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Five Things To Keep An Eye On Going Into The Lakers 2013-14 Season Reviewed by Momizat on . As the regular season is set to tip off, there are a few things to keep an eye on this year which could determine just how successful the Lakers will be. Health As the regular season is set to tip off, there are a few things to keep an eye on this year which could determine just how successful the Lakers will be. Health Rating:
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Five Things To Keep An Eye On Going Into The Lakers 2013-14 Season

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles LakersAs the regular season is set to tip off, there are a few things to keep an eye on this year which could determine just how successful the Lakers will be.

Health

This is probably the biggest factor going into the season. Last season, the Lakers were absolutely riddled with injuries and it was one contributing factor (among many) to the team’s struggles and underachievement.

The most concerning players are the team’s core players — Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and Pau Gasol. Kobe was healthy most of last season, but is still recovering from a torn Achilles tendon he suffered in April. The level of play he’ll be capable of when he returns is still a huge question mark at the moment.

Pau Gasol appears healthy and ready to take on a full load offensively, after undergoing a procedure on his knees over the summer.

As for Steve Nash, he’ll be 40 this year and is struggling with nagging injuries. Jordan Hill’s health following a hip surgery is also of concern, although he’s looked quite active thus far.

Certainly, any other injuries that may arise would be of concern as well, but hopefully the frequency and severity of them won’t be as detrimental to the team as they were last season.

Defense

With Mike D’Antoni’s hiring of Kurt Rambis and the team’s supposed emphasis on defense throughout training camp, it will be interesting to see if the Lakers can sustain any kind of defensive identity and maintain their energy on that end of the floor.

In D’Antoni’s system, it is very tempting to want to erase any defensive flaws with a quick three-point shot at the other end of the court. However, the Lakers will have to understand that in order to get the most effective fast-break opportunities, defense and rebounding will be key in attempting to run a faster paced system.

Additionally, now that the team has some youthful players on the wing, transition defense — which was horrible last season — will be another factor to keep an eye on. The team definitely has the physical capability to consistently get back after missed shots, but will they maintain the enthusiasm to do so? Let’s hope so.

Chemistry

Another variable to look at this season will be chemistry. Now, the team has seemingly done a complete 180 in this department compared with last season, but can it be sustained?

Getting off on the right foot is often very important as it sets the tone for the rest of the season, and it seems as though this year’s Lakers have done exactly that. Unselfish passing, positivity, and genuinely wanting each other to succeed have all been common themes in the preseason.

Right now, everything is going great, but what happens when Kobe Bryant comes back? Will Kobe’s presence disrupt the team? Will he slowly integrate himself back into the fray and let the game come to him?

Nobody knows yet, but if the team displays its ability to be successful without him, perhaps it will take less time for some of the younger players to earn his trust than in years past. Generally, if Kobe has trust in his teammates, he’s willing to step back a little bit and let them blossom. But if he feels the need to take over in order to will his team to victory, we all know he’ll do just that, even if it means taking other players out of rhythm.

Point Guards

The Lakers have depth at the point guard position this year. Steve Nash — if healthy — will be starting and hopefully not playing more than 25-30 minutes on a regular basis. Then you’ve got two capable backups in Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar.

Blake played exceptionally well toward the end of last season and can be a streaky shooter at times. As for Farmar, he’s matured since we last saw him in a purple and gold uniform, and appears well equipped to lead the Lakers’ second unit.

If all three are healthy, it will be interesting to see who comes off the bench first, and just how many minutes each of them gets. However, Mike D’Antoni absolutely loves point guards, so I fully see him finding minutes for all three of his lead guards.

To start the season, I’m convinced D’Antoni will play Nash and Blake together while Kobe Bryant recovers, which will leave ample time for all three. When Kobe returns though, I’m also willing to bet that D’Antoni will prefer to play two point guards off the bench together in place of one point guard and, say, Jodie Meeks. The fact that the Lakers are a bit thin at the small forward position will also justify him going smaller and moving players normally considered to be shooting guards down to the three slot.

