- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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The Lakers' hopes of winning their third title in five seasons depend on two new stars a dozen years apart. They need 38-year-old Steve Nash to create easy baskets and revamp their half-court offense, providing penetration and better three-point production to a team that suffered in both areas. (Los Angeles was 23rd in threes made and 26th in three-point shooting.) More important, Nash will have to find a way to integrate Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol while keeping everyone happy—and keeping himself healthy amid so many demands.
The 26-year-old Howard, who has won three Defensive Player of the Year awards, can electrify Staples Center with blocked shots, outlet passes to Nash and dunks in transition. After two lousy years in Orlando of mixed messages and ambivalent motivations, he can dramatically reinvent himself by contributing to a championship. But will Howard see the importance of that?
COACH: Mike Brown (2nd season with Lakers)
2011--12 RECORD: 41--25 (1st in Pacific)
OFFENSE: 97.3 ppg (15th)
DEFENSE: 95.9 ppg (15th)
PICK-AND-ROLL OFFENSE: 15.3 ppg (29th)
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE
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