Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
The Lakers went 0-8 in the preseason. What’s the worst case and best case for this team this season? What do you expect out of them?
Steve Aschburner: The worst-case scenario is one in which panic drives everything, from overreaction to the sputtering start and calls for Mike Brown‘s head, to endless speculation about the return of Jeannie Buss‘ boyfriend and a season in which they never really get traction. Best case? The Lakers travel along this learning curve fast, figure out the best ways for Steve Nash to trigger their attack and play up to their 65-victory potential. I’m still expecting a stellar regular season, followed by the challenges of fatigue, injury concerns and matchups in a tough Western Conference playoff bracket. It’s either them or the Thunder in The Finals, more drama than we’ll get out East.
Fran Blinebury: That’s easy. They’re the Yankees. Best case: rings. Worst case: no rings. Despite all of the Hollywood stars sitting courtside, this isn’t the Oscars where “it’s an honor just to be nominated.” With OKC taking a short-term step back with the trade of James Harden, the Spurs’ age a factor and the Clippers not yet ready, I think they come out of the West and take down the Heat in the fantasy Finals commissioner David Stern wants as his farewell present.
Jeff Caplan: We’re talking preseason? The only thing notable about 0-8 is the injuries that forced that record. Kobe Bryant has dealt with multiple injuries, Dwight Howard is no doubt going to be sore at times after back surgery and Steve Nash’s back will always need monitoring. So a crop of injuries is a worst-case scenario. But, enough of that. The best case is what I expect: Exciting, hold-onto-your-hat, must-see basketball, the kind of holy-cow, did-you-just-see-that kind of stuff that L.A. and the league hasn’t witnessed since Magic Johnson ran Showtime. We’re talking about a starting five with three Hall of Famers and maybe a fourth, if you throw in Pau Gasol.
Scott Howard-Cooper: I expect they will be one of the best teams in the league. It’s just going to take time. That was obvious from the beginning, and from opening night. Best-case scenario? A June parade, obviously. Worst case? A second-round elimination in a repeat of the last two playoffs. The preseason record means nothing, by the way.
Sekou Smith: The Lakers are going to be a work in progress until around Christmas. There is no way around it when you assemble that much talent and that many egos. This group is reminiscent of the 2003-04 Lakers who added Karl Malone and Gary Payton to the Shaq–Kobe matrix. They won a lot of games, made it to The Finals and almost won it all. But they were flawed from the start. They won on talent but didn’t have the chemistry (or luck and good health) to get past Detroit in The Finals.