The wait is over.
THE WAIT IS OVER.
On Monday the Lakers will open training camp, hosting their annual media day. The media masses will come (though fewer than normal, I’m sure) to listen to the players speak on expectations, what they hope to get out of the year, and how they’ve put on 15 pounds of muscle (or, in some cases, lost 15 pounds). They’ll gather to hear new coach Byron Scott talk in reserved, yet optimistic tones, about where he thinks this team will go and how he believes they can surprise people by defying expectations. Everyone — especially Kobe — will talk about the work to be done and growing as a team and we will soak it all in because we have been waiting for what feels like an eternity for basketball to come back.
In reality, though, this is the least interesting part of what is beginning. Most every player has been through this multiple times and knows the drill. Nothing — or at least very little — of substance will be said. The more important thing is that the work will begin and this team will take its first steps towards becoming…whatever it is they will become. We all have our opinions on that, of course, but even what I (or you or anyone else) predicts ends up being 100% accurate, it will all have to play out on the floor with the players trying to follow what the coaches tell them to do.
Even in saying all that, the story lines heading into camp are many and real. So, let’s look at 10 questions for this team at the dawn of this new campaign:
1. What is a realistic expectation for Kobe Bryant? I’ve been dodging this question all summer. In reality I do not think anyone can really answer this question with any authority. Before blowing out his achilles, Kobe was having one of his best seasons ever and doing it in year number 17 of a hall of fame career. He was, essentially, defying his age, the miles on his legs, and all the critics who thought he should be slowing down. If he returns as even 85 – 90% of that player, he will have a great year.
It is impossible to ignore the injuries, however. Even with the advances of modern medicine and the relentless training he’s done to come back, no one beats father time. Can Kobe average over 24 points a game? He hasn’t been below that number (not counting last season where he played in only 6 games) since his fourth year in the league. Will he average less than 32 minutes a night? He hasn’t been below that number since his second year in the league.
So much of what Kobe does this year will depend on answers to questions we do not have yet. If his body holds up and his athleticism is anywhere close to where it was pre-injury, there is no reason to expect a bad season from him. Those are two big ifs, however. We’ll just have to wait and see. (You notice I still have not answered the question.)
2. Does Steve Nash have one last contributing season in him? It is to the point that Nash has become a punchline amongst a large group of Lakers fans. A lof of them just want to forget he’s even on the team and, seemingly, a vocal portion of that group actually want him to not be on the team. Much like Kobe, however, Nash has had a full summer to train and reports have him looking good:
Consistent word from last several weeks has been how good Nash has looked in scrimmages. Really does change dynamic of LAL if he's healthy.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) September 23, 2014
What this means when the grind of the season takes hold remains to be seen. But, and, again like Kobe, in Nash’s last full season he too was defying his age and playing extraordinarily well. That was multiple seasons ago and it’s more than fair — in fact, it’s natural — to be skeptical of what he can do this season after the two seasons he’s spent battling injuries in Los Angeles. I, for one, am rooting for him though. Nash has long been one of the players I enjoy watching most and I’d like few things more than for him to go out on his own terms, playing the game he loves, and contributing positively to the team I root for.
3. What role with Julius Randle earn? If you listened to Mitch Kupchak speak to the press on Friday, one theme that came out of the sit down was that Randle will have to earn his time on the floor. Byron Scott has already said that he envisions Carlos Boozer starting the season as the top power forward and I have little doubt the preseason will augment his thoughts on that stance. That leaves Randle as a reserve, but in a crowded front court that has other contributing players — including veterans Jordan Hill and Ed Davis. Most teams find it hard to play more than 4 big men consistent minutes and Byron Scott hasn’t always been someone who leans on rookies heavily if he doesn’t have to.
Of course, I see Randle as talented enough to play at least 20 minutes a night and I’d be surprised if he’s not a key rotation player by the time the season ends. But, coaches can be funny sometimes. The mistakes that rookies make often get them pulled back to the bench while the ones that veterans make are not looked at as harshly. Said another way, if Randle and Boozer both miss the same defensive rotation, I’ve a sneaky feeling Scott might see that as Randle “not knowing where he’s supposed to be” while Boozer mostly skates because he will know but just wasn’t able to get there. Time will tell if my assumptions turn out true, but I will say this now for the record: I believe developing Randle is one of the bigger goals to accomplish this season. If, for any reason, that development looks to take a back seat to pleasing or kowtowing to veterans, I will not be happy about it.
4. Can this bench replicate some of what last year’s bench did? As noted earlier this summer, the pencilled in starters are Nash, Kobe, Wes Johnson, Boozer, and Hill. That leaves a 2nd unit of Jeremy Lin, Xavier Henry, Nick Young, Randle, and Ed Davis. I don’t know about you, but that 2nd unit sounds like a fun group who will be able to put some points up on the board. One of the few ways last year’s team was successful was by having a reserve group who pushed the pace and took other team’s reserves by surprise by playing fast and loose and getting buckets in bunches. With Young, Lin, and Randle there is nice potential for this year’s bench to do similar things.
