurs ousted them rudely from the 2012-2013 NBA playoffs. With the offseason loss of the Lakers’ centerpiece, Dwight Howard, and some other role players, the Purple and Gold roster was severely depleted. With very little wiggle room in terms of salaries and contracts, the Lakers handed out the few deals they could and signed multiple players at the minimum level.

After the Lakers’ management amnestied Metta World Peace, the team signed center Chris Kaman and resigned guard Jordan Farmar. In August, the Lakers signed their draft pick and former Duke Blue Devil, Ryan Kelly. With a couple other low level signings, the Lakers rounded out their 2013-2014 roster with several players who do not induce fear into opposing teams’ eyes.

With Kobe Bryant working hard to rehabilitate his Achilles injury and Steve Nash starting to age and require a lighter load, the rest of the Lakers need to step up in order for the 2013-2014 season to not be a failure. To say that Kobe is one of the Lakers who need to rise to the occasion would be an idiotic slight at one of the best players in the game, so do not expect that from this slideshow.

The honorable mention for this topic goes to center Jordan Hill. Despite missing much of last season with injuries, Hill had been coming into his own as a big man. Hill needs to keep up the momentum he built before the injuries and make the 2013-2014 season something great. With that being said, it is now time to dive into my slideshow of the five Lakers players who need to step up for the Purple and Gold this season. Click the “Next” button above to start the slideshow.

Isaac Comelli is a Los Angeles Dodgers writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @IsaacComelli, “Like” him on Facebook or follow him on Google.

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Center – Chris Kaman

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

With Howard leaving Los Angeles, the Lakers need their new big man to step up in a big way. He certainly will not be expected to fill the offensive roll that Howard left, but Kaman has averaged 11.75 points per game in his career. Nevertheless, Kaman’s main role will be a defensive stronghold. With over 800 blocks in his 10 year career, Kaman will need to be a defensive presence in order to keep the Lakers in the hunt for the playoffs.

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Guard – Steve Blake

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Blake has more potential as a guard than most give him credit. Despite limited playing time in the backup role to Derek Fisher and Nash for the majority of his career, Blake has always been a solid option. With the Lakers wanting to limit Nash’s minutes this season, Blake will need to step up in a big way. When he gets the chance to start, I have seen Blake do great things and I strongly believe he has the ability to keep the Lakers flowing on offense when Nash is resting.

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Forward – Pau Gasol

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Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Let me start by saying that I do not think Pau Gasol has slacked off at all recently. The reason I put him on this list of Lakers who need to step up is because he is the most important piece of the Lakers’ offense. Gasol really needs to keep the offense moving and prevent the game from becoming a one versus five with Kobe having to take on the entire defense. Gasol will slowly be reintroduced into the system as he is rehabbing his knees, but when he finally gets healthy, the Lakers will need him to produce on a large scale.

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Guard/Forward – Wesley Johnson

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Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Wesley Johnson is one of the Lakers’ newer acquisitions and the 6-7 guard/forward out of Syracuse will need to play well this season. Johnson had a great Summer League performance in Las Vegas, averaging 20.5 points per game and shooting 45% from behind the arc. The Lakers need solid shooters to knock down the open shots that Kobe, Nash and Blake will create and Johnson needs to lead the role players in that area.

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Guard – Steve Nash

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Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the fact that the Lakers want to limit Nash’s playing time, he needs to make the best of the minutes he gets. Although he was not bad in 2012-2013, Nash did not control the Lakers’ offense enough. Nash needs to get into the thick of things and help the Lakers move the ball around and create like we all know he can.

That does it for my slideshow. Thanks for reading and feel free to comment below with whatever you agree or disagree with.