All eyes were on Kobe Bryant’s return last year and it was short lived. Bryant only played in six games for the Lakers. We haven’t seen the Lakers look this bad in a long time. Without Kobe the Lakers were led in scoring by Nick Young and Pau Gasol. Gasol only played in 60 games but he had a solid season as he clashed with D’Antoni. The Lakers have become the second team in Los Angeles as they only won 27 games.
If an average fan watched the Lakers last season they might not know a single player on the roster. Jodie Meeks started 70 games alongside Wesley Johnson and Jordan Hill. They were at the bottom of the league in team defense allowing 109.2 ppg. Steve Nash only managed to play in 15 games as he battled injuries. Players like Kendall Marshall came in and thrived in D’Antoni’s system averaging 8.0 ppg and 8.8 apg. Shooters like Nick Young and Jodie Meeks shot 5 three pointers a game. The season was a disaster from the start and it doesn’t help when you have to start Robert Sacre, Kent Bazemore and Shawne Williams.
With all the turmoil in L.A. they only got the 7th pick in the draft. They went with the freshman out of Kentucky Julius Randle. The kid has a high motor and he really gets after it. He led Kentucky to the National Championship game. That was the only pick the Lakers had but they managed to get in and get Jordan Clarkson in the 2nd round.
In the off-season the Lakers lost Jodie Meeks, Pau Gasol, and Kendall Marshall. They had cap room and tried to make a run at big name free agents like Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James. I thought they would go after guys like Eric Bledsoe or Greg Monroe. They needed players to build around. It took them a while but they finally hired Byron Scott as a coach.
Coach Scott has said he wants to limit Kobe’s minutes throughout the season and that should help the Lakers. He has a veteran team that should be much improved if they have a healthy Kobe.
The Lakers look a completely different team this year. They didn’t add any big name free agents. They re-signed Nick Young, Wesley Johnson and Xavier Henry. They added Ed Davis, Carlos Boozer and Jeremy Lin. Boozer and Lin are still solid players while I think Randle will play over Ed Davis.
The Lakers are not champion contenders and they still might not make the playoffs in a tough Western Conference. Health is the most important thing for this team going forward. If Bryant and Nash can stay on the court they will win some games. Clarkson and Lin can learn a great deal from Nash while Kobe tries his best to save the day in late game situations. If healthy the Lakers will win 36-40 games.