2015-16 NBA Previews – Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers once again come in off a very poor season that saw Kobe Bryant sidelined. To make matters worse for the Lakers last season, Julius Randle, their top draft pick, missed the entire season after injuring his leg on opening night.
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Los Angeles Lakers Season Preview
Head Coach: Byron Scott
2014 Record: 21-61
Lakers Odds to NBA Title: +10000
Lakers Odds to Win Conference: +5000
Heading into this season, the script has the potential to be totally flipped.
Both Kobe Bryant and Julius Randle are recovered and ready to go, and the Lakers have brought in many key additions to help build the team. If Bryant can stay healthy throughout the entire season, the Lakers could return to at least relevant form here in the 2015-2016 season.
The Lakers haven’t had many strengths over the past couple seasons. While they endured a terrible 2014-2015 campaign, they couldn’t even get rookie Julius Randle work in as he was one of the main injuries on the season.
Now, the Lakers have the talent and ability to put some points on the board with their compliment of shooters.
Let It Fly
Last season, the Lakers ranked 26th in field goal percentage and had a tough time cracking 100 points on a consistent basis.
Now, with Bryant and Randle both returning, along side likes of Clarkson, Russell, and Young, the Lakers have the ability to find scoring not just from 1 player.
It can be argued this also has the ability to be a weakness. However, it’s not because of Kobe. Bryant offers that veteran leadership to help the young core develop quicker and into better players.
The Lakers will have D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr. to name a few of their young core. Los Angeles has done enough rebuilding and retooling of their team to get these guys over the past couple seasons.
With the veteran leadership not just Bryant brings to the table, the Lakers can really gel and become a dangerous team.
Over the past couple seasons, this list of weaknesses could drag on for hours. And while there is nothing proven and just optimism, Los Angeles will still struggle in many aspects of the game.
The main one being defense. The Lakers were last in opponents field goal percentage last season and had teams putting up ridiculous amounts of points on them every night.
The Lakers signed Roy Hibbert, not just for his veteran leadership, not just for his scoring, but also for his presence inside. The 7 foot shot blocker will help solidify a weak inside defensive game the Lakers have been desperately missing.
However, the supporting cast around him is very subpar. Hibbert has Robert Sacre, Ryan Kelly, and Tarik Black around him. The trio is extremely unproven and struggled in 2014-2015.
It’s evident by bringing in Roy Hibbert and Brandon Bass, to savvy veterans, that the Lakers think and want to compete this season. Put those two with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers actually don’t have a bad top 3.
However, with Kobe turning 37 and his injuries piling up, is this the time for the Lakers to think they can make a playoff push? By signing the pair of veterans, those two will be taking a lot of minutes from the young core that needs to develop for the future of this team.
If things work out where the Lakers are competitive, then there is no problem. However, if the Lakers do stumble early out of the gates and put themselves in store for another long season, having their young core lose developing minutes and experience will certainly hurt them long term.
Lakers Season Prediction
The Lakers season really has two ways to go here.
1. The signings of Roy Hibbert and Brandon Bass solidify the inside game and they help lock down defensively while dominating on the glass. Kobe Bryant and Julius Randle are back to 100% and produce effectively throughout the entire season. D’Angelo Russell has a phenomenal rookie campaign and helps produce in the scoring category, like he did at Ohio State.
2. Kobe Bryant just isn’t there health wise. He continues to struggle to stave off injuries and once again seems limited, if any action. Randle endures growing pains and struggles to return from his leg injury. The veterans in Hibbert and Bass produce, but are eventually traded away mid season to allow the young guys more time in another rebuilding year for Los Angeles.
Lakers Key Personnel Losses:
- Jeremy Lin, Ed Davis
The key losses really don’t affect them. Lin’s numbers fell off in 2014-2015 and he really didn’t help the Lakers in anyway.
Davis also saw limited minutes last season and his numbers weren’t a game changer in anyway.
Lakers Top Newcomers:
- D’Angelo Russell (Trade), Lou Williams (FA), Larry Nance Jr. (Draft), Roy Hibbert (Trade), Brandon Bass (FA), Marcelo Huertas (FA),
The list says it all for Los Angeles. They have a solid variety of draft picks/trades and free agent acquisitions.
If anything, applaud the Lakers front office. They see a healthy Kobe and healthy Randle coming into this season and did what they could to essentially “go for it”. While these names won’t jump out at you by any means, they have a solid veteran leadership to potentially put this team in a striking position.
Lakers 2015 Betting Prediction: 42-42
Optimistically speaking, let’s assume the Lakers do in fact stay healthy. A .500 record won’t get you into the playoffs in the West, but would be considered a MAJOR success for Los Angeles.
A team that has struggled and been irrelevant for the past 2 seasons would offer the fans some excitement and reason for optimism going forward.
If Kobe Bryant avoids injuries this year, that will be one man on a mission.
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