5. How long before I get the hashtag #FreeJordanClarkson to trend on twitter? One week? Two?
Let’s just say I’m going to want to see this kid play in actual games. #FreeJordanClarkson
6. Can Jeremy Lin become a part of the future? I probably have a higher opinion of Lin than a lot of other observers. I like his size, think he’s skilled, and think his reputation has been unnecessarily tarnished simply because, for a variety of reasons, Patrick Beverly was a better guard to pair with James Harden in the Rockets’ starting lineup. While Lin can definitely be viewed through the prism of being an expiring contract (and potential trade chip at the deadline), he can also be viewed as a quality, starting caliber point guard who is in his prime years while boasting a skill set needed in today’s NBA. He’s an attack style guard who can play on or off the ball, can shoot from range and get to the rim to finish. He’s not a perfect player, but he’ll be a contributor on someone’s team next year. I’d have to imagine if he plays well enough, that team just might be the Lakers.
7. Can the Lakers avoid being a bottom tiered defensive team? All the signs point clearly to “no”. They lack rim protection and the horses on the wing to keep players out of the paint consistently. If Kobe, Nash, and Boozer do see consistent minutes this year — especially together — they will surely struggle defensively. Byron Scott will preach defense and will work his guys hard. He might even pull the young players (sorry Randle) for making mistakes to set an example for the other guys. But, in reality, this team will need to show a super cohesion on that side of the ball to even be league average on defense. Maybe I’ll be wrong and they will come together wonderfully, but I don’t see it.
8. Can Nick Young make a run at 6th man of the year? Normally the year end awards go to players on winning teams. If the Lakers struggle the way that most analysts think they will, I doubt Young comes close to sniffing this award. That said, strange things happen in this league and Young has a few things going for him. First is that he can actually score the ball. This matters — just ask Jamal Crawford. Second, Young is a Laker. Playing in Los Angeles will give Young games on national TV and consistent exposure. Third, Young is quickly evolving into one of those guys that people love to root for. He’s always smiling and having a good time on the court and if his play remains at the level it was at last year, he’ll get some support. Again, the Lakers will need to win games, but if that happens (a big if) it will be a story to watch for.
9. Will the front office use any of their “flexibility” during this season? Here’s Mitch Kupchak from Friday’s presser:
I think our approach is going to be similar this season and this offseason as it was this past season. There’s only three ways to improve your team: You can make a trade; you can use your room to sign a free agent; or you can draft a player if you have a draft pick.
We did acquire a draft pick in the offseason. In fact, we acquired two. A second round pick, but we (also) got the first-round pick from Houston. So we have a pick this offseason, which is a valuable asset. We have flexibility with our (salary) cap. So we could look to improve the team during the offseason or during the season. So we feel that we have the flexibility and the assets necessary to approach this season as we did last season.
The Lakers are in position to make in-season moves this year should the opportunity arise. They have a draft pick, expiring contracts, and enough projected salary cap space next summer to make any type of deal they want should a trade they like present itself. In the past, Mitch has mostly made in-season trades to improve the current roster for the purpose of making a deeper playoff run. This year, though, he could be in a position to strengthen next year’s team by making this year’s team worse. It will be interesting to see if this is something the front office explores this year even though it is not something they have traditionally done.
10. How many games will the Lakers win? I’m not ready to answer this question yet (I do have a number in my head), but you can give me your thoughts in the comments.
I am personally more interested in this team than last year’s, because I want to see what Randle and Kobe can do; I have always kind of liked Ed Davis, and I am looking forward to rooting for Lin. I am a huge Pau fan, but I didn’t really enjoy watching him the last two years because it seemed like he belonged somewhere else. So I am glad that he is on a contender and not still slogging it out here.
But more interesting or not, I think the Lakers’ performance range is just like last year’s: if things break right, they can win 40-45 games. That would mean 4-5 of these things happen.
1. Kobe plays well and stays on the floor for 70-75 games, adding CPoTY to his trophy case.
2. The vocal FBG Scouting Team is right and Randle is a RoTY candidate, while Clarkson is surprisingly good for a second rounder.
3. Scott gets the team to play enough defense so that they are not in the bottom 5 in the league, and shows he has grown as a coach since Cleveland.
4. Boozer is not a negative.
5. Scott plays Davis enough that he provides some real help to the interior D.
6. Nash stays on the floor enough to help the offense.
7. Henry, Hill, Lin, Kelly, and Johnson all stay on the floor and play near the top of their ranges.
And, if things break wrong, the Lakers will be one of the worst teams in the league, winning 20-25 games. Last year, more broke wrong than right, and the Lakers won 27 games.
