Despite reports to the contrary the Los Angeles Lakers had a productive off-season. The desire and effort to improve is evident. The Lakers were ridiculed for having money to spend and not landing one of the top free agents on the market. As a matter of fact the list of top available free agents read LaMarcus Aldridge, Demarcus Cousins, DeAndre Jordan, Kevin Love, Jimmy Butler, David West, Draymond Green and Paul Pierce among others.
All of these NBA veterans are talented players that would make an impact on any team, but with all due respect none of them are what you would call landscape changing additions. To put it differently by having this player on your team makes your team a championship contender. The Lakers were able to secure the services of the law firm of Hibbert, Williams & Bass. The additions are far from emphatic fist-pump worthy breaking news; although the law firm does provide the Lakers with 27 years of NBA experience. In the 2015 NBA draft the Lakers landed point guard D’Angelo Russell, power forward Larry Nance Jr. and small forward Anthony Brown.
Recently, ESPN released their Summer forecasts for the 2015 – 2016 NBA season, which placed the Lakers 14th in the Western Conference with a record of 26-56, a mere five win improvement over their 2014-2015. Not exactly what the purple and gold faithful want to hear coming off of a 21-61 record, worse in franchise history. Putting things in proper perspective, the Western Conference is loaded, five or more teams will win 55+ games and at least seven playoff slots are already locked up.
When you discuss the Western Conference playoffs teams, the contenders, in no particular order 1) Golden State Warriors 2) San Antonio Spurs 3) Oklahoma City Thunder 4) Memphis Grizzlies 5) L.A. Clippers 6) Houston Rockets 7) New Orleans Pelicans 8) Dallas Mavericks. The Lakers are no match for the above mentioned playoff teams in a post-season series and it is debatable to state, with certainty, that the Lakers can beat or are simply better than the Portland Trailblazers, Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Timberwolves, Utah Jazz or Sacramento Kings today. The Lakers have the talent to exceed ESPN’s Summer Forecasts and win 30-35 games.
The Lakers are moving in the right direction and have more talent on their roster than last year. The purple and gold has a good mix of veterans and young players. The Los Angeles Lakers do not have the look of a playoff team in the stacked Western Conference however, this is where the challenge of making the playoffs when no one thinks you can comes into play. Realistically, the purple and gold can score and the bench play should improve, but the key to the 2015-2016 season for the Los Angeles Lakers is developing.
Los Angeles’ first NBA team must build and develop team chemistry, develop their young players and get them acclimated to the NBA game, develop and define their identity as a team and become a better defensive team. The challenge for Coach Byron Scott and staff, get everyone to buy into a team philosophy, improve defensively with Roy Hibbert as the anchor of the defense and a presence in the painted area blocking, challenging and changing shots. When and if these tasks are accomplished the Lakers could have a shot at battling for the eighth and final playoff spot.