Can Dwight-less L.A. Actually Be Better?

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HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – Don’t go misinterpreting the headline as this somehow trumpeting the Los Angeles Lakers as a serious challenger for the West crown, let alone a threat to unseat the Miami Heat.

The NBA still wants L.A. showcased on Christmas Day, but this isn’t 2012-13 after all. That fantasy ended, a certain center did say, as a nightmare.

Still, there is the 2013-14 season to play before the Lakers can go LeBron and ‘Melo hunting next summer. In a loaded West where San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Los Angeles Clippers, Houston, Golden State and Memphis look like playoff locks before the first tip, and Minnesota and Portland could be fast-risers, the mighty Lakers could again be scraping for a playoff berth come mid-April.

But is there a chance that this re-tooled Lakers roster will be better off than last year’s dysfunctional bunch? This entire discussion begins and ends with health, starting with Kobe Bryant‘s unpredictable return from Achilles surgery at 35 (Aug. 23), Pau Gasol‘s feet and knees at 33 and Steve Nash‘s back and body at 40 (Feb. 7). Another injury return, and a significantly underestimated one, is power forward Jordan Hill, 26, coming back from a torn labrum in his hip. He played just 29 games last season.

Any setbacks or new injuries to any of the “Big Three” for an extended stretch will sink the season. The roster is way too thin to cover for the heavy lifters. Deep into the luxury tax for next season, the Lakers had no way to substantially upgrade the roster even after Dwight Howard bolted. They opted for a bit of financial relief and used the amnesty provision to part with a slowed-down Metta World Peace. They let a handful of free agents go and replaced them with Jordan Farmar, Nick Young, Wesley Johnson and Chris Kaman. Not exactly a Murderer’s Row.
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2013-14 ROSTER 2012-13 ROSTER
PG: Nash, Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar PG: Nash, Blake, Chris Duhon, Darius Morris
SG: Bryant, Jodie Meeks SG: Bryant, Meeks, Andrew Goudelock
SF: Nick Young, Wesley Johnson SF: Metta World Peace, Antawn Jamison, Devin Ebanks
PF: Jordan Hill, Ryan Kelly PF: Pau Gasol, Hill, Earl Clark
C: Gasol, Chris Kaman, Robert Sacre C: Dwight Howard, Sacre

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“We’re excited to see what we can make of ourselves,” Nash recently told reporters. “We really are going to try for the second consecutive year to find chemistry and identity, but we’re excited for it, so we’ll see.”

Not exactly a title guarantee, but at least it’s a roster full of players, both young and old, with something to prove. That goes for coach Mike D’Antoni, too, who needs to prove he can stretch and grow with a team not stocked with youthful gazelles to carry out his high-octane offense.

So here’s why this Lakers team, as unimpressive as it might look on paper, can be better:

No more Dwight tension: The charade is over. There will be no more microscopic Dwight-Kobe relationship introspection, no more D’Antoni railing against utilizing the strengths of two low-post players, no more Gasol groveling about standing 18 feet from the basket. There should be plenty of fresh air here. Gasol will start at center where he will be more comfortable and presumably more effective, and Kobe won’t get rankled day-in and day-out by Howard’s playful ways.

Nash back to being Nash: Assuming he is healthy, Nash should more resemble the player we know, the one who creates for others and doesn’t stand off in the corner. L.A. will still be big with Hill likely starting alongside Gasol, but Young will spread the floor better than MWP and should be a consistent 3-ball threat. Wes Johnson can also run the floor as well as the 6-10 Hill, so this should help Nash push the ball more. And with Kobe coming back from the devastating Achilles injury, perhaps he’ll be more accepting of playing like a traditional shooting guard and be less commanding of the ball, as he said was the plan when the Lakers traded for Nash last summer.

Offense was already pretty good: Despite all the dysfunction and injury issues, the Lakers still averaged 102.2 points, sixth-best in the league. They’ll miss Howard’s 58.7 field-goal percentage, but their middle-of-the-pack 3-point shooting should improve. It’s still up to D’Antoni to coach to his personnel’s strengths and not what he would like their strengths to be. While this group should be able to run sporadically, Kobe isn’t exactly prepared to do that and the high-mileage Gasol isn’t Amare Stoudemire in his prime. Still, the offense should be able to create an identity starting in training camp, run efficiently and score at a high rate.

Rambis’ mission: Defense. The Lakers were horrible last season, playing as if they had never heard of a rotation. So in one of the more interesting hires of the season, D’Antoni reached out to Kurt Rambis, a former Lakers blue-collar forward and assistant under Phil Jackson. As an analyst on Lakers broadcasts and nationally for ESPN, Rambis was a harsh critic of D’Antoni, specifically how he used his personnel. Now Rambis must find a way to make a starting five that includes Nash, Young and a recovering Kobe to D-up. When Howard was on the bench last season, the Lakers were abysmal defensively. Hill’s return will help on the boards and defending the paint. With a training camp to implement a scheme and, Rambis hopes, an identity — something the Lakers never attained last season — it is possible to turn a porous defense lacking great individual defenders into a pretty decent team defense. Still, it is not a job for the faint of heart.

So what does it all mean for the Lakers? Are they destined for the lottery or can they be one of the season’s surprise teams and make it back to the playoffs?

154 Comments

  1. Allen says:

    If the question is are they better than last years roster, sure I guess. But honestly who cares. Why we are subjected to bad Basketball just because Kobe is about to go limping into that goodnight and the Lakers won’t be relavent for awhile. The real question is who are the Lakers better than in the west. OKC, SAN, GS, HOU, MEM, DEN, CLIPPS, MIN, and throw in portland for good measure means the Lakers have a long way to go to get back to the finals. After Kobe they are beaten at almost every position every night. Plus with Howard they were suspect on defence and now that he’s gone Chris Caveman is going to defend who exactly? Which point guard is 39 year old Steve Nash going to guard? L.A is thei place to be still accept now it’s red and blue instead of purple and gold and I wish the media would let go of the Lakes teet and focus on the future.