Finally, as noted above, the Lakers could make a mid-season move, with Lin, Hill, Davis, Johnson, Henry and conceivably even Nash as trade bait.
Well well well, l will want to compare these team with the spur. Let do these, p g Tony Nash sg green kobe so Leonard Johnson p Duncan boozer ct. The Brazilian guy hills the lakers have better bench than spur. The lakers are a championship team. I will put my money with any one. Lakers will win 55 or 56 game, watch what will happen these season. Some people compare kobe and James h .it is laughable for espn to bring kobe down like that .Espn should tell the world which sg in nba that has done what kobe has done.five championship sell more shoes, sell more tickets and more and more.
Renato Afonso says
1 – I expect Kobe to shake off some rust in the first 5 or 6 games and an increasing workload as the season moves toward its end and the Lakers struggle for the 8th seed. 34mpg, 22ppg, 5ast, 3reb, 1 stl, 4to is what I expect… It’s still his team.
2 – No, he doesn’t. Nerve injuries are unpredictable and it will be a bother. He can play 10 minutes and be in pain or he can play 50 games in a row without feeling any pain, but it will bother him again, for sure.
3 – If the Lakers are not fighting for a playoff spot by season’s end, I do expect him to play 20 minutes a night. Otherwise, more than 12 is asking too much…
4 – The bench can be as successful as last season. No reason to think otherwise even if they don’t have the 3 point depth I wish they had.
5 – Two weeks. Once Nash gets injured again he may see some actual play time behind Lin.
6 – Not sure. He became overrated really fast due to his chinese heritage and now he’s underrated due to a bad situation in Houston. He’s a good player with flaws that’s neither a superstar nor a scrub. He may have a future in LA, depending on his next contract…
7 – Nightmares. Our starting lineup is giving me nightmares defensively and it’s not because we lack a shotblocker. Nash, Kobe and Boozer sometimes lose sight of their man when he drifts to the weakside and can’t stay in front of an average guard/forward. I’m sure Scott will have some nightmares as well.
8 – Not if the Lakers don’t make the playoffs.
9 – I really have no idea. Depends on what other teams need or want, doesn’t it?
10 – 42 wins should be in reach if injuries don’t plague our roster. Anything more than that would really surprise me. +.500 record against the East and the Northwest and -.500 against the other two divisions…
Besides the points you written about Darius, I looking forward to seeing who runs the offense. Will Kobe allow Nash/Lin to actually run an offense which relies on a more traditional point guard? Will Scott be able to enforce this…or at the very least get Kobe to buy in to it…especially if the team is not having success.
@ dodo64, if you truly believe your statement: “The lakers are a championship team. I will put my money with any one. Lakers will win 55 or 56 game, watch what will happen these season.” You can get great odds in Vegas. If you can lay a G or 2, and the Lakers do what you say they will, not only will you have a fantastic return, you’ll be the man on FB&G.
I will like everyone to mark my word about the lakers. Some teams were one time wonder. People talk about kobe age or Nash how about Tim Duncan.
The dwight Howard/Achilles year was Kobe’s 17th season, not his his 16th.
Darius Soriano says
Good catch, Ryan. Thanks. I have fixed it.
Kelly our only stretch 4 might surprise if he`s gotten stronger,better conditioned.We will never be a good defense team,but it might be good enough if combined with acceptable rebouning. Pre-season will allow a better feel for the whole Kobe-Nash question,and also how a better conditioned,stronger,quicker Randle will fit in. Turn Clarkson loose in pre-season,see his potential and how far he still has to go. I`m waiting for the start of of the reg season before making a guess on no.of wins.
If Kobe, Nash, and Boozer stay healthy the Lakers will be the worst defensive team in the league and win around 25 games.
@ Aaron, “If Kobe, Nash, and Boozer stay healthy the Lakers will be the worst defensive team in the league and win around 25 games.”
Unfortunately I have a similar fear, especially in the backcourt. Have to figure some combination of Kobe/Lin/Swaggy/Nash will be on the court most of the time…because let’s face it…this group is the strength of the Lakers.
Baylor Fan says
Boozer’s offense will have a resurgence with Kobe and Nash feeding him the ball in the lane like Kobe used to do with Gasol. Randle and Clarkson will start in the D-League so they can get consistent playing time. Randle needs to show that he is over his foot problem and Clarkson should learn to play point where it will not cost the Lakers games. Lin will come off the bench and fill in the role played by Farmar last year. This will give him a chance to dominate the ball unlike last year in Houston. On defense, the Lakers will have to protect the paint since protecting the rim will be a challenge. This will be possible due to a coaching staff dedicated to playing team defense.
bryan S. says
Kobe stays mostly healthy and performs well, amazing all with his Zen-like inner peace.
