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    09/07/2011 10:47 PM
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2013/14 NBA Team Preview: Los Angeles Lakers

Season Review 2012/13:

Advanced Stats
Numbers
Rank
Pace
94.4
5
Offense
107.8
9
Defense
106.6
20
Rebound
50.6
11

4 Factors
Offense
Numbers
Rank
Defense
Numbers
Rank
eFG%
51.2
9
eFG%
49.6
16
TO%
13.9
17
TO%
11.9
29
Reb%
27.0
13
Reb%
25.7
10
FT%
23.9
2
FT%
16.3
1

Monthly Performance
Record
OffRtg
DefRtg
November
 8-8
109.9
102.9
December
 7-7
112.9
112.0
January
 5-11
107.7
108.9
February
 9-4
110.2
108.9
March
 9-6
109.9
108.9
April
 7-1
110.7
106.6


Not even the reigning champions Miami Heat had so much attention during last season than the LA Lakers and this says a lot about the season the LA team had.

With players like Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard in the same team, the expectations would have to be “Title or Bust”, but unfortunately for the Lakers, we were in 2013 and not in 2009…

Mike Brown would never have an easy task with this roster and with a winless 0-8 preseason, the organization lost trust in Brown and everything went down once and for all when the Lakers started the season with a 1-4 record and Brown got fired. Then, the Lakers managed the feat of not hiring Phil Jackson to pick Mike D’Antoni instead, as he would supposedly “fit better” with the style of the roster.

The run and gun style that characterizes D’Antoni’s teams based on pick and roll sets would never fit the Lakers’ roster, who had an aged core of players, with a slow footed frontcourt and with little outside shooting skills. D’Antoni didn’t know what to do with Pau Gasol and he even put Gasol close to the perimeter like he was a 3pts shooter specialist or even benching him down the stretch.

The team’s lack of speed was quite evident as well. The Lakers had a lot of trouble in stopping their opponents from scoring in transition and they ended up being the second worst team in the league in fast break points allowed per game with 15.9 ppg! When they faced the Miami Heat at home, they got crushed on transitions with the Heat scoring 21 fast break points and 68 points in the paint.

Eventually, the Lakers managed to get a 20-26 record by the end of January and people started to doubt that they would even get to the playoffs, but they ended the regular season with a 25-11 run and grabbed the #7 seed in the Western Conference.

As much as we can question D’Antoni’s work, the truth is that the Lakers lacked the depth to rest the veteran players, while dealing with several injuries on their top players: Steve Nash missed 32 regular season games, Pau Gasol missed 33 games, Metta World Peace missed 7 games and Dwight Howard missed 6 games while dealing with nagging injuries throughout the whole season. Finally, Kobe Bryant got injured against Golden State with three games to go in the regular season. These were too many injuries for any coach to handle with this roster! 

Of course the Lakers had no chances on the playoffs without Kobe Bryant. San Antonio was starting their run into the finals and it was an easy task to beat a Lakers team that started the following lineup in the final game of the series: Dwight Howard – Pau Gasol – Earl Clark – Andrew Goudelock – Darius Morris!


Offseason Report:

The Lakers made a final unconvincing attempt to keep Dwight Howard in LA, but he decided to go to Houston.

With the huge contract that Kobe Bryant has, it’s almost impossible for GM Mitch Kupchak to have enough flexibility to improve his team. Metta World Peace was amnestied in order to save some money, with Kupchak being forced to make some minor deal in different areas of the roster.

After playing overseas over the last few seasons, Jordan Farmar is now back with the Lakers, where he played between 2006 and 2010. With World Peace gone, the Lakers needed to improve the SF position and they signed Nick Young and Wes Johnson, while they signed veteran Chris Kaman to replace Dwight Howard.


Season Preview:

It’s still uncertain when Kobe Bryant will return to the league and in what kind of physical condition. Kobe seems to be like a superman, but he is a 35 years old player who suffered a very serious injury.

Even assuming that Kobe will comeback in good form, it will still be hard to say that the Lakers are clear playoffs contenders, as there are better teams in the Western Conference to contender for the postseason than the Lakers.

Without Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol will be the team’s main post player and he will need to have a monster year if the Lakers want to be relevant. He will play alongside Chris Kaman, but if the German maintains the same level that he showed last season in Dallas, then the Lakers will be in deep trouble! Kaman’s defense last season was laughable and he was continuously criticized by Coach Rick Carlisle given his lack of effort and discipline throughout the season.

Jordan Hill has a lot of energy and he will be a good backup, but there’s nobody else in that bench that can be a serviceable frontcourt backup. Robert Sacre has been disappointing, while Ryan Kelly and Elias Harris are very inexperienced rookies.

The best combination possible would be using Gasol and Hill as the starting frontcourt, with Kaman being the main backup. The main problem with a Gasol + Kaman duo is that it seems a lot vulnerable on defense to work.

Metta World Peace has been very erratic during the last few seasons by being completely lost on offense, while he is also past his prime on defense. However, going from Metta to Nick Young or Wes Johnson is a huge downgrade! We are talking about two players that have already been rejected by several teams mostly because of their poor basketball IQ.

If Kobe Bryant doesn’t recover in time to start the season, Steve Nash will “finally” have the task to lead the team in the same way that he used to do it Phoenix. Of course we are talking about a 39 years old player who played just 50 games last season, but not due to his recurring back issues but due to a broken leg. A healthy Nash playing 30 minutes per game can turn the Lakers into a decent offensive team, as Nash is one of the best players in history in improving his teammates’ game.

Regarding Kobe Bryant, there isn’t a lot to say but hoping that he returns at 100%. Kobe was playing 45.2 minutes per game last April and he was averaging 11.8 FT attempts per game. This shows how aggressive he was being and the huge effort that he was having while carrying his team almost on his own. Mike D’Antoni never liked to use long rotations on his teams, but with so many veterans on the roster, he will have to extend the rotation more than usual or the high number of injuries will continue.

With Kobe Bryant on the team, the Lakers will never be a lottery team, but the combination of D’Antoni with this roster doesn’t allow me to expect good things from them this season. On the best case scenario, the Lakers will fight for the final spot on the playoffs and for that to happen, all their veteran top players will have to avoid injuries throughout the whole season.

My name is André Gomes, I’m from Portugal and I am a Professional Handicapper. My sole purpose is to constantly beat the sportsbooks by taking advantage of the evaluation errors they make. It is most... Read more

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