  2. Steven says:

    The Lakers will be a surpirse team because you have players that can fit D’Antoni’s and can be consistent.They also have size for every positon.Nick Young and Wes Johnson both stand at 6’7,a good size for the Small Foward spot.Hill stands at 6’10 and Kelly at 6’11 for Power Foward,then at Center you have some seven footers.The back court is a perfect size and still really quick at the same time.You also have to consider the All-Stars,MVPS,Championships,etc of some guys on the team.They know how to get the job done and can mentor the young guys to do the same thing.

  3. eQ2.0 says:

    Why Rambis? I like him too. But just like in Minni he is being asked to do something with nothing and ultimately he will leave with egg on his face.

    Why pick up 1 way players (offense) then hire a defensive mind to coach them? That’s like taking a defensive roster and adding Mike D’Antoni as your coach.

  4. cysco says:

    Haters. This team hasn’t even played a game all I need to see is one game with a fully healthy team. Without Howard I seea smoother no more wide elbowed posting up to lead to fouls. Nash will need to pace himself and stay healthy Jordan hill to. Need to see how hungry we are. We can make some noise having nothing to loose

  5. Brandon says:

    championship or bust
    playoffs arent good enough

  6. dave cutler says:

    I am a fan of Dwight Howard but I do think that him leaving LA is his loss. I feel pretty good about the new team and with last seasons horrible play we should have learned our mistakes. We will see in a few months.

  7. PreacherBoi says:

    I am a Lakers fan. I have been since I was about 7. I do not forsee the Lakers going out of the first round. Yes, the team indeed looks healthy, but I am not happy with the moves the Lakers made the last 3 seasons. Young and talented free agents next year, could really help the Lakers, but for the Lakers to bring in 3 or 4 good free agents, Kobe has to go bye-bye. I like Kobe I think he is one of the best Lakers but if he is on the team next season again, then we will only have enough to bring one free agent. Lebron? no. Melo? no. It is time the Lakers rebuild and start all over. Here are prime examples of teams who started over and made a playoff comeback, some for the first time: Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State Warriors, Minnesota Timberwolves ( I have faith in them), and the LA Clippers, Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers. Nobody ever thought these teams can go deep into the playoffs. the last two years I did. if the lakers can rebuild next year, with Kobe out of the picture (retirement, or with another team), then I can see the lakers making their comeback for a championship in 2 or 3 years. that is faster than most of the teams who rebuilt.

  8. josey says:

    Kupchak khows this is a lost year! Anybody who really knows basket ball knows the lakers r done! Nash, gasol, kobi r at the end of there careers! And they don’t have a better supporting cast than the SPURS! YOuR OnLY BLOWING SMOKE UP FANS THAT DONT Know BASKETBALL! The y wanna get in that next lottery! While giving u hope that the lakers will b contenders and they ain’t even pretenders! Keep blowing smoke up peoples butts!

  9. Eaglos says:

    You cannot compete with seniors. In days maybe but not in basketball. Lakers still have the same bad coach, still have two centers and still have Kobe. So no, they will face another humiliation.

  10. G-Cann says:

    Lots of great points here. I’m aging myself, but I grew up watching the Magic/Worthy/Kareem Lakers, and tasted puke during the Ceballos/Elden Campbell ‘era.’ The biggest blow to the Lakers was the death of Jerry Buss. With him went the Laker mystique, replaced by ‘Daddy, I wanna be the boss’ Jim Buss. He’s is the reason we don’t have Phil Jackson and Dwight Howard, and the reason we do have D’Antoni and Chris Kaman. Excuse me, I think I just tasted puke again…

  11. Darryl says:

    The Lakers front office has made me sick to my stomach.

    My favorite team is now a scrub team with the worst coach and now one of worst centers in the league.

    This roster is definitely not a D’antoni type of team. WE WANT PHIL! Phil would turn these scrubs into overachievers.

    This is a very bad time in Laker land.

    I love the Lakers during the good times… I love the Lakers during these dismal times as well.

    D’ANTONI has to GO!!!! I hate seeing him on the Laker bench. SMH

  12. kobe ballhog says:

    GBE Greatest Ballhog Ever that is how kobe will always be. he will average 40pts agame just to get his scoring stats up high and put up 50 shots a game, then go to the bank and still collect his 30 million salary until he retires.

  13. Hoopfan88 says:

    This team is being built around shooting which fits D’Antoni’s offense. Farmar = 3pt shooter. Young = 3pt shooter. Johnson = 3pt shooter. All 3 of them are young and can run too. Nash, Gasol, and Kaman are all great shooters for their positions. If Kobe can still run and shoot he’ll fit in fine too. I can’t imagine Kobe coming back to be as good as he has been but he still has the ability to be effective. Don’t forget Kobe’s best scoring seasons have him chucking 3’s all day (6.5 attempts per game in 05-06 averaging 35.4pts) and he still puts up 5 3pt attempts per game. If he focuses more on his shooting and increases his efficiency and takes a lesser role on the court without dominating the ball (saving his legs), I think he could have a surprisingly good season. I see him as a midrange post scorer/distributor and 3pt threat, but his days of dismantling defenses with sheer ability are likely over. The Lakers may be able to score and be entertaining, but I don’t see them being able to compete on the defensive end with so much age and rehab. Personally, I already wrote off the Lakers when they hired D’Antoni. Ownership damned this team when they hired him. His style will never win in the playoffs, period.

  14. Nic says:

    Lakers will be in top 6. After all that happened last season, it’s all gone and now we’ve got a new team! Will play together and support each other. Got a fresher, younger 3pt shooting team now… And 3 future hall of famers!!! And KOBE BRYANT. #Purple&Gold

  15. Clyde Branch says:

    Lakers will be competitive but and will be a tough *Regular Season team to beat (if the big 3 stay healthy) but playing any of the top 6,7 or 8 teams in the playoffs for 7 games I think is too much for Nash & Pau and a early first round exit looms again

  16. qdqq says:

    Lakers got enough talent to be a playoff team, and in the playoffs you never know what nash kobe and gasol can do. I think theyre plan is pretty much, get to the playoffs and lets see what happens.

