This season seemed to start off well when the Lakers acquired Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. Then Mike Brown decided that this group of players would be a good fit for a little thing called, “The Princeton Offense”. Well after a 1-4 start to the season, it was clear to see that Brown and his coaching style had to go. With Brown out the door, the typical L.A. Soap opera has taken center stage and not disappointed. So here we are: a new coach, a new style, and a new hope.
Despite these Lakers changes, the only thing that hasn’t changed through out all of this is our actual team roster. We still have the L.A. version of the Big 3 with the Big 4 of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. One of the benefits of having such dominate players starting for our team is that each one demands the respect of the defense. This causes defenses to try and double-team these players at multiple points during each game. These situations can create an opening for our team to grow into one of the best teams in the NBA. However, with Steve Nash now injured, Steve Blake is seeing the majority of point guard time. The cascade effect of this is that our bench will get more playing time as well. Our bench and our role players will be crucial to the overall success of our team.
One of the biggest frustrations I have this year is when Lakers players either hesitate or miss open shots. We have six players on our team that have led their previous teams in scoring or provided key leadership: Pau, Antawn, Kobe, Dwight, Steve, and Metta. On the bench we have three competent three-point shooters in Steve Blake, Chris Duhon and Jodie Meeks. All 3 should leave us with no excuse for hesitated or missed open looks. These players have the responsibility to step up and capitalize on their shot opportunities.
When these guys start playing with a bit more consistency it will also allow Kobe, Nash, and World Peace to get a more rest. That is the key to the success for the Lakers: Our primary lead players must be allowed to limit their regular season minutes to both prolong their careers and ensure enough energy to complete a deep playoff run. To accomplish this, it is vital that each player knows and understands their role on this team. The person that I am speaking of specifically is Antawn Jamison.
Antawn Jamison is a great basketball player with a proven ability to both play down low and hit outside shots. He needs to take it upon himself to be the leader of the bench and second unit. His consistency has been poor thus far this season but he has still had some good moments that give us reason to believe we can count on him for the rest of the year. While on the court with the second unit, he can be that key player that forces defenses to double-team him to give other players open looks.
Throughout the past decade we have seen our team built around Kobe’s ability to take over a game while the rest of the players simply wear a jersey and enjoy a good seat. This team cannot be one of those teams. These bench players need to understand their roles, execute their specific tasks and hit open shots. If they can find consistent success in these departments we will be able to compete with any team in the league this year.