No Dwight Howard, Kobe is out injured, and Pau Gasol is in the final year of his contract. From a distance the Lakers look to be in trouble. However, I think they’re a better team than people give them credit for.
They added several players who could make an impact, and got rid of dead weight. They finally got the young athletic wing player who makes open 3’s they’ve been lacking since, well, Caron Butler left. Nick young is a very talented player, who can be an explosive scorer, in D’Antoni’s offense he could really thrive. He has more than his fair share of flaws, but he’s a USC kid and grew up a Laker fan, so hopefully coming to LA can help him realize his true potential.
As good as I think Young could be for the Lakers, a player very few know about could be more important. Ryan Kelly was a 2nd round draft pick this year out of Duke, he’s a stretch 4, he can shoot, can handle the ball fairly well and he runs well for his size, he’s a good fit for this team, and fills a need the Lakers need to run D’Antoni’s offense. I see him starting at some point this year, mainly because he has no real competition, no one else on the roster has his skill set.
Really, the bench as a whole has improved greatly. This off-season the Lakers have added Farmar, Wesley Johnson, Chris Kaman, and a few other players who have had some success in the league. These players are in addition to holdovers Jodie Meeks, Jordan Hill, and Steve Blake. Add all that up and we can say something we haven’t been able to say in a long time, the Lakers bench looks like it could be one of the best in the league. They finally have the depth they’ve lacked for years.
As happy as I am that the Lakers have finally gotten the building blocks they’ve needed, I still understand that the blocks are useless without anything holding them together. That means ultimately it’ll come down to Nash, Gasol, Bryant and D’Antoni. They need to hold everything together. I’m not going to write to much about this, because everything that can be written about this already has, I will say this though, it’s going to come down to 1 question about 1 player. Does Kobe want to win a title does he want to be a part of a championship team? He needs to adjust his game to fit the team if he wants this team to be successful, that means he can’t take 25 shots a game and he has to let Steve Nash run the offense. If not its going to be a repeat of last year, just minus Howard.
To me, the overall outlook is better than most people think. They’re in a good place financially, they’ve added depth to a thin team, and they have established veteran stars who could make them a very good team. I realize its always championship or bust for this team, and they aren’t a championship caliber team, but they’re better and have set themselves up for future success.
They’re going to be good, they might not live up to the expectations they’ve built, but don’t underrate them because of that and don’t be surprised if they put together a really good year. I can see a scenario where they make a deep run into the playoffs, but I can also see a scenario where they finish as a lower seed and lose in the 1st round. It’ll come down to a handful of players, they’ve made the right moves, but I thought they made the right moves last off-season. Talent is nothing without cohesion.
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