Nash is in and out of the lineup, announces retirement during the season.
Boozer plays better than expected, is a plus in the locker room.
Wesley Johnson will be better than last season, playing his natural position.
Jordan Hill will play hard and well but will break down giving way to Ed Davis.
Ryan Kelly will continue his upward trajectory and prove to be a valuable rotation player.
Julius Randle will earn his minutes, and be a revelation by season’s end.
Jordan Clarkson will play and prove himself a steal.
Jeremy Lin will be one of the best players on this team.
Byron will surprise with his deft handling of personnel, playing deep to keep everyone fresh and the defense active.
Eight spot is ours and we upset the Spurs behind a vintage Bean and the two rookies.
You raise excellent questions. Below are a few others to be considered.
1) How will Jordan Hill respond now that he is being targeted as a starter for the first time in his career? Will he manage to stay relatively healthy? Will he average a double-double as some have predicted (if he plays enough minutes)? Will he rise to the occasion now that he is no longer being shackled by Mike D’Antoni?
2) Who will emerge from the group at the SF position to solidfy that very important spot, both defensively and offensively? Wes Johnson? Xavier Henry? Nick Young (coming off the bench)? When Henry comes back after recovering from knee surgery, will he continue his improved play from last year when he was such an important player off the bench?
3) Will the Lakers be able to put together some semblance of Team Defense without the presence of any lockdown defenders?
4) Will anyone whom we’re not exactly counting on surprise us in a big way? Ed Davis? Wayne Ellington? Jordan Clarkson? Ryan Kelly?
5) How will Byron Scott use this team’s depth? The rotation could easily go 10-, even 11-deep, which is almost unheard of. If that’s the case, then that means that no one will play over 32 minutes. And if no one plays over 32 minutes, they should be able to play all out on both defense and offense. If that’s the case, will the Lakers surprise us with their defensive effort and intensity? Will the Lakers be the deepest team in the league?
Bud Herning says
All of these so called,’ Experts’, have no idea, how much ,’heart’, and,’ drive’, that ,’Kobe’, and
‘Nash’, have, that, will give each of them, one more great season, together, even with their past
health issues! I say the Lakers will win at least ,’50+’,games and knock off the ,’Spurs’, in the
play offs !!!
pat oslon says
Hopefully Randle & Clarkson can earn extended minutes on the court. Their development is crucial to our rebuilding efforts.
Every team goes into the season with questions. I think the magnitude of the uncertainties that the Lakers face are significantly more dramatic than many of the teams in the West. So its not surprising to see the Lakers projected to compete for the 8th spot or finish out of the running. Other teams just don’t have the issues we do.
For me everything comes down to Kobe’s health. If he’s healthy and contributes at 80% of what he was two years ago then the Lakers will be in the mix for the 8th seed. Sorry folks, that is the absolute upper end of my projections. If Kobe misses significant time because of injury then I envision the team winning between 25 – 30 games, which is my floor.
Now, I truly think that this year’s team is better than last years. Better players, better coach and better attitude. So even without Kobe I would expect the team to have a better record than last season. However, I think that if Kobe goes down early the FO will look to acquire future assets by trading players with value at trade deadline. So, without Kobe I might think we are a 33 win team, but if the FO makes trades geared for the future we may only have enough talent left to win 25.
The reality is that once Kobe signed the huge extension the future of the team was put on hold until the deal was over. If Kobe goes down this year that future will only be a year away and I think the FO will begin to embrace that fact.
The Lakers will be fun to watch. Barring injury Bryant will once again excel to greatness not in spite of the nay-Sayers but because of them. Look for less minutes but a more efficient Kobe. And if Nash Boozer and Kobe all have good years, Teams will find themselves trying to match up with the Lakers offensively. Ed Davis & J Hill will prove to be a great 2 headed beast at the Center position. Leaving room and time for Randle and Kelly to continue grow, improve and contribute n ways that will keep them in rotation but stay fresh as well. The bench will be much improved Young, Lin, Clarkston and Henry will be strong with any consistency and effort. Under Coach Scott Wes Johnson may just find his defense is closer to lock down than people realize Look for Lakers to be much improved and Renewed in 2014-2015. 50+ wins this season. Coach Scott has his work cut out for him but is sure to be up to the challenge.3 time NBA Champion as a player, and he took 2 under dogs to the finals with much less than he has with this current roster. Despite what was available the front office put a good product on the floor. The team has a few good things going for them, just the right mix of Vets and youth in the right places. They have guys not Named Kobe or Nash, who have the experience and talent and heart to prove they are Still relevant if not stars in this league ( Lin, Boozer, Davis and Young). The Lakers may very well prove to be dangerous coming out of the pacific division and the Western Conference.
