This time last year, the Los Angeles Lakers had big expectations coming into the season.
However, a year has passed and the Lakers lost All-star center Dwight Howard in free agency to the Houston Rockets. While the team is certainly less talented than a year ago, the Lakers' chemistry is expected to be better.
Despite their limited cap space, the storied franchise went out and acquired cost-efficient players that are expected to thrive in Mike D'Antoni's fast paced offense. Youth and athleticism were two big issues last season, and the Lakers have seemed to resolve their problem by signing guys like Nick Young, Jordan Farmar and Wesley Johnson.
Obtaining former New York Knicks' player Shawne Williams, and signing former lottery pick Xavier Henry shows that the Lakers are committed to surrounding Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash with young players that have plenty of potential to pan out into productive players.
While losing defensive stopper Metta World Peace will hurt the Lakers' perimeter defense, the squad still has a capable young defender in Johnson and a proven tough on-ball defender in Kobe.
Furthermore, the team has had a lot of trouble in guarding the point guard position in recent years, which is why they acquired two-time champion Farmar.
The 26-year-old has the athleticism and the necessary foot speed to contain opposing point guards. Given the injury problems Steve Blake and Nash had last season, Farmar gives the squad a very good third point guard that they can rely on.
Depth was also a problem last season, and as a result, the Lakers signed multiple wing players like Young, Johnson and Henry. On top of that, with Jodie Meeks and Kobe, there are plenty of options that D'Antoni can experiment with at the wing positions.
Moreover, the Lakers upgraded an aging Antawn Jamison with former all-star Chris Kaman. While Howard is the better defensive player than Gasol, the Spaniard is a much better all around offensive player. He is a better fit in D'Antoni's offense because of his polished post game, and his ability to hit the outside jumper as a big man.
Although the Lakers are not set in a position to win the title this season, look for the storied franchise to improve from last year and make a run with the pieces that are intact.
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