Coming off a 27-win season, it was hard to find many positives from last season. The Lakers simply were not good in many areas last year, but they were very good at shooting the three.
Players like Jodie Meeks, Jordan Farmar, and Kent Bazemore had excellent shooting years and the Lakers ranked among the league’s best in shooting.
But many of those shooters from last season are now gone. And with the additions and subtractions of this roster basically finalized, fans can take a look at the roster and try to figure out what the team is capable of.
The return of Kobe Bryant will obviously be the big story coming into the season, but there are a lot of new faces to go along with some familiar names.
Of course, there is also Byron Scott taking over for Mike D’Antoni who resigned. That is sure to make a big difference as well. The Lakers want to surprise people this season, but what will be their best chance at doing so?
With that said, we asked our panel of experts what do they believe is the Lakers’ biggest strength heading into the season? This is what they had to say:
Russell Valenzuela (@RussVal4): With so much uncertainty coming into the upcoming season, the presence of Kobe Bryant is the team’s biggest strength. Even though there are still questions about how much he has left after his injuries, there is no denying his competitive drive.
From what has been said in interviews, it appears that everyone is looking forward to spending time with Bryant and having the chance to learn and play with him.
Last year, Bryant wasn’t around the team too much, especially after they went on their downfall. Things should be different this time around and he will be there to push the rest of the roster.
While I personally am not expecting too much from the team this season, having the team practicing and playing with Bryant will help elevate everyone’s game and help keep the Lakers looking more like a team.
As for what he will bring on the court himself, Bryant still remains one of the elite talents in the league. Just having him on the floor will make things easier for everyone else.
I just hope that Bryant trusts his teammates and is willing to help them grow. Even though he is clearly the best player on the court, he shouldn’t feel the need to do everything on his own.
Corey Hansford (@TheeCoreyH): Looking over this Lakers roster, it is difficult to find one strength of this team before actually watching them. But there is one thing that stands out.
The Lakers are pretty deep as a whole.
Outside of small forward, where Wesley Johnson will probably have to start, the Lakers have multiple players who can do damage in different ways.
Steve Nash can hardly be relied upon at this stage, but if he does happen to stay healthy, he is still an excellent shooter and distributor. Even if he isn’t, Jeremy Lin is an excellent playmaker and penetrator, an Jordan Clarkson is easily the best defender and athlete of the bunch.
Kobe’s return immediately improves the shooting guard position, while Nick Young may be a Sixth Man of the Year Candidate. Xavier Henry will play some two and three, and showed great potential as a shooter, ball-handler, and defender last season.
Up front there may be even more potential. Carlos Boozer provides stability and Jordan Hill will get to show what he can do with consistent minutes. Julius Randle looks like a stud, while Ed Davis may be the best rim protector on the team and is hungry to prove doubters wrong.
Ryan Kelly looked like a decent rotation player down the stretch last season, and he may struggle to see the court this year. The Lakers are an unknown right now, but the potential is there, and they will have a number of options to choose from once the season starts.
Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner): With the Lakers failing to make any major moves this summer, it is hard to say the team is really strong in any category with practically the same squad. The team still lacks depth at the small forward position and a lot of questions surround the roster from top to bottom.
Personally, I do believe that acquiring Jeremy Lin was a step in the right direction. I’m not sold on the prospect of Lin becoming a superstar in Los Angeles, but the potential to become a force to be reckoned with is there.
With the addition of Lin, I believe the backcourt could become a strength. Not only will Lin improve the play at the point, but rookie Jordan Clarkson is a welcome addition as well.
Clarkson is more of a shooting guard in my opinion and may end up playing both positions next season. Nick Young could backup Kobe Bryant, but it remains uncertain what Byron Scott’s intentions are at the three spot.
It is possible Young might get the starting role at small forward if Scott isn’t confident in Wesley Johnson or Xavier Henry being the starter. Even Kobe might see some time at the three.
Lin, Clarkson, Kobe, Young, Henry and Steve Nash give the backcourt some depth heading into next season. Nash, Henry and Kobe are injury concerns moving forward, but if they can stay healthy, the Lakers strength might lie with its guards.
Nathan Kim (@Kimchiz): The Lakers biggest strength for the upcoming season is the return of Kobe Bryant.
Kobe’s performance has been questioned by the vast majority as he is coming off of two major injuries. Last season Kobe only played 6 games and averaged 16.9 points, a significant decrease from previous seasons. He did however also average 7.7 assists which is an increase from previous seasons. Granted, it is ridiculous to gauge Kobe’s performance off of 6 games, but perhaps we did in fact see a glimpse of a new Kobe.
Furthermore, I think that Kobe has been unjustly doubted. People often forget how great of a player Kobe was even immediately before his Achilles tendon rupture. During the 2012-13 season, Kobe had one of his most efficient seasons in years shooting 46 percent from the field.
Kobe almost single-handedly willed the Lakers into the playoffs, despite a depleted roster and a mediocre head coach in Mike D’Antoni.
All of the criticism pointed at Kobe is unfounded. Yes, most players would not be able to return and perform at an elite level after two major injuries, however, Kobe is not your regular basketball player.
Nothing can be said about Kobe’s performance next season until he actually steps on the court and plays. Kobe loves criticism and will undoubtedly come back strong next season. He is, after all, still the Black Mamba.[divide]
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