The Lakers struggled with numerous problems last season, which caused them to not meet expectations placed on the team before the 2012-13 season began. Team chemistry, continuous injuries, and inconsistencies with the game plan and system were the headlining problems last season.
With fresh faces joining the team, anchored by familiar ones, most don’t know what to truly expect out of this team. While some believe this Lakers team will be a playoff team, others do not. So, what is the most important factor that will enable these Lakers to compete and make the playoffs next season?
The Lakers Nation roundtable writers decided to tackle this topic this week. Here’s what they had to say:
Suki Thind (@TheRealSuki): I would have to say it’s a combination of everything (chemistry, health, Kobe’s effectiveness). Chemistry was certainly lacking last season, and health was obviouly a huge contributor to that as well; being a thorn in the Lakers’ side the whole season. In what form Kobe returns will certainly be a huge factor as well, but I’m not too worried about the Black Mamba.
Pau Gasol and Steve Nash will have to have healthy, bounce-back seasons for the Lakers to be effective, and the Lakers will have to be truly comfortable and confident in Mike D’Antoni’s system. Additionally, the team will have to be committed to the defensive system Kurt Rambis will likely be in charge of implementing.
All in all, the Lakers’ aspirations this season aren’t quite championship level on paper, but if they can fix some of the “big picture” problems they had last season such as health, chemistry, and defense, I believe they can go a lot farther than most people are anticipating.
Corey Hansford (@TheeCoreyH): The key factor for the Lakers’ success this season will be the play of their three star players: Steve Nash, Pau Gasol, and Kobe Bryant. Despite the criticism of the roster, the Lakers’ collection of role players is actually better than last year. With Nick Young, Jordan Hill, Chris Kaman, Wesley Johnson, Jordan Farmar, Jodie Meeks, and Steve Blake, the Lakers have a diverse collection of players; all of whom can contribute in different ways. The question is with the stars.
Obviously, when Kobe returns from the torn Achilles and what level he is at will play a large role in the Lakers’ success this season. Just as important will be Pau Gasol making the move back to center and being the focal point of the Lakers’ post game for the first time in three years. He has played at a subpar level from his championship levels the last couple of years and will need to bump his numbers back up this year.
The Lakers also need a healthy and efficient year from Steve Nash. His vision and ability to space the floor as the best shooter on the roster will help everybody. He doesn’t have to play amazing; he just has to be there for 25-30 minutes a night. If the big three show up this season, the Lakers will be just fine.
Ramneet Singh (@RamneetSingh24): Health can sometimes determine if a team hoists the Larry O’Brien at the end of the season or if they watch someone else celebrate on their court. This season, health can play a major as to if the Lakers can make the postseason or not.
Clearly, the biggest question heading into training camp is Kobe Bryant and whether or not he can come back from his Achilles injury. However, with the old roster and lack of fresh legs, the Lakers have to make sure their training staff is keeping the players in the best shape. In order for the Lakers to reach the playoffs, players like Pau Gasol and Steve Nash have to be close to 100 percent for all 82 games.
It will be very tough for Los Angeles to reach the postseason in this competitive Western Conference and there is a chance they end up in the lottery. On paper, the Lakers do have a solid, talented roster but if these players do not manage to stay on the court, nothing good will come out of it.
I can see the Lakers being a top eight team in the conference, but a twisted ankle or a bad fall can send them falling down the standings.
Elizabeth Benson (@gobibs): After a season of consistent injuries that affected just about every player’s performance and effectiveness in 2012-13, I believe health will be the most important factor for the Lakers to compete within their division and conference and make the playoffs, especially in regards to Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and Pau Gasol.
I firmly believe that the team’s chemistry will be improved and will allow for a more fluid game, especially with the offense. Of course, the defense and a commitment to team defense will be perhaps the team’s biggest obstacle yet again. However, if the players cannot stay healthy, it will create a domino effect that will prevent the team to have any chance of making noise next season.
Therefore, minutes to the team’s core must be managed. This will be crucial since Kobe, Nash, and Gasol are all coming off of major injuries and/or procedures/surgeries. Last season’s habit of Mike D’Antoni overplaying the core can’t be replicated this season.
The Lakers aren’t expected to be contenders next season as the team faces a ton of uncertainty. However, health will be the determining factor for the Lakers, one way or another.
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