I’m always interested in the kids. So to me, the best part of the upcoming season will be how Randle, Clarkson and Davis develop. It would be so nice to identify two of the three of them as starters moving forward.
In the near future the Lakers will need to make major decisions on trades, draft selections and FAs. Knowing what you have is the key factor in knowing what you need.
If the Lakers win 55 games this season, Byron Scott should be the COTY for the next 5 years and have a statue built outside Staples. 1. This is the big “if” while i have faith in Kobe and his unrivaled will and desire to prove the naysayers wrong, he is an unknown factor, but he is a wise basketball player and i dont doubt he will try to put the team on his back. I dont know about challenging for scoring titles anymore but he is more than just a scoring machine if he wants to. Would not put past him a return to the 24-25ppg range with 6 aspg. That alone is a dramatic improvement from last season. 2. If Steve Nash is healthy he can do wonders with that passing, i would not bet the house on it. He can help if he can stay on the floor but the odds of a sucessful comeback are a lot lower than Kobe’s. 3. Randle should play at least 20 minutes per game and i would not be surprised if he takes Boozer’s job by Midseason. I think he is that good, but he needs to come off the bench at the beggining while he get used to NBA play. I dont think he is ready yet. 4. Yes, its more or less the same bench with some improvement, it’s up to Coach to use them wisely. 5. I like Clarksons as much as any Lakers fan and im excited but let’s slowdown for a while. Let’s see the kid play actual games. Looks like a steal though. 6. Who knows? I settle for a solid season and take it from there in the offseason. Should be the starter. 7. Can’t be as bad as last season,no way, plus we have a coach that cares about D. I dont think we be good but not bottom 5. 8. If the Lakers somehow made the playoffs he has a shot, if they dont forget about it. 9. No clue, a lot can change from here to the trade deadline. I expect them to stay put unless something game changing comes along at the trade deadline. Would not hold my breath. The FO has done a good job achieving this flexibility and need to cash in when the timing is right. When that be? I dont know. 10. If healthy 40-45 wins with a ceiling of 50 wins if a perfect storm of good things happen (Kobe returns to forms, Nash stays healthy and produce, Julius and Clarkson both play at ROTY level) a very tall order. If the injury bug bit us again 27-31 wins, this team will either be reasonably good or really bad. I will miss the great majority of the season but i find a way to keep up with the season. Go Lakers!!!!!!
T. Rogers says
“I’m always interested in the kids. So to me, the best part of the upcoming season will be how Randle, Clarkson and Davis develop. It would be so nice to identify two of the three of them as starters moving forward.”
That is my approach to this season. I don’t expect much for the here and now. SEVERAL things would have to break right for the Lakers to make the playoffs. I’m just counting on that. However, I’m thinking about two to three years down the line. Like you, I’m watching the pups. If Randle and Clarkson can show they are on their way to being starters in this league I will consider the season a success.
I have nothing but respect for the greatness of Kobe and Nash. Even Boozer has been productive over the years. But those guys have done what they are going to do. Whenever this team becomes great again those guys won’t be part of it. I’m looking for something from this year’s team to show me the future will indeed be bright.
lil pau says
I must say I’m amazed at how little Pau’s departure has figured in Darius’ post and the comments thus far. I’m not sure we’ve made an off-season pickup better than Meeks, let alone Gasol. I really hope Randle comes along quickly and that we see a resurrected Kobe and Nash, but I struggle to see how this team is ‘better’ than last year’s team, unless we’re comparing a team with Kobe to a team without Kobe in which case the point seems too trite to mention.
That doesn’t mean I don’t like what the FO has done, merely that I see the FO’s offseason in the context of a medium-term rebuild (and a difficult one at that, one that has to make sense around an aging Kobe). I’m excited about this season– I feel there are more interesting storylines than last year, but I really struggle to convince myself that we’ll be better than, say NO or Dallas (or maybe even Phoenix), teams who might credibly be our competion for the 8 seed. That said, I have my tix for opening night and will undoubtedly walk out of Staples as hoarse as always.
Gmusicg: “The Lakers will be fun to watch. ” This was the pre and early season mantra last year. Mike D’Antoni is no longer the coach so we need a new catch phrase : )
T Rogers: “Whenever this team becomes great again those guys won’t be part of it.” OK – I agree with the core of what you are saying. For the long term, we want to see some good things from Randle, we want to see Scott establish himself, and you left out the most important item: We need to get through the year without the FO doing anything that postpones our future. On the pessimistic side however, your statement could easily apply to the entire roster and perhaps all personnel, coaches and FO. Go back and look at our rosters leading up to championships. We always already had one and in some cases 2 or more superstars for 2-3 years, then we added another superstar and won. This situation? It is like the 73-74 years, where Wilt, West, and Gail were on their way out. Or the Magic retirement/comeback of the early 90’s.
