The summer is over, and the season is here. After the long, drawn-out nightmare which was last season, and the drama infested free-agency period surrounding Dwight Howard, fans and players can now focus on the game of basketball.
The Lakers are well aware of the low expectations that the media has for them, as most believe that they don’t contain the roster that it takes to be competitive in the Western Conference. However, the Lakers aren’t phased by that and believe that the camaraderie that they’ve built during offseason workouts and so far in training camp will be very beneficial toward their success this season.
Tonight they’ll have the chance to show off this newfound team spirit, as they look to win their first preseason game since 2011. I know, it’s the preseason, but little things like a preseason win is a baby step toward this team achieving their full potential.
The Lakers will face off tonight against the Golden State Warriors, an up-and-coming, young team in the Western Conference. Last season, the Warriors finished their season as the 6th seed in the West due to the growth of Stephen Curry and the leadership of head coach Mark Jackson. Both the Lakers and the Warriors are looking to integrate the new pieces of their roster. The Warriors made a big move this offseason when they acquired former All-Star Andre Iguodala via sign-and-trade. His intensity and defense is expected to help take this Warriors team to title-contending heights, and they’re excited about what that pickup potentially entails for their future.
As for the Lakers, their roster is completely new and re-tooled. Players such as Dwight Howard, Metta World Peace, Darius Morris, Chris Duhon, and Antawn Jamison have relocated and have been replaced by Chris Kaman, Nick Young, Wes Johnson, and Jordan Farmar. The Lakers know that they’ll be without their star Kobe Bryant, as he continues to rehab his Achilles. Pau Gasol and Steve Nash are taking things slow so far in training camp, and won’t see the floor tonight, so we should see a lot of new faces on the court.
With a new roster and a new vibes currently circulating the Lakers roster, let’s take a look at the key things the Lakers should focus on this first preseason game.
Keys To The Game:
Develop a Defensive Identity – It is well known that the Lakers struggled tremendously on the defensive end last season. In both transition and half-court scenarios, the Lakers lacked the athleticism, quickness, and collective effort to get stops. Many felt this was largely due to the fact that they didn’t have a training camp with their head coach Mike D’Antoni, but others felt that it was simply due to the lack of personnel.
This offseason, the Lakers made the necessary moves to fill that lack of athleticism when they signed Farmar, Johnson, and Young. Now, it’s only a matter of developing a collective identity and showing it on the court. Reports are indicating that the Lakers have stressed defense as the primary focus at the beginning of camp, so let’s see if that’s true, and the Golden State Warriors present the roster that yields the perfect test.
Generate Chemistry on the Offensive End – Another benefit of the signings that the Lakers made this offseason was that they are traditional pieces that fit a “D’Antoni style” offense. Last season, the Lakers had issues expanding their offensive rotations due to the lack of personnel. With young legs and shooters now on the roster, head coach Mike D’Antoni now has the chance to build some chemistry on the offensive end. Of course, tonight will be hard for the Lakers to fully work on that chemistry, as Bryant, Nash, and Gasol will miss this game.
Build a Rotation – Many Laker fans remember the dreadful games last season in which Mike D’Antoni would shrink the rotation to as low as seven players on certain nights and at times, even did this on the second night of a back-t0-back. The Lakers were nothing near a deep roster, and their bench production ranked in the bottom three in the NBA. Head coach Mike D’Antoni must make it a priority, more than anything else arguably, to build a rotation that goes at least nine players deep. This team can’t count on their big three (Kobe-Gasol-Nash) to play 35 minutes every single game this season. He has to find a way for them to rest more often during the season and during games.
While the win is not the priority, it would be nice if the Lakers got one just to get good spirits flowing within the locker room. However, it is preseason, and the goal is to grow in preparation for the regular season.
It’s time to be excited; Lakers basketball is back.
Golden State Warriors (0-0) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (0-0)
7:00 PM PST, October 5, 2013
Citizens Business Bank Arena, Ontario, CA
TV: TWC SportsNet, NBATV
Warriors Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Stephen Curry SG: Klay Thompson SF: Andre Iguodala PF: David Lee C: Andrew Bogut
Key Reserves: G Tony Douglas, F Harrison Barnes, F Draymond Green
Check out our interview with Chris Kaman