Who will be the King of LA in the 2012/13 NBA Season?
After a blockbuster free agency/trade period over the summer the fight to claim the City of Angels has heated up to boiling point.
In the spotlights of Hollywood who will reign supreme and take all the glory? Kobe or Paul? Howard or Griffin?
Los Angeles Lakers
2011-12 Record - 41-25 (3rd in West)
- Conference Semi-Final (Lost 4-1 to Oklahoma City)
- Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Antawn Jamison, Jodie Meeks, Earl Clark, Chris Duhon, Darius Johnson-Odom, Robert Sacre
- Andrew Bynum, Ramon Sessions, Josh McRoberts, Christian Eyenga
Likely Starting Five
- Steve Nash (PG), Kobe Bryant (SG), Metta World Peace (SF), Pau Gasol (PF), Dwight Howard (C)
I can imagine the smile on Kobe Bryant's face in London was not entirely because he was hanging out with Steph Rice.
The knowing look at his buddy, Pau Gasol, when the US played Spain and the realisation that they would both be playing with Dwight Howard AND Steve Nash.
Sometimes you do have to wonder if the Lakers are somehow given special treatment because they effectively got Dwight Howard and Steve Nash for some useless 1st round picks and Andrew Bynum whilst keeping Pau Gasol.
Even without getting Howard, obtaining Steve Nash was a left field move that threw everyone off kilter and immeadiately gave this team more hope than last season.
Nash brings a ton of experience and the ability to run the floor in a way a Lakers point guard hasn't done since Magic was around.
Then the move came that everyone was expecting but took way too long to happen.
In a de ja vu moment, Superman is coming to Hollywood to team up with the Black Mamba once more.
The Lakers no longer have to worry about maturity issues with Bynum and they also get a superstar successor for when Kobe retires (if Howard signs that extension).
Buying a $20mil Newport Beach mansion doesn't suggest a short term stay in the cards so the Lakers look set for a Dwight Howard future.
With a fantastic looking starting 5 the Lakers look like challenging for another title but there are still question marks surrounding this team.
What do you do with Metta World Peace on offense? Sit him next to Jack Nicholson? And will he buy into the program for a whole season instead of admitting he gets "bored" just playing defence?
Will the team stay healthy? They have numourous injury worries in Nash (back/old age), Howard (back) and Kobe (knee/wrist/fingers) so if things don't go right come playoffs then they might lose their title dream.
All of this brings about the question of their bench. Steve Blake is still unable to guard any of the young PGs in the league, they still lack 3 point shooting to space the floor and the team is on the old side.
New addition Antawn Jamison is an upgrade over Josh McRoberts but he requires volume shooting to get points on the board, something that will be in short supply with Kobe, Gasol and Howard in the team.
While there is no doubt that the Lakers improved quite a bit over the off-season it all comes down to how Mike Brown lets it all play out.
Will Nash be given control on offense and how will Kobe react to the super team? Will Gasol be used like he should be and more importantly will they remain healthy enough to make it to the Finals?
- The Lakers will have some issues early on when Howard comes back from his back surgery but once it all comes together they will be crazy dangerous. 62-20 and a Trip to the NBA Finals.
Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Los Angeles Clippers
2011-12 Record - 40-26 (5th in West)
- Conference Semi-Final (Lost 4-0 to San Antonio)
- Lamar Odom, Jamal Crawford, Grant Hill, Ryan Hollins, Willie Green, Ronnie Turiaf
- Randy Foye, Mo Williams, Nick Young, Ryan Gomes, Reggie Evans
Likely Starting Five
- Chris Paul (PG), Jamal Crawford (SG), Caron Butler (SF), Blake Griffin (PF), DeAndre Jordan (C)
After Neil Oshley decided that his work in LA was done the outlook for the Clippers was bleak.
A GM by committee approach was taken by the Clippers with Vinnie Del Negro teaming up with some assistant coaches and the results have been surprising good. Can they match big brother and take the next step towards a title?
With Lamar Kardashian coming back to Hollywood (and the team that first drafted him) comes the hope that he will rediscover the form that made him an integral part of the Lakers last two titles in 08-09 & 09-10.
It is a risk that he continues to play horribly like he did in Dallas but the Clippers need a big guy off the bench who can do more than rebound and take fouls.
Jamal Crawford will most likely start ahead of Chauncey Billups but after a less than impressive 11-12 season I am less optimistic about this move than any other.
The only saving grace is that Chris Paul will be deciding who gets the shots so hopefully he drills it into Crawford early that being a trigger happy gunner won't work with this team.
The other signings sure up a weak bench but they still need a better backup for DeAndre Jordan for when Del Negro decides he is only worthy of the first 10 mins of a game.
Grant Hill's decision to come to the Clippers was a head scratcher when his buddy went to the Lakers and his beloved medical staff are still in Phoenix. I guess the Clippers should see it as a sign that players actually want to play for them.
While all the new signings are great this team still hinges on their two superstars in Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. A knee injury to Griffin while in Team USA training camp was costly for two reasons.
One was the lost experience in playing with and against the world's best players and number two is another injury on his already surgically repaired knees. If Griffin comes back healthy then expect a much better shooter after he hired a new shooting coach over the break.
This can only mean better things for the Clippers and might give Jordan more room to find his game of offence.
Griffin's running partner and the most crucial player for the Clippers, Chris Paul, will be the man to take this team further this season.
He still remains the premier point guard in the league and posseses a unique ability to judge a situation like no other. If he produces another spectacular season and remains healthy then he could carry the Clippers all the way to the Western Conference Finals and beyond.
One big thing holding the Clippers back this season is still the man in charge, Vincent Del Negro. Unless he was gifted a Dummies Guide to NBA Coaching for Christmas in July then the Clippers will be limited compared to the Spurs, Lakers and Nuggets.
Again they are lucky to have Chris Paul to make up for Del Negro's shortcomings.
- As a Clippers fan it saddens me to say that I don't see them making the jump into the elite of the Western Conference but they will be poised to do some damage in the playoffs if things click. 56-26 and another Conference Semi Final loss.
Photo Credit: Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images
What are everyone's thoughts on the Lakers new super team. Will they go all the way this season and give Kobe his 6th ring?
Photo Credit: (top) Digital Vision/Getty Images
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