KB: Rather than counting down to his retirement, let’s count up to his milestones. 10 years from now, what will be remembered from this year. The 2006 Season is remembered for 81 points.
Mike K. says
You build a team in stages. Last year was the end of the old guard. (no pun) Now we have a crop of youth that is virtually certain to yield at least 3 quality future players. My money is on Lin, Randle and Ed Davis, mostly because Lin and Davis are already quality players who have been mostly sabotaged by not getting enough playing time due to a redundancy of skill sets (Harden is the better pick and roll guard, and Randolph-Gasol were better post players). In fact, Lin is due for a breakout year, and it’s reasonable to see him revert to a 17-7-5 stat line, with above average shooting percentages. His only achilles heel is turnovers. Davis is going to be a huge defensive presence and rebounder. Given Hill’s 9 million dollar second year, it’s likely the team sees Davis as their future PF going forward. And Randle ? He’s able to play the 3 on offense. I bet we’ll see a lot of it due to team needs. Also, wouldn’t be surprised if Clarkson shows promise for future seasons, and Ryan Kelly is a step away from being a decent stretch 4… is it all going to come together ? Nope. But if the team comes out of next summer with a revitalized Lin and Davis, and off a promising rookie season from Randle, then they are primed to add a SG or C to entrench themselves as one of the leagues up and coming young teams. This is a key year for the Lakers in order to build the existing substructure needed to intelligently add a young star.
Craig W. says
Pau was not properly used in our system, but he also declined such that he would hurt us on defense this year and he would hamper the development of both Randle and Davis. He should see his career get a boost because of being in Chicago, but he no longer belonged here. I think this is the view of a lot of fans here.
Craig W. says
now that is ridiculous!
Chris J says
“The dwight Howard/Achilles year”
How sad that the lasting memory of that season was watching Kobe show how tough-minded he is after a potentially career-ending season. I wish I could scrub that entire season from my memory, aside from that moment of Kobe greatness — and even that was depressing given what made it memorable before and after.
There is nothing ridiculous about opinions, as fans we are entitled to wish for some changes with the New Lakers. There is a reason to be optimistic after the dark seasons of Brownie and Dantoni, it is now Scotty’s turn to turn-on the lights of wisdom and common sense basketball.
Let us set some benchmarks: Lakers should play 48 minutes of defense and team rebounds; don’t let opponents score more than 90 points, therefore break it down into quarters as no more than 24 per quarter; I believe Coach will play at least 10 players per game, superstars should score at least more than 15 points – Kobe and Nash and the other 8 players should aim @ 10 pts each combination of points and assists with total score 70 points distributed among 8 players. That is the objective in numbers, the tactics would follow on how to achieve those objectives.
Having said that, it would be impossible for a team to have a perfect winning slate, therefore minimize losses by not contributing to it in form of turnovers, or lazy dozy sleep walking or jacking up shots with low accuracy. Every player should focus on his homework, eventually they will overcome handicaps against superior All Stars. Lastly, “passion to win” conquers all….remember the Alamo, the 300 Spartans, Custer Cavalry last stand……, they were defeated and overwhelmed but few men died fighting against insurmountable force. If Lakers continue persisting, there is no force that is impossible to defeat, the odds of winning will turn the tide of future battles. Stay focus and do your homework.
Craig W. says
Oldtimer, I like your stuff. I’m not sure I would mention Custer’s Cavalry – poor management, poor leadership and all that.
I do like staying focused on winning each quarter and letting the game take care of itself, so as to maximize the performance and minimize the losses. This is where our second unit could help us stay in the game each quarter.
Craig W. says
Oh good grief!
Darius, me and my fellow FB&G posters are all over the place with how well the Lakers and many of their players, particularly Kobe, Nash, Boozer, Randle, & Clarkson will perform this season. Obviously there is good reason, currently so many unknowns coming on the heels of one of the worst seasons in franchise history.
How do you feel about a FB&G contest this season? 10 or 20 questions based on expectations of the team & some of their players. Multiple choice, fill ins, or a mixture. I think it would be a lot of fun. Not talking about cash prizes, recognition and bragging rights w/ a nice little “2014-15 FB&G Smart Guy” designation would be great reward for the winner.
All entries would have to be in before the 1st game of the season. What do you think D? Doable idea?
OK. Let me be the first to say it; The Lakers will win 82 games this year!
And, anyone who wants to bet against them making the playoffs will lose money, (and should be ashamed of themselves for betting against their team).
GOOOOooooOOOOOO LAKERS !!!!
