The Lakers hit an all-time low as a franchise last season after finishing second to last in the Western Conference with a 27-55 record. On top of that, they recently lost future hall of fame point guard Steve Nash to a season ending back injury.
The Lakers did draft Kentucky big man Julius Randle and acquire Jeremy Lin to ease some of the tension, but they still have a long ways to go before contending.
Having said that, newly hired head coach and former "Showtime Lakers" member Byron Scott and a fresh crop of Lakers players will be looking to make some unexpected noise. Kobe Bryant, who was recently ranked as the 40th best player in the league by ESPN, will be looking to prove his naysayers wrong -- nothing new here -- the question is: how far can he take this unproven Lakers roster?
PG Jeremy Lin
SG Kobe Bryant
SF Wesley Johnson
PF Carlos Boozer
C Jordan Hill
G Nick Young
G Xavier Henry
G Jordan Clarkson
G Ronnie Price
G Wayne Ellington
F Ed Davis
F Ryan Kelly
C Robert Sacre
There will be three main storylines to look for this season: Bryant's health, Randle's rookie season and Lin's new beginning. Heading into a season where the outlook is at best looking towards making the playoffs, the Lakers will instead focus on player development, team chemistry and eventually, a vital offseason next year.
Another area to keep an eye out for will be Scott's first year as the Lakers head coach. The respect and love are obviously there for the beloved Laker, but the task at hand could create a sticky situation. Anything less of a .500 record -- even in the Western Conference -- and Scott could well be on the hot seat this time next year.
The Lakers have high hopes for Randle, who they drafted with the seventh pick in this year's draft. While the Kentucky big man won't be starting right away, the Lakers are looking to mold him into a future centerpiece.
Similar to NBA veteran Zach Randolph, Randle has the skill set and physical capabilities to mold into a formidable starter in this league. And while Randle has experienced a transitional period as rookie early on, the Lakers will be needing him to come into his own as quickly as possible.
Realistically, Randle will be the second or third man off the bench that will provide energy with his tenacious rebounding ability. Randle does have the ability to knock down the occasional jumper and that is something Bryant hopes to see improve throughout the season. The hype is there for Randle and it's going to be a matter of staying focused.
Being in the Western Conference does not help the Lakers' cause for sneaking into the playoffs. Having said that, the Lakers will certainly have a better year than they did last season.
For the Lakers, finishing with 40 wins and ranking around 10th in the Western Conference would be a success. This is likely their best case scenario unless they really overachieve with a redefined Bryant at the helm.
All-in-all, the Lakers will experience growing pains with a new coach, point guard and frustrated superstar whose very much injury prone. Making the playoffs is the goal, but it will be a stretch and half if they can manage to do so.
11) Detroit Pistons
12) Boston Celtics
13) Milwaukee Bucks
14) Orlando Magic
12) Phoenix Suns
13) Los Angeles Lakers
15) Utah Jazz
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