  17. Tom says:

    It’s hilarious that people think this Laker squad can make the playoffs… They will have close to the league’s worst defence and will be hanging out with the Kings/Suns/Jazz at the bottom of the West

  18. Kobe-Lebron-Carmelo-Pau-Steve@Manila says:

    Yeah I totally agree with you Frank.. You can’t count LA out.. Good health is what they need and they will surely be a contender.. 95%, Lebron will go to LA.. He doesn’t need a ring playing for Miami.. He is better on giving LA it’s 17-20th Championship.. Together with Carmelo.. It surely be a three-peat.. GO LA!! Go and get the 17th ring!!

  19. rantrave says:

    with D’Antoni’s coaching style (no defense whatsoever), they wont get past first round, put Jeanie Buss in charge and then put Phil as Head Coach, that is the move that the lakers need to do this season.

  20. M1978 says:

    Lakers should start to rebuild. This lineup is good enough to reach a 6-8. place in the west and maybe a second round playoff defeat but unfortunately more likely a first round defeat. My suggestion would be: start to rebulid.
    Fire D’Antoni, get a couple of youngsters alongside Kobe and Gasol. Let Nash retire before he fades away finally. This Lakers could be contenders in 2 years but they simply need more youth.

  21. rishabh says:

    let kobe play pg
    nick young sg
    wesley jhonson sf
    pau pf
    kaman c
    it wud b a strong offensive n defensive line up with nyc pace

  22. Rodum says:

    Just watch and learn haters

  23. Michael Jordan says:

    people forget the lakers big 3 only played about 20 games together they switched offense and coaches twice and were more injured than brandon roys knees ..despite that they still won 45 games with everyone healthy and a full offseason to prepare and fix previous problems i think they might be a little better like 5th or 6th seed 50-53 wins…only a 7game improvement

  24. Khaleeq says:

    They have the roster with a lot of new people, who could surprise even the better teams. We may not be championship contenders, but we will do some damage

  25. Jose (Clipper Nation) says:

    should of kept Earl Clark. I liked his game and I saw potential but I guess Lakers saw otherwise. I looking forward seeing Lakers beat Houston on every meet. I’m looking forward to that. Kaman knows how to play he just needs to stay healthy.

  26. Frank Lopez says:

    I think the Lakers will have a similar season as last year only this time they stay relatively healthy make a Trade for Carmelo Anthony make the 6th seed. Kobe Bryant plays 70 straight games Wins Scoring Championship and MVP All NBA First Team. LAL go on an Insane playoff run. Upset the 3rd seed Clippers, 2nd seed Rockets, and 1st seed Spurs Win the West and Beat LeBron James Miami Heat and Co without an injured Dwyane Wade 4-1 Lakers are 2014 CHAMPIONS Kobe Bryant Wins Finals MVP scoring 33 ppg including a 40 pt game in game 5 clincher. LeBron James Decision 2014 Takes His Talents To Hollywood With The Los Angeles Lakers and is the start of a Dynasty Type Run Lakers Champs from 2014 All the way till 2020 Champions Kobe Carmelo LeBron Era

  27. j8841o says:

    NewsFlash: the lakers will not make the playoffs. Their roster has gotten worse in all categories. Nash is 102 and not even focused on basketball, hence him trying to make it on a soccer team. Kobe is a great player, I actually expect him to have the scoring title this upcoming season, but he cannot do it by himself. One player averaging 40 points does not win games, it’s a team sport and he doesn’t have the personnel around him to pick up the slack. Sorry Lakers Fans it’s time to face reality, you can’t win ‘em all.

  28. sportfan says:

    Theres a reason they play the game. There is only 1 certainty in life. There are no certainties!

  29. m2both says:

    You Fools!! Lakers are looking stronger than last seaspn. Last season was unlucky becasue the mamba lost his leg, but this season I have higher hopes than last season. Gasol-more versitille than Dwight will shine. Kobe and Nash will do what they do best and I like the inclusion of hill and young. Hill will bring more pace meaning we won’t be slo angelas lakers anymore and Young will bring 3 point range! Another good thing is our bench, Blake, Farmer are good distributors and 3 point machines, Kelly and Kaman bring size, strong D and paint game while Wesley J and Meeks will also better our bench by a lot. Laker fan dream? Possibly, but who says dreams don’t come true, after all Kobe is recovering way ahead of schedule. ;)

  30. true laker says:

    get bynum back

  31. sports fan says:

    If the Lakers make the playoffs they will be no higher than the 8th seed. And that is a very big IF.

  32. Krash says:

    does anyone remember what happened to the nuggets when Carmelo left? THEY GOT BETTER! way better than when Carmelo was with them, which is what’s going to happen with the Lakers. Without someone bringing down the mood of the locker room (and their free throw percentage) the Lakers will be even better

  33. Tony Wilhite says:

    I can’t help but feel that the Lakers wool play better as a “team”. With Howard gone taking his ego with him, the Lakers should be able to have more diversity in their offense. Gasol will be the key. If the offense runs through Gasol, they will be better. Rambis’ ability to design a workable defends for the team will make the offense better. Kobe will be Kobe. ‘Nuff said.

  34. Eric Cartman says:

    Never underestimate chemistry, experience and (especially for Kobe) for the first time EVER being the underdog.

    They’ve got nothing to lose. That takes off a lot of pressure that they obviously couldn’t handle last season.

    Now just imagine they get some real chemistry going. After all, this season, it seems everybody really wants to be there, some of the guys bleed purple and gold and there is a real pecking order (without a Wannabe-Leader who couldn’t lead a dog on a leash. I could piss myself laughing remembering D12’s “I told the guys”-rants in postgame interviews. All I thought was: “Stop “telling the guys” and make some free-throws, you steel-nerved leader. :D ).

