Well, the wait is finally over, sort of. Even though it is not the official beginning to the regular season, tonight’s pre-season game is just as exciting for Laker fans to see their new-look Lakers in an actual game format. While we won’t be seeing Dwight Howard on the floor tonight, his recovery is going just as planned and the hope is to see him suit up for a couple of pre-season games later on. Tonight the Lakers take on the Golden State Warriors. Mark Jackson’s Warriors are full of youth and athleticism and are hoping to be playoff contenders this season. In fact, the Warriors have eight rookies on their current roster and three players that are in their sophomore year.
Reading the reports from training camp, everything seems to be going smoothly so far. Kobe Bryant has had some minor trouble with pain in his foot, but it doesn’t appear to be a serious problem as he was back on the court yesterday. Unlike last season, the Lakers are going to benefit from a full-length training camp and pre-season. Especially, with a much changed roster and a new offensive system, the pre-season will be a great time to begin to create chemistry.
Frontcourt: David Lee is the crucial piece of the Warriors’ frontcourt puzzle. Last season, Lee averaged 20.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game on 50.3 percent shooting. Andrew Bogut seems to be Mark Jackson’s number one option to make the starting lineup. Bogut will most likely be limited in the game due to his current recovery from last year’s injury.
Carl Landry will be making his first appearance as a Warrior tonight. Last season, Landry averaged 12.5 points and 5.2 rebounds per game on 50.3 percent shooting in New Orleans. Expect rookie Harrison Barnes to get a lot of minutes as he has high expectations for his freshman year.
Backcourt: Despite his young age, Stephen Curry is the leader of the backcourt, and along with David Lee, the leader of the Warriors. Curry has already shown what he is capable of on the court, but the key for him this season is to remain healthy. Brandon Rush is expected to get the starting nod at the three spot. Rush is a big threat for outside catch-and-shoot plays. Last season, Rush averaged 9.8 points and 3.9 boards per game on 50.1 percent field goal shooting.
Sophomore Klay Thompson continues to impress the Warriors and has earned the starting shooting guard spot. Thompson added 12.5 points per game to the Warriors’ offense last season. With a season under his belt now, Thompson’s role is expected to grow. Newly acquired Jarrett Jack adds depth to the Warriors’ roster. Jack will also bring experience and leadership to a youthful Golden State roster.
Keys to Victory:
Get Familiar With Each Other – There are a lot of new faces in purple and gold this year, with new personalities as well. As Kobe Bryant said, this team seems to mesh very well as their skills compliment each other. Chemistry has been a hot-topic in the last several weeks regarding the Lakers and I agree with those that say building chemistry is a necessity for getting back to the Finals. However, they have to start building chemistry somewhere and the pre-season is the perfect time to do this. Practice and camp is beneficial, but the pre-season offers an authentic game experience.
Acclimate Yourselves With the Offense – Besides having a drastically different roster, and a much improved one I might add, the Lakers will be running a different offense this season. Last season, their offense was chaotic and, quite frankly, unorganized as Mike Brown did not have a definitive offensive system setup during his freshman year as head coach in L.A.. This year, the Lakers will be running a bit of a hybrid offense comprised of the Princeton offense and the pick-and-roll game directed by Steve Nash. Since the pick-and-roll game has been absent from Lakerland for quite awhile and the players are still learning the Princeton offense in camp, these pre-season games will be critical to becoming fully acclimated with this hybrid offense in real game scenarios.
Golden State Warriors (0-0) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (0-0)
7:00 PM PST, October 7, 2012
Save Mart Arena, Fresno, CA
TV: TWC Sports Network
Warriors Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Stephen Curry
SG: Klay Thompson
SF: Brandon Rush
PF: David Lee
C: Andrew Bogut
Key Reserves: G Jarrett Jack, F Harrison Barnes, F Carl Landry