The Lakers’ success this season is obviously dependent on when Kobe Bryant returns. While Bryant’s innovative Achilles surgery has everyone optimistic for an opening day return against the Clippers, he will still need to meet with team doctors at the end of this month to determine if he can begin basketball-related activities. Simply put, the Lakers’ chances of making the playoffs rests on how early Bryant will be able to come back.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, the schedule is extremely difficult to start and finish the season. The main issue comes if Bryant is unable to start the season opener and the Lakers find themselves in an immediate hole. The first seven games of the season include the Clippers, Warriors, Spurs, Hawks, Mavericks, Rockets, and Pelicans.
If Bryant’s injury requires the full 9-12 months to recover, it won’t be an easy road ahead as the Lakers will likely have to make a similar push like they did last season just to make the playoffs. This time, the Lakers will hope to come together during mid-season when they play their Magic, Bobcats, Raptors, Suns, and Kings series.
The last part of the season has its opportunities and dangers as well. The last seven games include the Mavericks, Clippers, Rockets, Warriors, Grizzlies, Jazz, and Spurs. If most of these teams are already in the playoffs, it gives the Lakers a chance to make their own push. If not, it will be a difficult stretch of games and the Lakers will hopefully cement their own playoff spot by then.
While the schedule isn’t ideal to start and end the season, it was difficult seeing the Lakers getting off to a good start with all the uncertainty and new faces. As a result, the Lakers should look to the mid-season to really come together and find their stride. If the team is able to take advantage of the “weaker” teams in the league during this time, they’ll give themselves a chance to compete against the playoff contenders at the end of the season.
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