    Add a bit of luck (of which they had NONE last season), some decent D (Rambis, my man!) and plain old FUN playing ball.

    Yes, they are an aging group, but who almost whooped the Heat two months ago? And how old was their core? And everybody here still sees them as contenders. Just saying. Kobe, Nash and Pau might have lost some of their athleticism, but with age comes expierence. Why run when you can run the ball?

    In closing, I don’t see them getting a ring in 2014.

    But then again, I don’t see why not.

  35. Derrick says:

    Of course the lakers will make the playoffs. Kobe still going to be Kobe. Pau will be the old pau but more focused. Swagy p nick young has got something to prove, so does Wes Johnson an Chris kaman. If they fight hungry we will make the playoffs.

  36. CornHole says:

    this season means nothing for LAL… zero expectations.

    it’s all about the cap space NEXT season. If free agency & reloading doesn’t go well next year then the Lakers will be in for a rough stretch, a drought.

  37. James says:

    The Lakers need to just have a fun, relaxing season, obviously try for a low seed if they can even get one, an look forward to next season… Ill bet money we end up with Paul George, he already said he would love to play in his hometown an that if kobe where to call him an try to recruit he would have a tuff time saying no… With close to 50 million to play with next year, paul George will get between 10-15 leaving us plenty of money to go for other big names… The lakers, as well as the Celtics are two of the biggest franchises in the league, an you are NUTS to think they wont rebuild, their money an franchises depend on it… Unless they all cash out an send them to Seattle? Now who sees that happening, no one… Be realistic, im a hard core lakers fan but like I said, the Celtics are going to bounce back to, the east better enjoy thrashing them this seaon, an probably next but it wont stay that way for long

  38. what is love says:

    i this they will be an average team

  39. Bob M says:

    No boards and no D, but everything else looks OK, hahaha The Lakers waited for Howard to set up in the post last year and Kobe was impatient and believed that he had to score 30 a night to win because the role players didn’t play their roles well.
    I think this team will be better than last years team, but old Pau and Jordan Hill will not be able to compete in the boards and defensive areas. This is a D’Antoni-type team and, if the players buy into the running concept, they will make the playoffs.

  40. Jimmy Buckets says:

    @lakerfan2012 – a bog man who can shoot free throws is worthless if he cant get to the line often….

  41. thefan says:

    lakers if lucky will make playoffs but even if they do, its a first round exit…i also have huge doubts if lakers can actually sign a big star to come to LA play and continue to drive this empire during the 2014 mega free agency…at that time kobe would be what 36? no clue how his health would be and on top of that he would leave and retire from LA the next season after 2014. so that supposed mega star they sign would have to have an awesome supporting cast to compliment his game in order to compete for a title, players like melo and lebron have an amazing team built around them right now…it would be almost stupid to leave just to play in la…lakers would have to get amazing pieces and bring a very good star in order for lebron or melo or someone similar like them to come to la…so in the end all great things come to an end, we have seen it with the celtics, mavs after their title have become horrendous, your gonna see that again for them this season and mark would have no choice but to blow up dallas in 2014..and LA if they are smart would get rid of kobe/gasol get some quality pieces for a solid rebuild..

  42. Laker fan 2012 says:

    I see them as a solid team not a great team without Dwight and kobe getting older their will be no defense but at least they’ll have much less pressure and a bigman that can shoot free throws. Farmar may be better than Steve Blake Meeks will be better this year nick young will be a huge improvement over MWP since he was old and didn’t do much anymore, also young fits in with D’Antonis system better and hill barely did anything last year so he’ll contribute more. But Nash Kobe Gasol Jamison and Blake won’t be as good, so their in a very bad place to be until they get some good young defenders. Not good but not bad enough to get a good draft pick I see them being anywhere from a 7th seed to not making the playoffs.

  43. […] Can Dwight-less L.A. Actually Be Better? ” Hang Time Blog | NBA.com […]

  44. Jimmy Buckets says:

    @rickj – you actually think the lakers will have a better season than golden state?????

    What lakers have to do to be successful:
    1. Get rid of Kobe, let the TEAM play as a TEAM this cancer has plagued that aspect of this team for many years now.
    2. Rebuild

  45. DRUMMERCASH says:

    LA all the way! can anybody say, “Title Contenders.” can’t knock the hustle, or the heart of a champion. Let’s Go.

  46. Kobe son says:

    People forget that nash basically made joe Johnson in Phoenix ..imagine how he can make wes Johnson look..and don’t forget Nick young … I see career high in points for both of.those players..and the Lakers won the chip without Howard..and Bynum really wasn’t a factor in that series …it was gasol people!!! Just don’t be surprise if the Lakers make it b father then you think

    • chocolatemilk says:

      I would agree if Nash wasn’t 40. He’s done. he’s always hurt and he can’t stop anybody on defense. And we all know defense wins

  47. Jim says:

    Next on the scoring list is MJ, then Kobe will be the all-time scorer at the Guard position in NBA history; keep track of progress at Kobe Countdown (click name)

  48. his airness vs the black mamba says:

    if bryant can come up with some michael jordan stuff, the lakers can make a run and possible to win a championship

  49. Dangerous_Dave says:

    Unfortunately Nash’s problem isn’t this or that injury. His problem is being old. That means that any significant knock and he will become injured again, and will take a very long time to recover if he recovers in season at all. I’m pretty sure Nash will spend a sizeable proportion of this season out just like last season.

  50. marty says:

    No chance in west.Zero defense on the perimeter.U should be able to score when u only play one end of the floor.

  51. Drago says:

    If they are going to make a decent run they should limit minutes for their big 3 under 30 minutes Nash for 20 at best and put their faith in their bench.If they don’t do that they wil break down half way through the season.