How will the Lakers do this year? Optimistic KenOak wants to believe that they can win 50 games if everything breaks right for them. Realistic KenOak thinks the number is somewhere around 40-45 games if everything breaks right…and then there’s the pessimistic KenOak who thinks this team will be a disaster with Nash and Boozer in the starting line-up and will only win about 30-35 games. Ugh.
1. Kobe will average about 18/5/5 and play around 65-70 games. A far cry from the old Kobe, but still better than most HOF 2 guards.
2. Steve Nash. /Sigh I thought he was done last year, so he has to be done this year right? I predict another injury-filled season.
3. Randle should be getting serious minutes if he is supposed to be the future. Hopefully, Boozer won’t hamper his learning opportunities.
4. I expect that the bench will be a better looking squad this year than they were last year. They will be an exciting group to watch!
5. 1 week. Nash will have everyone pining for the rookie within the first week.
6. Yes. I like Lin’s game. Kind of agree with everyone here who believe that he was overrated, but now he’s underrated because he played with Harden.
7. Boozer, Nash, and old Kobe. Yeah, that’s scary.
8. Yes. Nick Young is poised to have another really good year. I don’t *really love his game, but when you add everything up that makes him who he is…I like him as a player and hope he remains a Laker. My hope is that he takes the next step in the maturation process and becomes a better defender and passer.
9. God, I hope so! What good is being flexible if you don’t use that flexibility?
10. 45 games. 45 games misses the playoffs and gets a middling draft pick. However, it gets Lakers fans excited again.
T. Rogers says
I love your posts, man. I love your enthusiasm and passion. I don’t consider my position to be pessimistic at all. All great incarnations of teams have a beginning and an end. I’m hoping this is the beginning of a new era. Randle and Clarkson could become real contributors. Even if they don’t become bona fide stars its okay. If they could just become very high quality starters its a major step in the right direction. Teams still need high quality starters to go next to stars. Either way they are young and, hopefully, have high ceilings. That is where my optimism is.
lil pau says
Even if they don’t become bona fide stars its okay. If they could just become very high quality starters its a major step in the right direction. Teams still need high quality starters to go next to stars
Fully agree, but I’d make a very small refinement: Teams need high quality starters ON ROOKIE CONTRACTS to go next to stars.
The best case scenario for the Lakers as I see it is that Kobe plays well as they continue to develop the players who will fit around their next superstar. Whether they get that player midseason, in the offseason (cough: Marc Gasol), or in the following offseason (triple cough: KD), it would be great if we see the genesis of our future role-player cohesion this year. If Lin is a part of that future, so much the better; but if his contribution is just a year of fun and a first-round pick, I’d be okay with that as well.
bryan S. says
Great thoughts guys. I am getting so geeked up for Laker basketball (plus I just drank my second cappuccino) that I can’t stand it.
I watched Byron’s interview on TWC last night and he said he thought that by 10-15 games in he’d have a pretty good idea of what the team could do. That sounded about right, coupled with what the squad shows in training camp. Best thing for me was listening to Kobe who was asked if he was excited about camp starting and responded by saying no, and that what he felt instead was very calm. That was awesome. I think I need to go meditate . . . .
lil pau says
I assume everyone’s seen this, but just in case:
awesome. sort of ridiculous, perhaps, but awesome.
Robert, I like discussions on Kobe’s past, present, and future.
Lil-Pau, that’s why we love the Black Mamba!
It’s that time…go Lakers
“…and then there’s the pessimistic KenOak who thinks this team will be a disaster with Nash and Boozer in the starting line-up and will only win about 30-35 games. Ugh.”
Don’t worry, I doubt Nash will even play 30 games, let alone contribute to 50 losses or more.
In other words, the Lakers may well win only 30-35 games, or even less, but the good news is, it won’t be because Nash is getting too much playing time.
Robert, would you please provide a preview of upcoming Kobe milestones? Passing Jordan in total points looms large, of course …
i’m going to enjoy the team until the wheels come off. then, i’ll walk home. i think the car will get me there and back somehow.
George: For me everything comes down to Kobe’s health. If he’s healthy and contributes at 80% of what he was two years ago then the Lakers will be in the mix for the 8th seed. Sorry folks, that is the absolute upper end of my projections. If Kobe misses significant time because of injury then I envision the team winning between 25 – 30 games, which is my floor.
KenOak: How will the Lakers do this year? Optimistic KenOak wants to believe that they can win 50 games if everything breaks right for them. Realistic KenOak thinks the number is somewhere around 40-45 games if everything breaks right…and then there’s the pessimistic KenOak who thinks this team will be a disaster with Nash and Boozer in the starting line-up and will only win about 30-35 games.
Sorry, George and KenOak, your upper end projections are too optimistic. 50 wins will likely get you the 8th seed in the West, that is true, but I don’t think the Lakers have the talent to finish that high. I believe the Lakers have the least talent in the West. However, I do think the Lakers will finish higher than Minnesota because they are so young and they haven’t played together yet. The other candidates to finish poorly are Sacramento and Utah and they have better players than the Lakers.
