When you think of basketball powerhouses, the Los Angeles Lakers always come to mind. But this year, things haven’t been going all that well.
The Lakers, for all the the talent they have on their roster, are somehow 15-15. It’s probably because Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash are still gelling together, and Nash has been hurt for a while. Nash is great, and so are Howard and Bryant. But this team still just doesn’t seem to have it, despite bouncing back from a 9-14 record to rattle off five straight wins (before a win and a loss).
Kobe is averaging 30.1 points per game and he rattled off 10 straight games with 30-plus points, an NBA record. He is averaging 3.5 turnovers per game, but for someone who has the ball as much as Kobe does, it’s not horrible. He runs the show, and he can distribute the ball too. Bryant is averaging 4.9 assists per game, and he is still looking good despite his advancing age.
Bryant has sparked a great offense, averaging 103 points, good for fourth in the league. Howard has helped the Lakers own the glass and Los Angeles is averaging 45.9 rebounds per game, good for third in the league. While they are only 19th in assists, Nash hasn’t played much, and he will definitely help run the show and set up Howard and Bryant.
They aren’t good on defense, either, placing 25th while allowing more than 100 points per game. This is concerning, because Bryant and Nash are both old, and the Lakers’ lack of youth could hurt them during the playoffs. However, there’s no denying that even though there are some flaws with the Lakers, they are a team with an ample amount of talent.
Now, the problems.
Oklahoma City, Golden State, San Antonio, Memphis, the L.A. Clippers and Denver are also realistic contenders for the Western Conference title, and they all look better than the Lakers right now. OKC has Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, with some talent around them, like Kevin Martin, Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins. The Clippers have 17 straight wins, and the league’s best point guard in Chris Paul.
Golden State and Memphis are both well-rounded, young teams, and while the Spurs are old, they have lots of talent. So it will be very hard for the Lakers to get through the West, especially considering that the Thunder easily knocked them out last year, and how the Nuggets were very close to knocking the Lakers out. Plus, the Warriors are also a very complete team, and the Grizzlies can definitely get the best of the Lakers.
To have playoff success, Nash must get the ball to his playmakers and make sure the Lakers are scoring a lot of points, to compensate for their lack of defensive skill. There is the possibility of a younger team wearing them out deep in the playoffs, like Oklahoma City or even Golden State. The Lakers are experienced, but that definitely isn’t everything.
A shot of youth couldn’t hurt, but the Lakers don’t have a very talented young player (Howard is pretty young, but he has played for almost 10 years). So, they will need to count on their older players to stay fresh, and against other energetic players, that could definitely hurt them.
Even though they have tons of talent, the Lakers don’t seem to be able to win it all. Teams like the Heat and Thunder are younger and have just as much talent, and Dwight Howard has hurt team chemistry before. There always seems to be a problem in the Laker locker room, and Howard certainly won’t help any of that. If he doesn’t get the ball enough, he will let people know he is mad.
The Lakers have always had lots of talent, but it hasn’t gone well for them recently. In the last two years, they are 1-8 in the second round, as the Mavericks and Thunder ran all over them. It’s hard to forecast the Lakers going anywhere, especially considering that they are probably not going to have one of the top seeds. If they win a series, it will have to be without home-court advantage, against a good team like Memphis or San Antonio.
And in the second round, if they make it, they’ll probably have to beat the Clippers or Thunder. Does the journey to a title sound easy for the Lakers? No.
So basically, while the Lakers can definitely win one or even two playoff series, they have a very small chance of winning it all or even getting out of the West.
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