NBA Preview 2013: Los Angeles Lakers

Here is the second of two NBA team previews, right here on the Sports Script. Earlier today I covered the Toronto Raptors chances this year, so if you missed that one, you can find it here. Onto the task at hand, and oh boy is this one going to be controversial. They are one of the most successful franchises in sports, and they are not used to being in this position. They lost a superstar last year, and have a returning one as well, it’s the Los Angeles Lakers.

Key Additions: Chris Kaman (Signed via Mavericks) Nick Young (Signed via 76ers) Wes Johnson (Signed via Suns)

Key Departures: Dwight Howard (Rockets) Metta World Peace (Knicks via Amnesty) Earl Clark (Cavaliers)

Projected Starters: PG Steve Nash, SG Kobe Bryant, SF Nick Young, PF Pau Gasol, C Chris Kaman

Alright, lets get the elephant out of the room. NO! Lakers fans you’re not getting LeBron James. You’re not getting Paul George. You’re not getting Carmelo Anthony. You’re not magically going to get any superstar, because you’re the Lakers. Now that that’s out of the way, the Lakers are in for a struggle this year. Kobe Bryant is coming back from a major achilles injury, and while his recovery has gone great, I wouldn’t expect him to start the season. Steve Nash is the oldest player in the NBA, Pau Gasol is another year older, and Lakers fans are fed up with him. They lost the best center in the NBA because in reality, Kobe Bryant drove him off, because not everyone is as intense as Kobe. Metta World Peace became Metta World Amnesty and went to the Knicks. Earl Clark signed for unrealistic money in Cleveland, he’s not that good. They signed Chris Kaman, Nick Young, and Wes Johnson to replace the production of Howard, and Bryant while injured. Yeah, it’s that ugly.

Looking at the starting lineup, how good is it? Well, five years ago is would’ve been a pretty darn good team! But now, Nash is 39, Gasol is 33 and on the decline, Kobe is 35 and coming back from an achilles tear. They won’t be the same players, it’s unrealistic to think that way. Nash will have his minutes reduced, and having Steve Blake as your backup isn’t very encouraging. Nick Young is  starting at small forward, which is going to be a great side story during the season. When does Kobe kill Nick Young? After he misses his 6th straight contested, off balance 20 footer? Or maybe when he’s misses another game winner, and taken the ball out of Kobe’s hands? It’s going to be fun, I’ll tell you that much. Pau Gasol has been treated like crap for most of his stay in Los Angeles. He’s too soft, he doesn’t fit LA basketball, non stop complaining over one of the last decades best power forwards. He will produce, but if things go south in LA like I thnk they will, I think Gasol will be getting dealt. Kaman is the plug they found for Dwight Howard after he left, and there is no chance in hell that he comes even close to producing at Howard’s level. Kobe is the final piece here, and things really depend on how, and when he comes back. He could come back fairly early, but lack some explosiveness, or wait a bit and make sure things are perfect before he attempts his come back. My guess is he comes back early because that’s the kind of player Kobe is, but in reality, why? The Lakers will struggle to just contend for a playoff spot, so maybe wait it out, and hope for reinforcements from this upcoming offseason.

The Lakers are a shell of the team they used to be earlier in this decade, and I don’t see them magically improving. Part of the problem is that Mike D’Antoni is still there, and part of the problem is their three best players are all over 33 and past their primes. There needs to be a youth infusion within this team, so they can start fresh, but also give Kobe a couple more years at championships, and that all-time scoring record. It remains to be seen what they’ll be able to get in terms of star players, if any at all, but something has to change next offseason, or the Lakers will continue into mediocrity.

Final Prediction: 38-44, 11th Western Conference

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