Los Angeles Lakers Season Preview – NBA Predictions
The Los Angeles Lakers had one of the busiest offseasons of any team in the NBA, and as a result, they’re going to be ready to contend for a title in 2013. The 2011-12 season was a major disappointment, and when a shakeup was needed in L.A., GM Mitch Kupchak did what needed to be done to get this team back on track.
Odds to win (By bovada.lv)
2013 NBA Championship: 5/2
2013 Western Conference: 13/10
Last season, the Lakers entered the year primarily the same team that walked off the floor with their heads sulking in the playoffs the season before. The team made no significant moves to get better, and their 2011-12 results showed.
This time around, it’s a whole new ball game. Having gone 41-25 last year, the team dropped off a bit from their .695 winning percentage in 2011. This team needed to get better, and it’s safe to say they did just that. Ridding themselves of a young center in Andrew Bynum is a risky move, but the risk is about as small as it gets when you replace him with Dwight Howard. The Lakers also lost their starting point guard Ramon Sessions, whom they traded for at the deadline, but once again, they made the right move when they brought in Steve Nash to take his place.
There’s no doubt that the Lakers are going to be better in 2013, but there are a couple of concerns when it comes to this new roster—first of which is health. Howard is coming off of season-ending back surgery, Nash also has a bad back and Kobe Bryant is about as banged up as it gets for someone who is rarely willing to sit a game out. The age of this team doesn’t help their cause, and if injuries catch up to them, you have to wonder how well the bench will be able to fill the voids.
The other concern has to be chemistry. Bryant is coming off a season where he took 23 shots per game, Howard has been known to gripe when the ball doesn’t come his way and Pau Gasol could easily get lost in the shuffle considering his performance last year. This team will be a much safer bet once their chemistry has developed, but luckily for the Lakers, if there were ever a point guard who could get so many stars involved in an offense, it’s Nash.
The 38-year-old floor general might be the only facilitator in the league who will get Bryant to play without the ball in his hands. If Bryant can learn to come off screens and play a more catch-and-shoot style, the team will be far better off getting everybody involved.
The Lakers are adding elements of the Princeton offense this season, which is going to help tremendously when it comes to spreading the ball. Gasol is going to be used in the high post (where he plays best), Bryant will be forced to play off the ball and World Peace will find himself left alone in the corner, which is great for the Lakers as long as he’s making his shots.
The stars have grabbed headlines this offseason, but it’s important to note that the bench is much improved as well. Last year’s reserves were a detriment to the team at times. The additions of Antawn Jamison, Jodie Meeks and Chris Duhon will add depth and production, and if Jordan Hill can continue to develop the way he did at the end of 2012, he will become a solid rotation player moving forward.
The new-look Lakers will likely struggle at times throughout the year—similarly to how the Miami Heat’s Big Three struggled in their first campaign together—but when it comes down to it, they are too talented to not compete for an NBA championship. They’re not the first Big Four to pop up in the Association, but they are the first to have dominant players at center and point guard. The teams who have the most talent typically lack stardom at those positions, but with the moves the Lakers made the moves this summer, it’s tough to argue against the notion that they have the best starting lineup in the league.
The Lakers seemingly lost their elite status over the past two seasons, but with the moves this summer, they’re going to be one of the best teams in the league. If there’s a team out there that’s built for greatness, it’s this Lakers squad, and they’re going to be right there in the mix when the Finals come around at the end of the season.