LY W-L: 45-37
Key Additions: Chris Kaman, Nick Young, Wesley Johnson, Ryan Kelly, Jordan Farmar, Elias Harris
Key Departures: Dwight Howard, Metta World Peace, Earl Clark, Chris Duhon
Analysis: More than likely, for the first time since the 2004-2005 regular season, the Lakers will not be participating in a postseason. When you get past Kobe, Nash, and Gasol on the official roster, its average at best.
The Lakers will suffer a bit offensively without Kobe Bryant, but what’s overlooked is how bad the defense will be. Even with Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace, the Lakers were merely the 18th ranked defense. Now, without a sound perimeter defender, and a center who can anchor a defense, this is a recipe for bad defense. The newly acquired Chris Kaman, who will most likely see adequate minutes, hardly played in close games as a Maverick because of his inconsistencies on the defensive end.
Mike D’Antoni is expected to feature Pau Gasol as the starting center. Pau was in a weird role last season as a stretch four that didn’t make use of his skills in the post. Gasol should be able to buoy the Lakers’ offense on the low block and as a passer to shooters.
There’s no definitive starting power forward as of now. Ryan Kelly could be an intriguing stretch four in D’Antoni’s offense because of his three-point shooting. He could complement nicely as a floor spacer to lessen the amount double teams Gasol may see. Kelly shot 42% from distance at Duke. Jordan Hill, Robert Sacre, and Chris Kaman will cycle in and out of the Lakers’ front-court rotation.
So when is Kobe returning? Kobe Bryant, the psycho that he is, may return for the pre-season — after suffering a nasty achilles injury in a home game against Golden State. I won’t be shocked if he returns the first game or comes back around the All-Star Break. Nothing will surprise me at this point with Kobe.
(Projected) 2013-2014 W-L: 34-48
Will the Lakers get any perimeter scoring without Kobe in the lineup? How effective will Kobe when he returns from injury? Can the Lakers defend at a league average level without Dwight and Metta? These are all reasonable questions that will be addressed in the coming months. The Lakers are looking forward to who they land in the 2014 free agent class than this upcoming season.