The Los Angeles Lakers, if nothing else, have built a team chemistry that just never came to form last season. Injuries had a lot to do with the team failing to gel last season, but there was also a coaching change and differences at the top of the pecking order in what it takes to win.
Those difference, however, were never really resolved as the Lakers squeaked into the post season as the eighth seed and were immediately swept out of post season play by the San Antonio Spurs.
This year, things have been different with the team playing as a cohesive unit instead of disbanded individuals working against each other for a common goal. A huge reason why this season has been much different is because there has been no clear alpha dog, and it’s been more of a win-by-committee approach, counter to how things have been during Kobe Bryant’s tenure in Los Angeles.
With Bryant on his way back, likely within the next week or so, it’s become fair to wonder how the harmony on the court will change once Bryant is inserted into the offensive scheme. Pau Gasol believes that the transition will be an easy one, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPNLA.
“I think he’s experienced and the way everybody looks up to him will translate to energy and communication and cohesiveness,” Gasol said. “I believe the transition will be pretty smooth. It won’t be too hard.”
Mike D’Antoni has found a groove with his rotations, but he’s going to have quite a job not working Bryant into the rotation, but working everyone else around Bryant’s minutes.
What is promising is the fact that the team is already accustomed to not playing a set number minutes on a nightly basis. D’Antoni’s willingness to roll with the hot hand regardless of position this season has essentially prepared guys, especially those who play on the perimeter, to play more or fewer minutes on any given night — with the latter expected to come for most.
It’ll be interesting to see how the culture of this Lakers team changes over the course of December with the return of Bryant, and maybe Nash, to the club.
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