Lakerjones wrote:^^ I agree with realdeal there. Believe me, I'm not trying to be a downer, but I don't think this team is as good as last year's at all. I think the TEAMWORK is much improved from last season. In a huge way. And we got a nice infusion of young talent. But last year's team IF healthy would have been a contender to make the Finals especially with OKC hurting without Westbrook. This team is going to be contending for the 7th or 8th spot, IF we are healthy. It's a huge difference. Yes, we ended up there with the most injury riddled season I've ever seen for the Lakers, but that's now what we're shooting for with this team. So I think the goal for this team is just to be better than expected and I think they can do that if they stay relatively healthy this year. I still see this team potentially struggling to end the season over .500 depending on when they get Kobe back and depending on the level Kobe is able to play at. I don't think they will surpass OKC, Spurs, GS, Houston, Clips, Memphis in terms of regular season record. They'll be fighting it out with Denver, Dallas, Portland, Utah.
I can't totally agree with all that.
First, I'll say that health (and possibly a full training camp) is the biggest factor determining this year's success IMO. But assuming that Kobe comes back healthy, I think we've upgraded in some significant ways. Losing Dwight's numbers and defense hurts, but I attribute most of the problems with him in LA to him not being a perfect fit with Gasol and the rest of the team. Pau is a center. He can shoot from 15 so every coach tries to have him do that, but it's not his natural instinct. He's best on the block with his back to the basket, where he can see the court, pass, or shoot as the situation requires. We've tried the twin towers role before. Bynum and Gasol and then Dwight and Gasol, and it's the same every time. Defensively it's good, but offensively they get in each other's way. Gasol needs room to operate down low. That's a large reason why he and Odom worked so well together. Odom slashed, and spaced the floor with 3's while Gasol operated in the paint. We have the potential for something similar with Gasol and Williams. Make no mistake, Williams is not as good all around as LO was, but he can shoot about as well, and he will draw his man away from the basket. We also don't have a baby crying for the ball all the time and pouting when he doesn't get touches anymore. I think we're going to see Gasol shine again this season with some added space to operate.
Help defense? We lost Dwight's basket protection, but we gained better/younger perimeter defenders. Artest's hands and strength were incredible, but his feet were stuck in the mud as he got older, and he couldn't keep quicker players in front of him. Same with Jamison. Clark was good, but I think switching out he and Williams will be a wash defensively. We didn't win the lottery with an incredible upgrade defensively, but I'm convinced we've upgraded in man defense guarding quick players compared to last year. We now have a good mix of old and young. I expect to not get run out of buildings as often, and to have players recover through screens a lot faster, hopefully somewhat softening the blow of no longer having that last line of defense (although Gasol is no slouch at challenging shots). Plus we finally have a good defensive coach with a concrete plan in getting Rambis back. That is huge IMO.
And if our second unit consists of Farmar, Blake, and Young, I expect to finally have fast break potential again. We had none of that last year, and I expect to see quite a bit of it if Farmar is in the game.
I think we've improved overall, but our fate will really be up to the god Achilles.