The Los Angeles Lakers are in a precarious position now that Kobe Bryant has retired. They have been asked to be one of the better teams in the league now that they no longer have his salary on their books, and they do not have a complete team as of yet. They did not sign any major free agents in the offseason, and they sit in a western conference that is occupied by a Golden State team that has four potential hall of famers on its roster. This article explains what I believe the Lakers are capable of this season.
#1: Their Team Is Not Loaded With Talent
D’Angelo Russell is a singular talent who would be a much better second option of a better team, but he may become the best player on the team leading a few other nice players. The Lakers have lottery picks who may become great in the next few years, but they are not currently in position to run with the people they have and garner more than the eighth spot in the playoffs.
#2: Nick Young And D’Angelo Russell
The spat between Nick Young and his teammate over recorded conversations that were posted online has torn the locker room apart. The Lakers truly cannot move on unless they have traded one or both players, and their spat as friends may become such an issue that they may not play well at all. The controversy alone has created problems for both players, the team and the league. No one wants to see it drug out in public 82 times this season.
#3: The Lakers Are In A Stacked Western Conference
The Lakers are in a conference that makes it quite difficult for them to even achieve a playoff berth. They may well make it into the last spot in the playoffs, but they will lose in the first round regardless. Their team must continue to improve, and they may well spend 82 games making changes that are worth it. The team will be more competitive in two or three years when the western conference begins to slow down.
#4: Luke Walton
Luke Walton was hired as the coach of the Lakers before the NBA Final were complete, but he is making a comeback to a team with which he won two championships. He was the head assistant on the defending champion Warriors, and he is well-respected around the league. Everyone who knows anything about basketball expects Luke Walton to make drastic changes to the Lakers given his coaching philosophy. He plans to create a better environment for the players, and he will begin to see improvement in a year or two.
Everyone who loves the Lakers will see a better team for the 2016 season, but they will not see a team ready to compete for a championship. They are simply not in a position to win as many games as necessary to compete with a team like Golden State, but they will show enough improvement hearten even the most jaded fans.