At the very least, Nash will likely sit out a few back-to-back games, leaving minutes for both Blake and Farmar. Normally it’s rare to see three point guards all get consistent minutes, but I truly foresee each one impacting the game and averaging around 20 minutes this season.

Trades

Without getting into specifics, it’s very possible that a trade (or multiple trades) could happen this season. With most of the players’ contracts being over at the end of the season, the Lakers may look to pick up a few solid, long-term contracts if it makes sense.

Additionally, when Kobe returns, the Lakers will have a slew of wing players — particularly at the shooting guard position — and could look to trade in an effort to add depth at another position.

I personally don’t predict a major trade going down, but can certainly see a minor trade or two throughout the season to avoid redundancy on the roster.

Kobe Bryant Dunk on Hornets

Final Buzzer

With the season set to tip off, there are many encouraging signs going into the season. The team may not have quite the expectations they had last season, but they appear to be much deeper, younger, and more full of enthusiasm to play with each other than they were last season.

Even if they don’t go as far as they did last season (I’m an eternal optimist and will say they’ll go farther), the Lakers will deliver more flair, fluidity, and finesse compared with what was an extremely frustrating season last year.

There are just a few things to keep an eye on, but if all of the aforementioned factors hold up in a positive manner, fans should be in for an exciting ride this season.

Let the season begin, and let’s go Lakers!

About The Author

Suki is a graduate of Cal Poly Pomona and an unsigned contributing writer for Lakers Nation. Follow Suki on Twitter @TheRealSuki and Facebook. You can check out the rest of his work here.

Number of Entries : 181
  • Jim213

    I’d also throw in rotation and minutes. Especially since it seems like the 2nd group may end up getting more play time when they face quicker opponents.

    But if the don’t play D then they’ll likely not have many opportunistic moments at the end of games to final buzzer plays IMO.

    • Suki Thind

      Agreed. Minutes will be interesting. Will the older guys (Kobe & Pau) be limited to under 35 minutes, and will Nash be limited to no more than 25-30 minutes? Also, how much time will be distributed with the 10-man rotation D’Antoni plans on playing with. It’s going to be interesting, but if I’m D’Antoni, the 10 I’m playing solely based on preseason play is Nash, Blake, Farmar, Henry, Young, Johnson, Williams, Hill, Kaman & Gasol. I think Meeks has improved a little bit, but he’s undersized and a bit one-dimensional. I really don’t know what’ll happen when Kobe comes back. D’Antoni mentioned an 11-man rotation, but also said it’ll be tough. But if you’ve got everyone playing pretty well, then maybe he’ll have to figure it out? Good problem to have, I suppose. Haha.

      • Spitfire47

        Sorry but Meeks has NOT improved.He is so inconsistent with his shots and sometimes on D made Rambis shaking his head while covering his face according to report.Meeks inability to finish the rim will reducw his minutes and spot as well to Henry, who, impressed the coaching staff and the front office as well

        • Suki Thind

          I agree that Henry should definitely be ahead of Meeks. I have not been impressed with Meeks at ALL since he came here, really. Defensively, he’s okay. The improvement I was talking about was that he now tries to lay the ball up instead of thinking he’s LeBron James on the break. lol….but he still misses a lot. Jordan Hill has been eating off of all his mistakes though.

          • Daryl Peek

            Jordan Hill will be the odd man out the way I see it. Kaman’s return will cannibalize his minutes. Both Meeks and Henry are very good together defensively with Farmar and Johnson. I see that rotation continuing.

          • Kobe24

            Honestly I don’t see how you can say Hill will be the odd man out. Although I must agree, Jordan Hill hasn’t been playing the best/ hope to see but, Lakers don’t really have much big.

            If Gasol and Kaman are starting at C, PF Shawne Williams will come off the bench. They will need another big man and thats where Jordan Hill will come in imo. Meeks will be the odd man out or maybe even Henry (if D’Antoni is really stupid)

          • LAL918

            I’d have to DISAGREE with you about Henry on that one. Since then, Henry’s the one who outclassed the fuck out of Meeks; if anything; Henry take over the backup 2 spot over him.

