Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe 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.
What are your (realistic) best-case and worst-case scenarios for the Lakers in the upcoming season?
Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: The Lakers probably are due for a worst-case scenario, which they haven’t experienced since, when, George Mikan misplaced his eyeglasses? OK, not quite. But when you miss the postseason just once in 19 years and claim five of the last 14 NBA championships, you’re living awfully well. The league’s 99 Percenters, meanwhile, wouldn’t mind seeing a Forum-blue-and-gold plunge into the lottery. And while no one wishes Kobe Bryant ill, a comeback later rather than sooner wouldn’t upset rivals. So “worst” would mean no playoffs and lousy lottery luck. Best? With their depth chart, a quickie Kobe return and a resurgent Pau Gasol maybe could snag a No. 8 seed.
Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: Worst-case is Kobe takes much longer to return than he expected and/or he just can’t do what he’s always done, unable to explode off the dribble, can’t stop on a dime, can’t rise up and can’t nail down his jumper. Kobe might seem superhuman, but he’s not. So we’ll see. Best-case is he feels great, plays great and maybe even returns with a little perspective that allows Steve Nash to operate the offense, which would seemingly aid Nash, help Pau Gasol and massively take pressure off Kobe’s freshly healed foot. But Kobe has to foster that harmony.
Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: Best case: No. 7 or 8. That is possible. But that also means Kobe Bryant comes back strong, Steve Nash is the Steve Nash of last season but with good health, Pau Gasol is solid, and the patch job at small forward/backup shooting guard gives the Lakers something. Worst case: A season more like 2012-13 and being thankful to be in the same division as the Kings and Suns (for appearance’s sake).
John Schuhmann, NBA.com: Their range is somewhere between eighth and 12th in the West. Maybe Kobe Bryant will be back in November and maybe Steve Nash has something left in the tank, but it’s clear that this will be a very bad defensive team. They ranked 19th defensively last season and their best two defenders — Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace — are gone. Their roster is littered with defensive liabilities (Hello, Nick Young!) and Pau Gasol is only decent defender left. So things will be ugly on that end of the floor and the Lakers won’t be able to hang with the top six or seven teams in the West.
Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: You had to throw the word “realistic” in there, huh? Because of the Lakers’ impressive history, there are very few teams that not only have such high expectations, but that can be argued to be considered realistic. As far as best case, I’d say winning a playoff series would probably be considered a good season, especially considering how we just don’t know what Kobe’s availability and efficacy is going to be like this season. Worst case? If the Lakers start sending scouts to Kansas games a few weeks into the season, well, that might make for a tough season for Lakers fans.
Aldo Avinante, NBA Philippines: The Lakers could probably sneak into the playoffs, and a second round appearance would be great for them. Pau Gasol will return to All-Star form this year, while Kobe will be back to 100 percent by the end of the year — and break a few more records along the way. The worst case scenario is that the new recruits will have a hard time meshing with the team, a slow start will cause them to miss the Playoffs and Kobe begins to think about retiring from the game.
Philipp Dornhegge, NBA Deutschland: Best case: Kobe makes an early return, plays like his old self and immediately finds his groove back with Pau and Nash. Together they lead a young and dynamic team into the Playoffs, where they lose in the first round. Worst case: Kobe reinjures himself, Nash declines rapidly and the young supporting cast is overwhelmed. The Lakers finish last in the Pacific Division. Or maybe the worst case turns out to be the best with regards to the future.