2012-13 Season Preview: Forwards

Coming off a 4-1 series loss to Oklahoma City in the 2012 Western Semifinals, it was quite an offseason for the Lakers front office.

In essence, GM Mitch Kupchak and VP Jim Buss acquired Steve Nash and Dwight Howard for Andrew Bynum and future draft picks. That's a two-time MVP and a three-time Defensive Player of the Year who have collectively enjoyed multiple seasons on the All-NBA First Team, the point guard coming in a surprising sign-and-trade deal and the center the best fit possible with the team's personnel.

L.A.'s brain trust added free agents Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks to boost the bench, all the while managing to keep Pau Gasol in Los Angeles, setting up what promises to be the most intriguing of NBA seasons. As always, the franchise mentality is simple: championship or bust.

Little was revealed in a winless preseason (0-8) in which Howard and Kobe Bryant shared the floor for only one contest, the veterans rested and Mike Brown's coaching staff began to install the Princeton offense under the tutelage of assistant Eddie Jordan.

A foot strain kept Bryant out of the final week of training camp and has him questionable for the season opener -- he is, after all, Kobe Bryant, so most expect him to play -- but Howard looked fantastic after back surgery last April and is more than ready to debut on Oct. 30 against Dallas.

To make sure you are ready, we took a look at each of the 15 players on the roster, combining key statistics from 2011-12 alongside the expertise of player development coach Phil Handy, who revealed what each player added to his game in the offseason.

FORWARDS

Metta World Peace

1,543 – Steals for World Peace in his career, which ranks 32nd all-time in NBA history, behind just four active players.

17 – Pounds World Peace lost during the offseason, a byproduct of his strict diet and workout habits in the summer.

Handy: In my workouts with Metta, we've stressed ball-handling, footwork and his midrange game, with some additional work on finishing at the rim. We work a lot on balance with the ball, because Metta tends to get off balance with his shots. When he has his balance, he's a really good shooter and effective offensive player. That's all about paying attention to detail, and avoiding getting into bad habits when working out. Sometimes Metta will shoot with his feet too close together, and if you don't have a good base going up into your shot, it's going to be off-balance.

Steve Nash

8 – Jamison’s rank among active players on the NBA’s all-time scoring list (19,246 points).

3 – Number of players in NBA history to average at least 19 points, 7 rebounds and one 3-pointer during their career, with Jamison as one, and the other two being LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki.

Handy: Antawn and I have worked the most with balance on jump shots, just like with Metta. He has a tendency to lean to his left when shooting, and we're trying to get him to be like a pole, straight up and down. He's got a really nice stroke, which is at its best when he's on balance. And that extends to the work he does in the post as well.

Chris Duhon

12 – Starts made last season by Ebanks, whether it was filling in for World Peace at small forward, or Bryant at shooting guard.

6 – 3-pointers Ebanks made during the preseason, after he hit just two during his first two years with the team and zero last season.

Handy: He's improved with his ballhandling and his ability to shoot from the perimeter, as we saw in the preseason. Last year, he didn't pay as close attention to the details of his shot, but he's improved in that aspect, shooting the same shot every time. The biggest area our coaches wanted more impact on was his D and rebounding, since he's so long and athletic.

Darius Morris

1,004 – Career number of points scored at Louisville in just three years (became 60th player in program history to reach at least 1,000).

3 – Teams Clark has played for in just five seasons in the NBA (Phoenix, Orlando, L.A.).

Handy: I spent a lot of time with him in the preseason working on form shooting and mechanics, as well as footwork and ball-handling. Earl made a point to me that he wanted to improve his low post game, playing with his back to the basket, so Darvin Ham and I spent some time with him on the block. A lot of people don't realize that Earl was a point guard coming out of high school who grew late, and he has a lot of wing skills that he needs to keep sharp while also improving his big man game. And he works hard, his motor has been really good.

kobe Bryant

50.1 – Gasol’s field goal percentage a year ago, making it the ninth straight time and 11th in his 12 seasons that he’s shot at least 50 percent.

5 – Triple-doubles recorded by Gasol in his career, the most recent coming against Golden State on April 18, 2012 (22 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists).

Handy: He's just so skilled … a great team player. He's terrific inside and out, and is going to make life for Dwight Howard really easy. I'd say Pau is one of the best, if not the best, passing big men in this league. He has a great hoops IQ and is good at most things, but he always works on his game. One area of focus this season is his pick and pop shooting game, since he knows he's going to get a lot of looks playing with Nash, and he's always working on the low block. We preach to him: get low and be quick. He'll play vertical at times, and we want him to sit down on the post to play off guys and hold his position. But no doubt he's the most skilled big I've ever worked with.

Jodie Meeks

57.8 – Career field-goal percentage for Hill during his three years at Arizona, which ranks fifth all-time in program history.

9 – Double-doubles Hill has recorded in his short NBA career, with seven of them coming last year.

Handy: We had a good summer with Jordan Hill; I spent about a week with him in South Carolina working on his conditioning, his shooting, his footwork. He's a very quick, athletic big, and he's another guy I've tag-teamed with Darvin Ham to work with down low. He can be vertical like Gasol is, and doesn't use a lot of balance and technique at times because he's always been quicker than other bigs. So we work on that.