          • Paytc

            Lal918, Obviously you know what’s up! Henry is a baller! It would be a crime to put Meeks on the floor before Henry. I don’t think the Laker fans will tolerate such a mis-carriage of justice for long. The good thing is who ever they put on the floor must produce because we all know the additions added this year are better than several of the returners without saying any names. :-)

            Go Lakers!

          • LAL918

            The only downside to this season is that we may get destroyed by getting out-rebounded against other teams. Still, we’ll see what happens if this current Lakers team will surprise everyone.

          • Daryl Peek

            Why are pitting Meeks against Henry when they will both be the first off the bench together?

          • Daryl Peek

            I like Jordan Hill also, love his old school big man hustle effort but we must take personal feelings out of the mix and pay attention to what the HC is saying and doing even if we don’t agree.

            Now we pretty much know Nash, Blake, Young, Williams and Gasol will be the starters Tuesday night. Seniority and offensive ceiling predetermines this, on paper that should be our best offensive team. I know many will disagree, especially with Blake as a starter. I’ve tried to tell most how much value Blake has as a versatile PG/SG combo player. Do I think he’s a legit starter in this league? NO, not anymore at least but he can fill that role from time to time. Phil Jackson, Mike Brown and now D’Antoni all see the same when it comes to Blake. There’s good reason they all do. Even Greg Popovich & Doc Rivers holds Blake in that esteem.

            Farmar, Meeks, Henry, Johnson and Hill have shown they’re our fastest and best defensive unit. Hill fits really well with that group but they do struggle in half court sets offensively, and are very small up front. This is where Kaman comes in. Hill is a better hustle player but Kaman is proven as a much better rim protector, and light years better than Hill offensively. That offensive punch Kaman provides is what will have Hill on the for the most part. Farmar, Meeks, Henry and Johnson are lights out in the open court! They are trouble defensively as they will press and trap the ball full court. This is a defensive dynamic we haven’t seen out of our Lakers since Eddie Jones and Van Exel were in the back court with Kobe.

            Meeks and Henry will be on the court together, Hill will be the odd man out. As Suki said, that sucks but I don’t think MDA will be stubbornly set on that rotation if things go awry early and often. We saw plenty of evedience of that last season as the rotations shifted often.
            As Laker fans we need to let the process play out. None of us is all knowing, just try to read what we are seeing and hope for the best.

          • Suki Thind

            If it happens, it really sucks for Hill because he’s such a great guy to have on the floor. Incredible offensive rebounder, cleanup guy, and solid defender. It’ll be tough, but they can possibly play a rotation where Kaman and Hill come in together with the second unit. But, you’re right, Jordan may be the odd man out. Hopefully he can at least get 15 minutes or something like that.

          • Paytc

            Jordan Hill is a baller ! He will come in and make his presence known and felt.
            You don’t have to worry about the tough players, just worry about the weak ones with a small amount of gas in their tanks. Go Lakers!

          • Jim213

            I’d say Meeks may likely end up being the odd man out. They have plenty of guards at the position and by the way that Blake has been shooting as of late it appears that he’ll get some playtime at the 2.

            But Young has proven more so to shoot consistently this preseason (options). Hill has proven to be the garbage man for the team and if they struggle defensively which involves giving teams second chance opportunities I don’t believe he’ll be sitting out too many games (20 minutes a night?).

          • Paytc

            I think it’s consistent play in easy, and tough games, at home and on the road that will determine the so call odd man out. It’s easy to shoot and play well in easy and/or home games. Or to play well once in a while (streaky).

            If I were coaching I would pay attention to the real ballers on the team. You know the road dogs. Time will tell who’s able to “STEP UP ” to the challenge most consistently. Good luck to them all because this year we have enough talent on the bench to expose the “least” capable. May the most capable rise to the top.

            Go Lakers!

          • Paytc

            We can trust one thing this year. The coach will give the first nod to the players the FO decided to pay the most money to first. But the good thing is the team has many more capable players on the bench. Once we get into the flow of things I have a great feeling the cream will rise to the top. No fan favorites, just capable and positive proven production. Ballers stand up , Now! May the games begin. Go Lakers!

