When you put Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, and Metta World Peace on the same team, what do you get?
Statistically speaking, it amounts to three regular season MVP awards, four Defensive Player of the Year awards, and 33 All-Star Game appearances. If you add up their 2011-12 season averages, the projected Los Angeles Lakers starting lineup will combine for 86.1 points, 4.3 blocks, 5.0 steals, 23.1 assists, and 36.7 rebounds.
The numbers alone present a well-rounded team that expects to compete for another NBA title.
Then again, those are last season's statistics.
Age and chemistry will play deciding roles in the upcoming season for the Lakers. Four of the five L.A. starters are at least 32 or older. As evident by Miami Heat, it takes time for players to mesh with each other and the likelihood of winning a title after only one season might be slim. The Lakers do not have the same luxury of youth, fresh legs, and freakish athleticism that brought Miami a championship after two seasons with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.
Although one edge that the Lakers possess over the 2010-11 Heat season (first year of the "Big Three") is NBA championship experience. In the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 seasons, Bryant and Gasol hoisted the Larry O'Brien Trophy, while World Peace played a key defensive role in the 2010 NBA-title defense.
The projected 2012-13 Lakers starting lineup is surely more talented than the ones that earned a championship in 2009 and 2010, but the same cannot be said about the bench. Matt Barnes, a key member of the bench in 2011-2012 appears to not be in the Lakers' plans, and has off-the-court legal problems.
The current list of bench players consists of Antawn Jamison, Jordan Hill, Steve Blake, Jodie Meeks, Earl Clark, Chris Duhon, Andrew Goudelock, Darius Johnson-Odom, and Robert Sacre.
Not exactly a star-studded collection, but one player stands out.
An overlooked player on the squad is Jamison, and the versatile forward could serve as a key player in the upcoming season. The 14-year veteran averaged 17.2 points and 6.3 rebounds for a mediocre Cleveland Cavaliers squad in 2011-2012. Jamison is the only other player on the bench that truly poses a scoring threat and has earned the duties of providing support when Howard and Gasol rest.
Now at the ripe age of 36, Jamison will certainly see less time than the 33.1 minutes he averaged as a starter in Cleveland, and particularly due to the Lakers' superstar line-up. He is more than capable of becoming the Lakers' sixth man and realistically averaging about 20 minutes, 10 points, and five rebounds per game. If Jamison can put up those kinds of numbers for this upcoming season, it will relieve pressure off both the starters and the rest of the inexperienced bench.
L.A. has a great shot to contend for the title in 2012-2013, however they are by no means a flawless team.
With Bryant and Gasol returning from the Olympics and Howard coming off of back surgery, health and fatigue could possibly determine the success of their season