  52. J says:

    they’ll finish 12th at best

  53. installer-x says:

    Nash back to being Nash??? ha ha ha..yeah right…The big elephant in the room is that no matter how they tried D’Antoni, Nash and Dwight to work together it wasn’t bound to happen since Kobe keeps jacking his shots like he’s playing with other low level players. The only way D’Antoni’s offense would have flourished or worked was let Nash handle the ball and let him run the team and Kobe needs to be a spot up shooter..Kobe can always go to his god mode one on one for the last shot in the 4th quarter but not the whole game. Watch the replays from last year..Nash brings down the ball, once the ball rotates and reaches Bryant, guess what happens..Bryant jacks up the shot, what a ballhog..that’s the biggest reason why Dwight left..seriously.

  54. J says:

    they’ll stink!!!

  55. laalway says:

    it think theyle make it
    itll be
    1.warriors
    2.spurs
    3okc
    4.clips
    5.memphis
    6.rockets
    7.lakers
    8mavs

    I know I put warriors first but look at how well they did last year plus they upgraded and okc downgraded a lot and spurs will be towards the top again also

  56. travis says:

    losing metta is an upgrade, he cant play D anymore. Losing Kobe might be an upgrade cause he jacks 30 shots a game and making like 6?. Downgrade on Dwight, or can possibly be an upgrade if they play better without him, you never know same like kobe. Nash is 1 year older which is a downgrade, who cant play defence aswell. LA will be a mess.

  57. Eli says:

    if theyre healthy then they will be about the same as last year with howard unhealthy prob finish 7th 8th or 9th

  58. Andrew says:

    Nobody plays D on this team. 10th in the West is my prediction.

  59. Lance says:

    1 question…. why does jim buss doesnt want to have a talk with stephen a. smith???? and answer all his questions. haha.

  60. Z says:

    i seriously doubt Lakers next season for many reasons. for the first one being the coach and his play style with all this 30+ players seems like a bad idea. Even though they added some new young guys Lakers core is still old as it can get. If Lakers to be really effective they must play at a slower pace game where they can attack at half court.

  61. butch says:

    Kobe: Bitter without him(Dwight Howard)!

  62. bigpoppapump says:

    Kobe is gonna come back and win the ship next season. Then the mamba will retire!!!

  63. Ben says:

    Nash will also be a year older and they’re really weak at both forward spots. Add to that the uncertainty over Kobe’s injury and I can’t see them improving.

  64. Joe Gallagher says:

    The Lakers will start the season with their best player injured and the team will continue to have injuries due to the age of their starters and the weakness of their bench. But for the few games that everyone is healthy they will be tough – and fun to watch!

  65. Bob Nash says:

    WOW ! I am a huge Laker fan and personnally I am glad that both Dwight and Metta (
    Ron Artest) are gone Dwight wasn’t happy here and his shoulder and back may never be right again.As good as he could be I never felt that he ever gave 100% not to mention his pathetic foul shooting, would you really want him in a crucial game during crunch time. Metta is still a good D player but he took too many 3 point shoots for his ability to actually make him effective. Mike D’Antoni is no Phil Jackson but I feel he deserves a chance, I will reserve an opinion after pre-season thats right pre-season Mike Brown practised losing going 0-8 last year. I hope Rambis really does concentrate on Defense.
    If Kobe can make it back as good as new by Thanksgiving than yhe Lakers will make the playoffs. Pau is still one of the smartest centers and I believe some of the new Lakers will bring run and gun plus a healthy Jordan will get us some offensive rebounds.
    I think there are a ton of ifs with this team but I think with a healthy Kobe they will get the maximum effort and slide into the 7th or 8th posoition for the play offs. I believe that we are in for a fun run.
    Bob

    • laker nation says:

      lakers will probably be better than last season because dwight howard was a pain in the butt to everybody and now we have a younger team

  66. Nando says:

    6,7,8 it doesnt matter as long as the Rockets get eliminated first.. Were keeping the young players n building a super team 2014…Laker Nation 4-Ever!!

  67. Kimmy says:

    Lakers are finished. Curtains closed. I still think though, they are better off without Dwight Howard. He simply didn’t want to play w/or for them, so he didn’t. My son says he’s gonna do the same thing w/Houston, if they don’t win. I hope not. Talk about losing all respect.

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    Wizards

  68. neil says:

    im a lakers fan but i have to admit, we’ll be lucky to even make the playoffs

  69. Lakers Fan says:

    To be honest they can only go so far with D’Antoni. Buss’ son started the problem by hiring Brown over Adelman (Kupchak’s choice), and then D’Antoni over Jackson which to me is the final nail in the coffin. But I do commend him for unloading Bynum for D12, although he didn’t stay but it’s not the end of the world cuz to me, he’s not the most dominant big man in the league. Yes he’s athletic but has no go-to moves, miserable from the free throw and too immature. If Bynum and Oden were fortunate enough (injury riddled careers) they would have owned D12.

  70. NJ_Nets says:

    I’d say last years roster looks much better. The Rockets acquired Howard and were immediately considered one of the best in the west, so how can the Lakers lose Howard and not be considered worse than last year?

  71. Danny Do says:

    Given from best to worst: Spurs, Clippers, Thunder, Warriors, Rockets, Grizzlies, Mavericks… Lakers are at best 7-8th. Will be interesting to see will they be fun to watch or simply a repeat drag. If injury haunts them once more, could be bumped out of playoffs contention by the Nuggets or the vengeful Jazz!

  72. tekamotz says:

    pretenders

  73. tony says:

    Without Coward, Lakers defense will suffer a bit but they will be a much better team offensively , I think they might end up surprising a lot of doubters out there.

