If you ask Lakers fans whether the team will be better or worse off than last year, you’ll probably get mixed responses.
Are the expectations and goals as high as last season? Certainly not.
However, I personally feel that the level of play will be significantly improved, and the season will be more pleasant overall.
First of all, I don’t think many have the Lakers pinned as championship contenders for next season, as almost everybody did last season.
In that sense, when the Lakers don’t hit 60+ wins, it won’t be a shock to anyone. Similarly, the losing streaks won’t be nearly as frustrating as they were last season.
Now, on to the brighter side of things.
The Lakers should be a much more cohesive unit. Where they often looked like a collection of players thrown on the court together last season with no chemistry, they’ll likely fit better together next season.
Additionally, barring a ridiculously injury-laden season–one filled with more injuries than last season, which is nearly impossible–the Lakers should be a healthier bunch.
More specifically, if Pau Gasol’s knees improved after surgery over the summer and Steve Nash can stay relatively healthy, the team should have much more cohesion and the offense should be much more fluid. Kobe Bryant’s recovery is certainly the biggest concern when it comes to health, but fans can take comfort in the fact that the Black Mamba is doing everything in his power to come back at an elite level.
Injuries certainly played a part last season when it came to consistency (or lack thereof) on the floor, but age played a factor when it came to “bringing it” every single night.
While the Lakers’ core players of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Steve Nash will be 35, 39, and 33 when the season starts, respectively, management has managed to infuse some youth in the forms of Nick Young (28), Jordan Farmar (26), and Wesley Johnson (26).
The versatility of Young and Johnson should allow Kobe Bryant to take his time recovering, and hopefully keep Kobe on the bench for a couple extra minutes per game when he does return–which was a huge problem last season. Adding Chris Kaman (31) will aide Pau Gasol as well, hopefully keeping him relatively fresh for the duration of the season.
The overall attitude and enthusiasm of the team should be much better as well, as all four players took less money to sign with the Lakers and genuinely are excited to put on purple and gold jerseys.
A full training camp should also benefit the Lakers, as Mike D’Antoni will be able to fully install his principles from the start, and the additions that have been made so far this offseason have given the coach players that fit his system.
Next Page: How The System Will Work Out Better