April 12, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers trainer Gary Vitti and center Robert Sacre (50) help shooting guard Kobe Bryant (24) as leaves the game in the fourth quarter against the Golden State Warriors at the Staples Center. Bryant suffered a torn Achilles tendon. He under went surgery April 13 and is expected to miss six to nine months. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Team Previews: Los Angeles Lakers

As the NBA season fast approaches, Right Down Euclid will be previewing all 30 NBA teams, breaking down the strengths and weaknesses of each franchise. This preview will focusing on the Los Angeles Lakers, who last year had a record of 45–37 (.549) and finished third in the Pacific Division and 7th in the Western Conference.  The Lakers lost their first round match up to the San Antonio Spurs 4-0.

Team:  Los Angeles Lakers

Coach:  Mike D’Antoni

General Manager:  Mitch Kupchak

2012-2013 Record:  45-37

Place in Conference:  7th

Leading Scorer:  Kobe Bryant, 27.3 PPG (3rd in NBA)

Key Additions:  Ryan Kelly (2nd round draft pick), and signed free agents Nick Young, Chris Kaman, Jordan Farmer, and Wesley Johnson.

Key Loses:  Dwight Howard and Earl Clark were lost to free agency, Metta World Peace  was amnestied and Chris Duhon was waived. 

They say all good things eventually come to an end, and the 2013-14 season looks like it is going to be a long, hard season for the Los Angeles Lakers and their fans.  In 66 seasons, the Lakers have finished in first or second place a staggering 49 times.  The Lakers’ roster is a mediocre team, at best, led by 40 year old point guard Steve Nash, 33 year old power forward Pau Gasol, and 35 year old Kobe Bryant, who is rehabbing an Achilles tear that would sent most players his age into retirement. 

Strengths:  The most noticeable improvement this season will be not having to deal wit Dwight Howard’s childish behavior.  This should allow the D’Antoni-Nash bond to see if it can recapture it’s former magic.  Gasol should play a much larger role in the offense and on the boards, after appearing lost for much of last year.  Chris Kaman will give the team a solid advantage on the boards, as long as he can stay healthy.  6’11” rookie Forward Ryan Kelly will prove to be a breath of fresh air for the Lakers.  Kelly was a leader at Duke, possessing a very good shot, a serious competitive nature, and is well schooled in the fundamentals.   

Weaknesses:  Bryant is coming off of surgery to repair his Achilles tendon, ruptured in the NBA playoffs last season.  He is certain to miss all of training camp, and probably most, if not all of November.  Once he does return, there is a distinct possibility that he will not be the same mobile player who generated 27.3 points per game, 6.0 assists per game, and 5.6 rebounds per game.

The Lakers will face many problems this season, as age, inexperience and lack of size catch up with them.  Up front free agent signing Chris Kaman is the only true Center on the squad, and will share time in the middle with Gasol, 6’10” Jordan Hill, and second year man Robert Sacre who has played in just 2 NBA games.  There are major question marks in nearly every area of their game.

2013-2014 Season Predictions 5-7 sentences:

My prediction for the Lakers is that Byant finds that it is difficult to return to form.  It is going to take much longer than Kobe expects to recapture the old “magic”, if at all.  The Lakers will flounder, much to the dismay of their star studded fans, going 30-52.  It will take nothing short of a miracle for them to reach the playoffs.

If I were their GM, I’d insist that Kelly plays 35 minutes per game, put Gasol on the trading block, scour the D-league for hidden gems, and not allow Bryant on the court until absolutely sure that he is healed.  I would write this season off before it began, and focus on rebuilding for 2014-15.

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