  74. jerm says:

    They got a younger and that’s it Howard didn’t play well last season he was a bad rental if u ask me he was recovering from the back surgery and he just doesn’t have the mentality to compete on consistant basis in la so with that being said u will see he ain’t the same player and he will have A very similar role in the offense in Houston cuz James harden is a certified stud and can put the ball in the hole period

  75. Loki says:

    Lakers are not going to win a title with that lineup. For their sake I hope they end up in the lottery as another first round exit doesn’t really help if they’re not getting anything to work with next season, less of course they’re trying to show Lebron or Melo how good they are without them and how good they could be with either of them. Still, the sun never sets on the Lakers, but it does get cloudy, and now it’s cloudy.

  76. Sami says:

    Idk why people is underestimating the Lakers. Yes the so called best Center in the NBA Coward is no longer a Laker, but that doesn’t mean they ain’t gone make the playoffs. We have the better squad than, Jazz, Twolves, Mavs etc. I believe we’ll make the playoffs. 8, 7 or 6 seeds is the place where Lakers will finish 2013-14 season. Stop hating and enjoy the show. Lakers 4 Life!

    • Pouchon5 says:

      You need to understand that the Lakers do not play to make the playoff, they play to win the Larry O’brien trophy. And I don’t think that can happen with D’Antoni.

      • Rocketman says:

        It won’t happen with the current cast they have either.Don’t blame the coach for everything either. As Calvin Natt I guarantee after that injury Kobe will not be the same.

    • TimberPuppy says:

      Currently, the Lakers do not have a better roster then then TimberPuppys. Kobe is great, but we all know how things worked out when he had to do it all himself + he’s 35 with a healing achilles that he is apparently going to come back early from…

  77. Javier says:

    Lakers and their fans deserve anything bad that happens to them.

    Freaking arrogant mother …. Well you know what I mean.

  78. erwin says:

    L.A. will be lucky to make the playoffs unless a miracle will happen come February, or by then it will be too late. As a Laker fan im still hoping they make the playoffs but im just being realistic……

  79. Kamil says:

    I think that they look pretty good.

    They will make the playoffs; although I do not think they are a threat in the West.

  80. Artchil says:

    I’ll wait for their first 20 games…

  81. W/E says:

    of course cause D12 is a brick, any team would be better without him

    • j8841o says:

      Yep your absolutely right. Just look at how deep the Magic’s playoff run was this year. LMAO!!!!!! Get real

  82. Billy says:

    Im a big Lakers fan and I will cheer for them no matter what. This years roster looks kinda like the 2009-2010 champions. But their missing 3-point shooters. Especially consistent ones. If the Lakers are healthy and play well together, then i see them getting the 7th or 8th seed. Everyone knows they have a big hole in the defensive end but we’ll just have to see how it works out. GO LAKERS!!!

    • Heavy T says:

      Might look like the championship team they had then but 4-5 other west teams have gotten 10x better since then & Gasol is a showed of what he was then

    • TimberPuppy says:

      Also, who is Bynum’esk, or Playing the roll of Ron Artest on that roster..?

  83. Lakers-Warriors-Suns. says:

    There is a chance we could beat the Clippers. And maybe get 5th seed ;)

  84. Lakers-Warriors-Suns. says:

    Well i’m glad Howard left. L.A. felt weird.

    • Rocketman says:

      Hmmm I glad he left to and came to the right team with the right coach and the right owners! Lakers need to rebuild its
      time!

  85. Fontan says:

    They will be title contenders this season(not joking), if healthy.
    Kobe is a top 10 player of all time , even not 100% he will be at least very good if not spetecular, Nash playing as a point guard is unstoppable on offense, and Gasol the most talented and unselfish big man in the game, and this year they have serious role players.
    3-6 seed in a loaded west and serious threat in the playoffs for any other team, that means , contenders.

    • anthony says:

      you are an idiot thinking the lakers can make the 3 seed.

    • Heavy T says:

      Seriously keep dreaming, Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, Grizzlies, Warriors without any major injuries will all own the Lakers, all they have is Kobe & Gasol cause Nash cant play his normal game when Kobe has the ball most of the time considering Nash’s game revolves around running the play’s

  86. BigMike says:

    I think they will be better overall. Basketball IQ will improve on the floor without Howard and MWP, who are both not the smartest players out there. And Howard’s emotional IQ is a distraction. MWP’s defense has significantly declined with his loss of lateral foot-speed, so I don’t think his departure will make a big difference to the defense. Howard is definitely more intimidating in the paint than either Hill, Gasol or Kaman, so that will be a loss to the defense.

    But Kaman and Gasol are smarter more versatile offensive players, and have some shooting range. I think they can run a more varied half-court offense than lob to Howard or throw it in the post where nine times out of ten he gets it swiped away.

    Both Nick Young and Wesley Johnson add speed and shooting range which are 2 areas the Lakers sorely lacked last season.

    My tip is they will be better overall, maybe even a first-round playoffs victor, but can’t see them getting much further than that.

  87. Thunderstruck says:

    LET’S GO LAKERS!!!!! Nick Young, Healthy Kobe, Healthy Pau Gasol, An Ok Steve Nash, A Good Jordan Hill, Some Good Back Ups… I Think Their A 7th Or 8th Seed. No Higher Than That. If So, That Would Be Amazing.

  88. RickJ says:

    First of all…. I had no idea that Wes Johnson was now with the Lakers….. Let’s not forget that he really came on strong last year at the end of the season with the Suns. Sure he was not at starting caliber, but in my opinion he and Nick Young can really make a difference on this team. They are true run n gun players that will suit Nash very well.

    Remember, the Suns went to the Western Conference Finals just a few years ago with a major lackluster roster, but how? Nash, plus players that can run and shoot 3s. Both Wes and Young can do that.

    Last year they had Metta and unhealthy Howard running the floor and they couldn’t do the run n gun, but this roster I think can really push it.

    I’m not a Lakers fan at all…..but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they steal 5th place, 6th is even more possible.

    1. Thunder
    2. Grizzlies
    3. Spurs
    4. Clippers
    5. Rockets
    6. Lakers
    7. Warriors
    8. Nuggets

    • Sami says:

      You exactly know what your talking about. Young and Johnson are one of the best 3pointers in the NBA and when they’re hot can’t stop them. Gasol and Nash will prove the doubters wrong and a health Mamba I’m sure the Lakera will finish 6 or 7.