        • Daryl Peek

          As I see it the only thing Meeks needs to improve on is shooting consistency. I’d like to see him at a 39 to 42% 3pt clip VS. his respectable 36%, that was lower than his career average, last season. Every player in the NBA is a streaky distance shooter. No one comes in on fire from distance all the time. Meeks has been consistent defensively, that’s why he will get PT off the bench.

  • 3339

    Lakers are going to get beat down on rebounds this year. They aren’t really athletic on the front court and will probably play small a lot this season. Rebounding, along with defense will be an issue this season. Rambis is a good defensive coach, but doesn’t have much to work with. Think the Lakers are going to rely on shooting 3 pointers 2 much this year.

    • Paytc

      Interesting viewpoint? I think Kaman,Hill,and Gasol will nab a few rebounds. When Kobe is playing SF he will grab some boards as well. Remember rebounding is not just about size but hunger to get after the ball. That said, I agree that we need to be sure to address having a few players who will rebound and play good man to man defense.

      I agree that we can’t always rely on shooting the 3 balls and out scoring everyone. We tried to shoot the 3 balls last season and Meeks (who we brought in to shoot 3′s) was not too reliable. Not to pick solely on Meeks because there was no one healthy or good enough to put on the floor who could be reliable to knock down that open shot. We do have some better shooters this year. And we have added some scorers as well. It should be interesting to watch. Boy do I want to be a part of the coaching staff :-) LOL…..

      Go Lakers!

  • Gregory Choa

    With all due respect to all these peripheral issues being brought up about rotation and minutes for the role players on this team, there is only one, CENTRAL thing to keep an eye on this season and it has entirely to do with Kobe Bryant: his eventual return to the fold and the extent to which he can effectively re-integrate himself into both D’Antoni’s system while adapting his game to the strengths of this revitalized support cast around him.

    This is quite literally the “million dollar question”…what will Kobe look like when he returns and how willing and able will he be in adapting himself and his game to this new system and the cohesion already being exhibited in his absence through camp and the preseason?
    All other considerations are fairly secondary in the general scheme of things…right?

    • Suki Thind

      True. As much as outsiders have hated and written him off, Lakers fans have assumed that he’ll be better than ever. I’m one of the ones who think he’ll be very close to what he was, but we’ve also got to be realistic. He started running on surface, then “scaled back,” and it wasn’t ruled a setback. I do believe that it’s not a setback and he wants to make sure it’s got the flexibility and strength to do all of the other stuff full bore, but it’s going to take some time. Having said that, I feel as though he’s going to make sure not only his Achilles is strong, but everything in his lower body as well. I’m confident that he’ll be thorough, and we all know he’ll exhaust every option, but because of that, it could take some time. In my view, he will get back to an elite level, but it may take longer than he and all of us had hoped. The good thing is we’ll know he’ll truly be ready when he does return.

      But yeah, a big concern is how he’ll implement himself. I think he realizes that this season isn’t championship season, so he may actually pace himself a bit more. If the team is actually doing decently well, I think he can take a back seat for a little while and let the game come to him. But, I give that only a few games if he’s feeling well. lol…we all know the Black Mamba has been waiting since April to prove everyone wrong and prove to himself that he can overcome anything. Should be interesting, nonetheless!

  • Qing Zhang

    Watch them playing last year, they all seem to doubt each other. So far in the pre-season, they have showed they loved to play on the same team. Dwight Howard brought more distraction to the team than his talent, not saying he is going to do the same to Rockets, but he was a bum for the Lakers.

    The only drop off from loosing Dwight Howard is rebounding, but we gained better team chemistry, better shooting, better team defense (because no more distraction), and better offense flow, and yet the Lakers will struggle to make playoffs? At least one of the so called top 6 teams will struggle, because sports analysts are just bunch of people trying to make up something from nothing.

  • drunklaker

    2014 Championship finals: Bulls Vs Lakers. Lakers take it in 6! may be I m drunk but I strongly think so!!!

  • jarradcvh059

    My Uncle James just got an
    almost new black BMW X4 SUV by working parttime online… my sources
    J­a­m­2­0­.­ℂ­o­m

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