Los Angeles Lakers Predictions

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LA Lakers Predictions

The Los Angeles Lakers went into the 2012-13 campaign with monster expectations. Not only did they land one of the top centers in the game in Dwight Howard, but they added veteran point guard Steve Nash to team up with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace.

What many thought would end in the Lakers celebrating another NBA championship, was a complete disaster from the start. Head coach Mike Brown was fired five games in to the regular season after a 1-4 start. Mike D’Antoni took over and needless to say things didn’t get a whole lot better.

The Lakers struggled to get above .500 most of the season, but would put together a little run to sneak into the playoffs as the 7th seed with an overall record of 47-35. Any hopes of this team making a deep playoff run were erased when Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles before the postseason even started. To no surprise, Los Angeles was swept in the first round by the Spurs.

Things went from bad to worse in the offseason when Dwight Howard decided not to re-sign and took his talents to Houston. It turned what could have been a promising season into what looks like a minor rebuilding phase.

Last Season
Pacific
Overall Record
ATS Record
Over/Under
Draft Grade
3rd
45-37
34-46-2
42-39
B
2013-2014 Depth Chart
Position Starter 2nd 3rd
Point Guard Steve Nash
Steve Blake Jordan Farmar
Shooting Guard Kobe Bryant
Jodie Meeks
Small Forward Nick Young
Wesley Johnson Shawne Williams
Power Forward Pau Gasol
Elias Harris Ryan Kelly
Center Chris Kaman
Jordan Hill Robert Sacre

The big question facing the Lakers is when will Bryant make his season debut and will he be the same dominating player that helped this franchise win 5 NBA titles. Bryant has made it clear he plans on being ready for the first game game, but hard to see him playing significant minutes early on.

One of the big problems this team had a year ago is they didn’t have a go-to-guy on the outside other than Bryant. You have to believe that’s where the addition of Nick Young comes into play. Young averaged 16.6 ppg a couple years ago with the Wizards, but you have to wonder if his lackluster defense will overshadow what he provides on the offensive side of the ball. The other newcomer the Lakers will be counting on is veteran center Chris Kaman, who has averaged double-figures in each of the last eight seasons, but has played more than 55 games just once in the last six years.

With Bryant figuring to take some time before he gets back to full strength, Los Angeles needs a lot more out of veteran point guard Steve Nash than they got a season ago. Nash averaged just 6.7 assists/game in his first year with the Lakers. That’s the fewest he’s averaged since becoming a full time starter with the Mavericks back in 1999-00. Big play will also be needed out of Pau Gasol, who despite his enormous amount of talent for a big man, can’t seem to shake the reputation of being soft.

Those of you who followed this team a year ago, know full well just how bad the Lakers reserves were. It doesn’t look a whole lot better in my opinion. Steve Blake, Jodie Meeks, Elias Harris, Jordan Hill and Jordan Farmar figure to fail miserably at sustaining any sort of lead the starters provide and ultimately cost this team several wins at seasons end.

Schedule Breakdown

If it wasn’t going to be hard enough for this team to bounce back from last year’s failure, a brutal schedule will make it that much more difficult. The Lakers have to play twice in the dreaded four games in five nights and only find one of their opponents all season in that spot. That’s not all that bad, but having to play 16 times in a back-to-back scenario against an opponent on at least one day of rest is, especially when Los Angeles only benefits in this spot eight times against an opposing foe.

The Lakers schedule advantage/disadvantage of -9 in these two categories is tied with the Kings for the worst in the league. To put it in perspective, the Chicago Bulls have the best aggregate of any team in the league at +11. What really hurts the Lakers is their two biggest threats in the Pacific, the Clippers (+9) and Warriors (+6), both rank inside the top 5 in ease of schedule.

Full Schedule: ESPN

Scheduling Advantage/Disadvantage
4-in-5 +/-
Rest vs No Rest +/-
Aggregate +/-
Ease of Schedule Rank
-1
-8
-9
29th
Odds (Courtesy of Bovada)
Over/Under Win Total
to Win the Western Conference
to Win the NBA Finals
36.5
16 to 1
33 to 1
Predictions

The fact that oddsmakers set the Lakers win total at 36.5 pretty much sums up what kind of year the Lakers’ faithful are in store for. Only nine other teams enter the 2013-14 season with a win total lower than Los Angeles. Luckily two of those teams are division rivals Phoenix (21) and Sacramento (31), but there will be no satisfaction in finishing 3rd in the Pacific. Even if the Lakers exceed expectations and surpass 36 wins, I can’t see them making a big enough jump to make the playoffs.

The only thing that could save this season, is if Bryant makes a Adrian Peterson like recovery from his Achilles injury and goes out and contends for MVP honors. It’s not out of the question, but logic says at 35 years of age, Bryant’s best days are behind him. However, you never know what you are going to get when you stack the odds against a future Hall of Fame player.

Another thing to keep in mind is that if the Lakers surprise early and find themselves in a legitimate spot to make the playoffs, there’s a good chance they will go out and make a big move before the trade deadline. Personally, I don’t believe this team will be able to contend with the Warriors and Clippers for a division title and will fail to make the postseason, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and slot them third and predict a little better finish than the experts are calling for.

Projections
Pacific Division Finish
Division Record
Overall Record
Win Total Projection
3rd
7-9
40-42
Over 36.5
Lakers Resources
More Lakers Predictions

More NBA Predictions

Eastern Conference
Atlantic
Knicks Celtics Nets 76ers Raptors
Central
Bulls Pacers Bucks Cavs Pistons
Southeast
Heat Hawks Magic Bobcats Wizards
Western Conference
Northwest
Thunder Nuggets Jazz Timberwolves Trail Blazers
Pacific
Lakers Clippers Warriors Suns Kings
Southwest
Spurs Grizzlies Mavericks Rockets Pelicans
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