    • lol says:

      You’re nuts if you think the warriors are going to end up a 7th seed while the lakers place 6th. The warriors are going to be a lot more solid defensively with the addition of Iguodala on top of that he will probably be teaching Harrison Barnes a lot. I’ll give you that the lakers DO have a pretty good chance at the playoffs with the Nuggets weakening and the other lower seed teams still not looking like much of a threat. However a 6th seed prediction for the lakers at this point can be over ruled. They’ll be going at it for 7th or 8th

    • Sit Down says:

      Grizzlies #2 and Lakers > Warriors, just stop, please.

    • anthony says:

      There is no way the lakers finish ahead of the warriors

  89. NbaFan says:

    The lakers lost 10+ games due to howard
    poor free throw percentages͵ Foul trouble͵ and offense fouls. I know they would be better.

  90. Knick fan since Ewings rookie yr says:

    I agree that d’antoni has alot to do with the state of the lakers but the owner needs to also step aside and let his fam run the team. D’antoni was a bad pick for coach cause he is too set in his offense. He doesn’t make it fit the personel. He got Dwight outta there and if u think there’s a chance in he’ll that melo will play for him then I got a bridge to sell you. Just make rabbis the coach. Learn to stop ppl from scoring then run pick, roll & Kobe.

  91. Unkle Daddy says:

    After this season, it’ll be time to blow it up and start over. Let Kobe go out to pastor, if he wants to play let him sign someplace else, I think he would retire first at this point. Like the Celtics they knew it was time, once again the lakers should follow in the C’s foot steps.

  92. Deezie says:

    The Lakers will be way better without Dwight. They wont have to deal with a player who gets hurt all the time instead they will be able to focus on the main goal at hand, winning the championship.

  93. Samuel L says:

    Biggest problem. Is Nash

    • Bojeezy says:

      The Lakers team doesn’t look too bad actually if Kobe plays this season. At first I was l skeptical with the new players we Mitch got us but knowing already how Nick Young, Jordan Farmar play. Not too sure how well Wesley Johnson will fit in with this team since I rarely seen him play up close and I never really seen have break out games but looks serviceable. Chris Kaman seems like a player they picked up for salary cap purposes or for a trade package. He is an ok center that could put up numbers but he doesn’t seem to move too fast when I seem him play on the Clips. I would of rather have a smaller player like Millsap or if we could of gotten someone like Al Jefferson.

      I truly think the make up of this team would benefit with a 3 outside shooting center like Kevin Love or Andres Bargnani. Having a center that is a threat from the outside can totally fit a D’Antoni uptempo style. While I don’t like that system it is becoming a popular new fade in the NBA. I would rather have a reliable back to the basket center but that is far and in between nowadays.

      I think D’Antoni is in the hot seat if he doesn’t get this team to improve compared to the up and down team we had last season. I know Jim Buss is the new President but the Laker fans can take only so much losing or they will lose interest altogether. I will still watch but many casual fans what this Lakers team to win and win championships. Anything less is unacceptable given the fan base compared to other cities.
      Jerry Buss left his team to his children and out of respect for that great man I will give the decisions they made at least a chance to try to make a run in the playoffs. As long as they have Kobe and Gasol, they can do things no other teams have been able to do. Win back to back Championships.
      I still have hope they can turn their misfortunes around. If not this year the next year when they have less players on their payroll and can spend money wisely like they always have to make a great team.
      Just throwing it out there. If Paul Pierce ever wanted to play in LA. I think now is the time to join up with Kobe and play in his hometown and why not bring Garnett with him. I know it may seem like a stretch but a Laker fan can only dream if it doesn’t work out for them in New Jersey like they planned.

  94. Samuel L says:

    Need to upgrade at pg sf pf. Farmar young Mathews hill. Better bench than last year. Should have kept earl Clark. Pg: kyrie or lillard Sg: Kobe Sf: Paul George PF: Faried or Aldrige C: ibaka

  95. matthew mathis says:

    Pau at the center makes us champions because he will be comfortable in the paint. HEALTHY LAKERS = EVERY TEAMS WORST NIGHTMARE. DON’T BELIEVE ME JUST WATCH!!!!!!!!!!!

  96. zay says:

    They were better with bynum last season

  97. Lil J says:

    Hill over Kaman???

  98. Mike says:

    As long as kobe gets back healthy and ready to pick up we’re he left off in 2009 it doesn’t matter who’s one the team except for Gasol and Nash the lakers will be fine however I don’t think they can make the playoff but never go against the Mamba he just might surprise everyone will just cee

    • Witness says:

      Riiiight right. Kobes just gona turn back the clock 4 years of wear and tear and now an achilles injury was has ended players careers before. KB is 35 now. Your livin in a bubble or something man where apparently your thinking the Lakers havent aged at all since their last championship. Hanging on to the glory days I guess we’ve all done that tho. No chance your Lakers have for a title. Absolutely ZERO.

      • LBJKIN6JAMES says:

        Lakers fans are delusional at this point LOL…

        sorry Laker-fan-boys…ITS OVER !!! THE END OF THE PURPLE AND GOLD ERA !!!

  99. juju says:

    if you think they were poor defensively before, how can you think they will be better defensively this year removing 2 perennial DPOY candidates?

  100. No matter what, so long as D’Antoni is the coach the Lakers will never win a championship with this current Lakers. I, however in spite of D’Antoni, the Lakers miraculously wins the Championship, would humbly apologize. If however the winning was due to Kobe and Nash, and or with Rambis coaching then this apologist is moot.

  101. Roy says:

    That is still a pretty bad line-up. Nash, Bryant, Gasol, and Kaman are the only starting calibur players on that team and they’re all 30+ year old players.