I am a Lakers fan but I’m also a realist. The margin for error in this league is very small. I understand that fans think the sum of the parts is greater than it actually is. Note, I do think the Lakers will get out of the gate well and have a decent record through December. However, then the workload and injuries will then begin to wear on them.
Everyone knows how Kobe and Nash’s injuries may impact their playing time but think about how tenuous our front court is:
– Boozer averaged only 24 minutes a game over the last 40 games last year
– Hill has never played more than 20 minutes a game before
– Davis: has averaged less than 20 minutes for the last two years
– Kelly: averaged 22 minutes over 59 games in his rookie season
– Sacre: 17 minutes over 65 games last season
– Randle: He’s a stud but he’s still a rookie
Our entire front court is based on one fading star that is relegated to part time duty, an un-proven rookie and a bunch of role players. Now, there may be some diamonds here but they take time to develop and I do not think we’ll see them emerge this year.
The Lakers are destined to have problems rebounding and defending the interior. If you add a Kobe injury to the mix then the season’s over.
The narrative started last season based on a Laker squad that was dissimated by injuries. And has continued until today. That narrative is the West is so strong the Lakers can’t or won’t compete. Every single player on the today’s squad is better than anything we had in 2005-2006. I don’t know what the squad will or will not do. Time will tell. I do know if all things are equal the Lakers have as much talent as Portland, Golden State and Houston. And a better coach then all 3 teams. I will not be surprised if they compete because they have enough talent to do so. A healthy squad will compete. Health is the unknown variable not talent.
That 2005/06 team had Kobe Bryant is his prime and Phil Jackson on the sidelines.
Given how good the west is, this team will have a chance at 41 wins if they’re lucky and stay injury free. As much as I want to see Nash and Kobe stay healthy and further cement their careers as all time greats – no matter how good or healthy they are, there still won’t be enough defense from this team to consistently flirt w finishing as a plus .500 team at the end of the year. There’s no rim protection, a lack of dominant rebounders on the defensive end, and no good individual defenders.
There are guys who will play hard and will hustle and try to play smart but its just not going to be enough.
That being said, this team will compete and stay in a lot of games till late if healthy – and they might even run up some decent wins their first time thru the league in the first 3’rd of the season – but after that, even if healthy we’ll see a lot of close games that slip away in the last 2-3 mins to better quality teams. Not as many blowouts as last year, but there won’t be anywhere near as many wins as some on this board are predicting
P. Ami says
The Dwight year was excruciating in many ways but… I think the game Kobe was injured is one of the greatest games I’ve ever watched, and we’ve all seen some incredible games. Watching Kobe work his a$$ off, infecting the team with his will, attacking, attacking, attacking until that moment when he went down; it snuck through the cables and screen that connected me to that floor and drew my total focus. I remember the darkness of the room I stood in (yes I was standing). I remember contorting my body with every drive to the basket and then holding a scoliosis pose, frozen with the same realization that Kobe had worked through with his skinny a$$ on the ground and his foot in his hand. He was done… Yes, Kobe had to surrender to the realities of a severed Achilles but not unconditionally. The man stood up, walked to the free-throw line and retained his focus enough to sink two free-throws. He did not come to the locker room on his shield. He walked on his torn up feet. There was a giant victory in that moment and if we all think back to that last championship run, and Fisher crying on national TV after his classic performance in game whatever it was, just like that surge of repressed passion, commitment and submission to the team, Kobe sat in the locker room after his Achilles game and showed the same emotion. The season was a failure and there are few players the history of the league I like less than Dwight Howard but that game, to me, deserves as regular a rotation spot on Hardwood Classic as the 81 PT game.
As for this season… The defense will be bad. The offense will be fun. Any problems with Nash are offset by the chance to develop Clarkson. Any problems with Hill are offset by the chance to develop Randal. I think we’ll get a nice season from Kobe but we’ll see. I love watching Swaggy P and am happy he is still around. I think the best case scenario is that things go badly for Houston and that pick winds up being pretty decent couple that with the Lakers just missing the playoffs and the Basketball Gods kissing the ping-pong balls on lottery night, that would be a some Lakers luck right there. Worst case scenario is we get the 4th worst record and then two teams (one bing the Celtics) leapfrog us and land us in the 6th spot in the lottery.
Oh, and dude who thinks this Lakers team can win a championship, I’ve got some old lottery tickets I can sell you for $2 each. You never know.
@Jerke, spot on.
P. Ami says
@Jerke… I think your rundown is pretty spot on. That said, even if they do a little better than that, with a .500 record, that probably still doesn’t make the playoffs in the West.
P. Ami, love it!!!