Will New Batch of Lakers Role Players Have More Luck Than the 2012-13 Edition?

Kobe Bryant's injury aside, the Los Angeles Lakers may have something here.

If you were told the Lakers were better off now than they were this time last year, you wouldn't believe it, because it's not true.

Despite the disappointing 45-37 finish, Los Angeles hasn't put itself in position to contend for a championship by bidding goodbye to Dwight Howard, Earl Clark and Metta World Peace. In parting ways with some of their more prominent pieces, however, they've abated expectations and opened the door for a number of new acquisitions to make an impact.

One of Los Angeles' greatest flaws during the 2012-13 campaign was the absence of a definitive pecking order. Decimated by injuries, the Lakers were rarely seen at full strength, yet even when they were, they struggled to establish a concrete on-court hierarchy.

Dwight's role in the offense was unclear. He didn't fit Mike D'Antoni's description of a palatable center. Averse to running the pick-and-roll, not apt to passing out of double-teams, and unable to connect on shots that weren't taken at the rim, Howard was left battling against his natural tactical inclinations—as was D'Antoni.

Kobe himself waffled between primary scorer, central playmaker and resident chucker. On any given night, he was assuming a different role.

Impacted by the Black Mamba's teetering guise was Steve Nash, who, depending upon the night, was either tasked with distributing the ball as himself or expected to shoot and score like he was Kobe.

When healthy, Pau Gasol struggled to impersonate any number of identities, including that of a stretch forward, sixth man and high pick-and-roll catalyst.

Then there were Earl Clark and Metta World Peace. Desperate for a stretch forward to emerge, D'Antoni relied heavily on both.

Clark's per-game minutes nearly doubled from the season before, and Magic Mike expected Met...

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