    They won’t even have a remote chance to make the playoffs this season. They should tank absolutely everything except for Nash & Bryant and aim for the lottery. A great start would be firing the incompetent Dan’Foni.

  102. Nick says:

    As good as people want the lakers to be it will be a shame to see them falling out of place as one of the best in west. The lakers really fked over Kobe hring D’antoni as head coach. They don’t have a true center now after getting rid of Bynum and howard leaving. Kobe wants his 6th rings but it is simply not possible because the lakers hired a coach that is one of the worst in the league and doesn’t play defense. D’antoni is to blame for kobes Achilles playing him at 40+ mpg last season. he is also to blame because Dwight didn’t want to play for him. now the lakers are stuck with an awful coach and as long as he remains the head coach no big free agent will want to sign there

    • Justin says:

      Although I mostly agree about Dantoni Kobe stated that Dantoni had no control over how many minutes he played. Also Kobe has repeatedly said that he loved Dantoni growing up in Italy. I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t have hired him without Kobes Ok. The biggest problem for Laker fan’s is Jimmy Buss.

    • marty says:

      No chance in west.Zero defense on the perimeter.U should be able to score when u only play one end of the floor.

    • marty says:

      Your comments ignore facts

  103. Michael says:

    I think that they lost some key pieces but this article is bang on in saying that without Howard, things are going to run a bit smoother. Last year there were just too many playing styles to run an efficient offence. None of the players really fit together and all of them demanded the ball to an extent which would just slow them down.
    They are still going to struggle on defense by losing Metta and Howard, hopefully they can at least fix the transition D by getting guards back first and not relying on people like Gasol getting back since he was playing so high on the block most of the time.
    They arent going to be an unstoppable force yet, but I honestly think they will show some improvement…maybe 5th place? 4th if they really play well. We will see

    • Jojo Lecitona says:

      4th or 5th. No way. You are forgetting that these teams – spurs, okc, clippers, rockets, memphis and warriors (in no particular order) are shoo in for that 1st – 6th place. Lakers will slug it out with the wolves, blazers, and pelicans to land a playoff spot.

      • Mark says:

        Agreed.

      • Sid 6.7 says:

        The Lakers will be slugging it out with the Kings, Suns, and Jazz for that bottom feeder spot. Lmao you threw the Blazers and Pelicans in the playoff mix, the Mavs make the playoffs before them they were 41-41 last season with Dirk missing 30 games plus Dirk is healthy and they have upgraded every position this year including their bench.

  104. maki says:

    sub-par but i think they can make it to at least the 6-8 spot or even the 5th spot in the playoffs given the they are healthy..any combination of Kobe-Gasol-Nash is still good..the bench is better than last year…so yeah..it might be better than last year if they can successfully make a system they can rely on day in and day out and not just lolly-gagging around every night..

    • Sid 6.7 says:

      Nash is 40 and Kobe is coming back from a torn Achilles plus they can not guard any back court in the NBA and a better bench are you joking they have downgraded at every position this year including their bench, write this year off for the Lakers sorry but no way they even get the 8th seed

  105. Dcon says:

    If nash can get back to his Phoenix day they’ll be fine. I think they’ll be better without Howard…that just was never the right fit in my opinion.

    • LBJKIN6JAMES says:

      His phoenix days ?? LOOOL .. Nash will be 40 in February, his ‘phoenix days’ are DONE… and so are the lakers

  106. Pine says:

    losers

  107. ac says:

    They’re obviously not better Jeff. HAving said that, I agree that I don’t think they will be that much worse. I think they will be a little worse, because Howard injured is still a better rebounder than a healthy Gasol and they also lost MWP to the Knicks. If Kobe is healthy, he could potentially secure his team the 8th seed, but more realistically I think they will fall somewhere in the 9-12 range and be a game or two above 500, at best.

    • MARCSAMMO says:

      They should be a better team than last year. They have a decent roster, and some good coaches added this year. Gasol will start at center and do a great job. Three point shooting will be better. The team will be faster and more consistant without Howard. I think the lakers will do just fine this year. (KOBE IS STILL ONE OF THE TOP IF NOT THE TOP PLAYERS IN THE WORLD.) GO LAKERS.

  108. Tikolo says:

    That is the big question for the lakers, I think they can make the playoffs but they will have to play well and develop a very good chemistry. They still have three hall of famers in their team,and they also have some pretty good players that have played well overtime in their carriers so the question becomes can they bond and can they stay injury free for a prolong period of time. If kobe is healthy and the game is close they always have a chance. It should be a pretty interesting season for laker land. Wish them good luck. But who knows being in the lottery might not be a bad thing after all.

  109. abchome says:

    Anyway, they will be mediocre at best.

    • LakersWillWin says:

      Unfortunately, as much purple and gold as I bleed, I believe they will be 6-7 seed at best with another first round exit :(

      • JJ B says:

        that is the best case scenario since the West is so competitive

      • Sid 6.7 says:

        6-7 that’s reaching a bit to much that would make them better than they were last year when they were barely a 7-8 and having now downgraded at nearly every position since plus Kobe’s injury, not to be a hater but realistically the Lake show aint making the playoffs this season

      • LBJKIN6JAMES says:

        Lakers are finished
        Kobe needs to gracefully retire or go to a championship contending team for the last 2-3 years of his career, the Lakers need to rebuild but Kobe’s ego is in the way of them doing that

      • PutYourNameOnIt says:

        Not to doubt your team but by logic, 6 seems a bit far fetched, if they have a good season may 7 – 8 seeing western conference has (OKC, SA, LAC, Houstan, GS, Memphis) that’s 6 almost lock in already. To fight for 7 – 8, (Denver, Portland (huge maybe?), Min (huge maybe?)) it’ll be interesting.

      • if the lakers can be better than that if gasol could get back to his old self

    • BigBoy says:

      Gasol is going to start at PF with Kaman at C. should have put Pau in the PF spot still for the 13-14 roster to project the starting lineup like you did for 12-13. Writers are inconsistent.