Apr 19 2013 9:55AM

Playoff Contention: Los Angeles Lakers

In Playoff Contention, we spotlight the 16 playoff teams to see where they stand as they head into the playoffs.

Previous teams

EAST: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks

WEST: Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs

Sam Forencich/NBAE/Getty Images

Who are these Lakers?

You don't know. I don't know. Heck, it's April and they don't even know who they are.

Are they the team that could score on any defense no matter what offense they ran, no matter who they threw out there on the court, putting up 105.6 points per 100 possessions and ranking eighth in the NBA

Are they the team that that finished the season playing .700 ball, going 28-12 to roar into the playoffs on the final day of the season?

Or are they the squad that never quite learned how to play defense as a team--ranking 19th and allowing 103.6 points per 100 possessions--lacking in communication and cohesiveness, despite boasting several former All-Defense performers?

Or are they the team that has rallied in the absence of their leader Kobe Bryant, lost for the season last week to Achilles surgery? Are they the squad that held the mighty Spurs and Rockets offenses to 181 points and .472 true shooting percentage in their most recent two regulation games and an overtime?

Who knows who these Lakers truly are?

I'll tell you they aren't.

They are not Kobe Bryant's Lakers this postseason.

So whether he planned on going into Michael mode or Magic mode is really irrelevant at this point.

For the first time this season, we will see new Laker lineups.

Will Pau Gasol be directing the flow as a point big? Will he become Spain's Pau Gasol in an effort to lead the Lakers to postseason gold.

Will Dwight Howard be the monster finisher as a result of some newly-formed high-low combo ala the Gasol Brothers in the Olympics and World Games?

Will the two bigs suddenly anchor a defense that has been non-existent in Coach Mike D'Antoni's coaching career, as illustrated in the past two games?

Or will Steve Nash come back from injury and finally run Mike D's legendary "Seven Seconds Or Less" offense to perfection, now that he has finally got the ball in his hands?

Or will Nash still be in the Lakers' MASH unit, thus giving Steve Blake 15 more seconds of fame to show the world why the Lakers brought/bought him from Portland in the first place?

So many questions. I have no answers.

Who knows what is going to happen?

But I'll tell you one thing I know: Everybody is watching.

Try this on for size: the Lakers likely No. 1 playoff lineup--assuming Steve Nash is healthy--has only played together three minutes this season. Yes, you read that right: THREE MINUTES! Maybe because Kobe was seemingly playing 47 or 48 minutes every game, we never got to see the other five best Lakers play together. But there it is in black-and-white: Nash, Jodie Meeks, Metta World Peace, Gasol and Howard have played together for three minutes in the 2012-13 season, registering a +1.7 net rating, 101.7 offensive rating and 100.0 defensive rating in the smallest sample size in history--even smaller than those Costco snack samples they offer so generously at lunch time. Crazy, huh? The lineup that got L.A. into the playoffs the final two days at least had more time together. That lineup--subbing in Blake for the injured Nash--registered a +1.0 net rating in 54 minutes together. So in the intro when I say we have no idea how this new team will play together, I am speaking from a factual and statistical foundation. We shall see. And for those of you interested, the Lakers Fab 5 combo of Nash, Kobe, Metta, Pau and Dwight--first names because they're celebrities--those stars had a +4.7 net rating in 189 minutes together this season.

The 5,000 Minute Rule says most championship teams have five-plus players together for at least 5,000 minutes before they win a championship, and the Lakers only have three players in The 5G Club. And one of those players is out for the season (Kobe Bryant, who played 54,031 minutes with the Lakers). The others are Pau Gasol (16,880) and Metta World Peace (10,600).

Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol won two rings together with the Lakers 2009 and 2010 NBA championship teams. Don't forget, Metta World Peace also joined the dynamic duo as a starter on the latter 2010 NBA title squad.

Hollinger Playoff Odds say L.A. has a 2 percent chance to reach the 2013 NBA Finals and 0.6 percent shot to win the NBA championship; Basketball-Reference says the Lakers have a 0.5 percent shot to reach the 2013 NBA Finals and 0.1 percent chance to win the title.

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images
2012-13 LAKERS (.549)

C DWIGHT HOWARD: 76 games, 35.8 mpg, 17.1 ppg, 12.4 rpg, 19.5 PER, +3.4 Net, +4.5 On/Off

C Earl Clark: 59 games, 23.1 mpg, 7.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 12.5 PER, -2.6 Net, -7.0 On/Off

C Robert Sacre: 32 games, 6.3 mpg, 1.3 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 3.5 PER, -43.1 Net, -45.1 On/Off

PF PAU GASOL: 49 games, 33.8 mpg, 13.7 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 16.7 PER, +3.3 Net, +2.3 On/Off

PF Antawn Jamison: 76 games, 21.5 mpg, 9.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 15.4 PER, +2.3 Net, +0.6 On/Off

PF Jordan Hill (injured): 29 games, 15.8 mpg, 6.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 18.5 PER, -3.8 Net, -6.5 On/Off

SF METTA WORLD PEACE: 75 games, 33.7 mpg, 12.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 12.6 PER, +4.9 & +8.1

SF Devin Ebanks: 19 games, 10.4 mpg, 3.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 6.4 PER, -6.6 Net, -9.0 On/Off

SG JODIE MEEKS: 78 games, 21.3 mpg, 7.9 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 11.4 PER, +2.5 Net, +0.9 On/Off

SG Andrew Goudelock: 1 game, 6.0 mpg, 0.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg, -6.4 PER, -88.3 Net, -97.7 On/Off

SG Kobe Bryant (injured): 78 games, 38.6 mpg, 27.3 ppg, 6.0 apg, 23.0 PER, +2.7 & +3.3

PG STEVE NASH: 50 games, 32.5 mpg, 12.7 ppg, 6.7 apg, 16.0 PER, +1.4 Net, -1.0 On/Off

PG Steve Blake: 45 games, 26.1 mpg, 7.3 ppg, 3.8 apg, 11.8 PER, +2.1 Net, +0.2 On/Off

PG Chris Duhon: 46 games, 17.8 mpg, 2.9 ppg, 2.9 apg, 8.0 PER, +0.5 Net, -1.8 On/Off

PG Darius Morris: 48 games, 14.2 mpg, 4.0 ppg, 1.6 apg, 8.1 PER, +0.8 Net, -1.4 On/Off

2011-12 GONE LAKERS (.621)

C Andrew Bynum: 60 games, 35.2 mpg, 18.7 ppg, 11.8 rpg, 22.9 PER, +2.3 Net, +1.9 On/Off

PG Ramon Sessions: 64 games, 26.7 mpg, 11.3 ppg, 5.5 apg, 16.7 PER, +1.0 Net, -1.3 On/Off

SF Matt Barnes: 63 games, 22.9 mpg, 7.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 15.5 PER, +2.8 Net, +2.1 On/Off

PF Josh McRoberts: 50 games, 14.4 mpg, 2.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 10.9 PER, -6.1 Net, -7.2 On/Off

PF Troy Murphy: 59 games, 16.2 mpg, 3.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 9.0 PER, +0.1 Net, -2.4 On/Off

SF Christian Eyenga: 7 games, 14.6 mpg, 2.4 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 4.8 PER, +6.5 Net, +4.5 On/Off

* Lakers that did not play in 2012 NBA Playoffs; returning players in boldface

SOURCES: Team's Net Rating and Team's' On/Off Net Rating from NBA, Player Efficiency Rating from ESPN; other advanced statistics from Basketball-Reference.