Lakers Nation Roundtable: What Is Most Anticipated This Season?

Pau Gasol and Kobe BryantAfter a season that was disappointing and frustrating for the Lakers’ players and fans, a new season of basketball represents a reset button for the purple and gold. While expectations for this team and this season may be lowered (and quite understandably), that doesn’t mean that the Lakers won’t give their fans memorable moments.

Whether it is Kobe Bryant’s much anticipated return from Achilles surgery or seeing what kind of impact the new faces in a Lakers uniform can have, a new season of Lakers basketball is always anticipated by the fans.

What is the most anticipated aspect of the new season? The Lakers Nation roundtable tackled this topic this week, and here’s what they had to say:

Suki Thind (@TheRealSuki): What I am most looking forward to next season is how the Lakers will respond to a disappointing year last season. Many have written the Lakers off as not even making the playoffs, so it will be interesting to see what kind of response that draws from these Lakers. One thing going for the team is that each and every player truly wants to be a Laker and has something to prove.

Kobe Bryant wants to prove his ability to bounce back from a severe injury; Pau Gasol wants to prove he’s still an elite player; Steve Nash wants to prove he can still be effective in this league at his age; and younger guys like Jordan Farmar and Nick Young want to prove that they are complete players who can effectively help a team on both ends of the floor. Collectively, the team wants to prove that it’s still a force to be reckoned with in the Western Conference.

From management to coaches to player to fans, egos were bruised when Dwight Howard shunned the Lakers organization earlier this summer and bolted for Houston. This upcoming season will test the organization’s resiliency, which may even be the determining factor for free agents potentially contemplating joining the Lakers in 2014. How the team actually responds will be the most interesting aspect for me.

Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner): In the aftermath of the Dwightmare and Kobe Bryant’s Achilles injury, the pressure will be considerably less heading into the 2013-14 NBA season. No one will expect much out of this team filled with savvy veterans and motivated young players, and that may prove to be the Lakers’ advantage.

I’ll be most looking forward to see how this team plays without high expectations. I’d like to see how Kobe bounces back from his severe injury and if Steve Nash can return to form as one of the elite point guards in the NBA.

Although most people expect the Lakers to struggle and possibly miss the playoffs altogether, I believe this is the perfect time to take the league by storm and create some the kind of team chemistry that was sorely needed last season.

There will be a talented group of hungry players looking to make an immediate impact while earning a new contract with the team. Players I’ll follow closely will be Nick Young, Jordan Farmar, and Wesley Johnson. All three will attempt to prove their worth of making this team potentially very entertaining and possibly talented enough to compete with the best of the best in the Western Conference.

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Ramneet Singh (@RamneetSingh24): I am most looking forward to seeing how the Lakers respond to a season with lower expectations. In 2012-13, almost everyone had the Lakers as the championship favorites after a summer filled with blockbuster offseason moves. However, after a coaching debacle and a season plagued with injuries, the Lakers ended up with a first round sweep.

However, heading into this training camp, no one is predicting the Lakers to make much noise in the Western Conference. Even though the Lakers franchise has been accustomed to winning championships, having a season with little to no pressure will certainly be a good thing.

This is especially true for Coach Mike D’Antoni.

He was expected to produce results right when he became the leader on the sidelines, and it was obvious at times that he could not handle the spotlight. With all that talent on the roster and the subpar play for most of the regular season, D’Antoni was getting criticized on almost a nightly basis.

No matter how optimistic Lakers fans are, there is a very small chance the team raises banner number 17 this season; however, seeing the team play freely with nothing holding them back will be very interesting.

Elizabeth Benson (@gobibs): Even though the expectations are much lower heading into this season for the Lakers, I am anticipating the start of the new season. Of course, as a fan I will look forward to Lakers basketball regardless of expectations.

However, after a season filled with all the wrong kind of drama, I am looking forward for Lakers basketball to be focused on basketball once again, instead of last season’s distractions caused by drama.

Don’t get me wrong; there’s always room for drama, especially in Hollywood. The Lakers will have that drama that has the potential to capture the NBA’s spotlight with the return of Kobe Bryant, their response to low expectations, and the potential of the new role players acquired in the offseason.

That is the type of drama you want for a team. Positive drama can potentially unite the team and allow them to overcome adversity. Last season saw the drama take over, give the media an open thread of coverage, and ultimately distract the team too much and too often.

We don’t know exactly where this team will end up at the season’s end, or if they will even make the playoffs. However, I’m looking forward to focusing on Lakers basketball, not the distractions, the most this season.


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