81 page, 81 points. I'm optimistic because we are the Lakers and algo because we have Kobe....
Ok, let's forget about that typical reason for a moment, just wanted to make a reference to the number of pages....
Honestly speaking, you'd have to put a blindfold to say that the 2013-2014 roster is better than the 2012-2013 roster. I really think those who think otherwise should really face it and admit it. We might not like Dwight Howard now that he was THE guy that has not chosen the Lakers even having more money, but it is true that Howard is a great talent in this league, even if he's not close to Shaq or Kareem. Dwight does make an impact with his game. Also, Clark did a terrific job when we gave him a chance, and while Jamison had his up-and-downs, he was very good for a minimum salary player. Our 2012-2013 roster was not good, it was great... or at least, it should have.
We lost Dwight Howard, Earl Clark, Metta World Peace and Antawn Jamison. Worst thing about that should be that that's a lot of defense we lost out there. That group of players is supposed to be clearly better than Wesley Johnson, Nick Young, Chris Kaman and Jordan Farmar.
But hey, I'm in the optimistic thread, and I'm posting all this bullpoop? Well, being optimistic doesn't mean to forget about reality, and having reality in mind, I want to express my optimism that may or may not go well.
The first reason I'm honestly optimistic is because we don't have Darius Morris and Chris Duhon. They just aren't on the team, which means that no matters what happens, they won't be getting playing time. Remember that time last season when our point guard rotation was Duhon and Morris? That fact that that won't happen really eases my heart. Not having that is a great improvement.
Another reason I'm optimistic is because I don't think we'll be worse with injuries, at least. Last year was a nightmare, an nightmare which seems to have no ending. While I do expect to have some injuries, I don't think it will be as bad as last year, and this is HUGE. People seem to be underestimating how good a healthy core of Kobe, Nash and Pau would be. Even if we don't have a better roster, we rarely saw the complete roster, actually, we were lucky if we had half of its core semi-healthy.
Related with my previous point, we're now younger, we're a lot younger. After some years, we finally have a group of young players, and even better, we have young players who really wants to play here. We will be mad when Farmar and Young start shooting bricks watching just the basket, but they should also provide energy, and while not being great defenders, they can at least put some good effort on it. Also, we have Kobe AND Nash to control the pace of the game and the young guys if they start kind of losing control.
While I loved Metta and what he did for this team, he was getting worse every year. He has a good, well earned, reputation on defense, but truth is he didn't defend that much last season save for some specific moments. Most importantly, he really killed our offense A LOT. He missed way too many open shots, which led to opponent's defense to almost completely ignore him, and that, of course, made things more difficult to the rest of the team, specially to Kobe, who pretty much always was the one who got an extra defender on him. Even more, him getting the ball usually killed every ball movement, he took horrible shots and made awful moves with his "dribbling".
As we all know, losing Dwight should improve the team chemestry a lot. Also they'll want to prove they don't need Dwight, I'm pretty sure they will because I think almost no one on this team really liked Dwight, or so it seems. Also, while we did lose Dwight Howard, he never was much of "Dwight Howard" with us, and more than injury-related, I think it was a thing of mentality, save for some occasions, his head just wasn't in the game, and while he was still one of the better centers (that's how talented he is), he was far from a dominant player... he really didn't make that much in either side of the court on a consistent basis. True, I don't expect Pau to defend better, actually, I expect worse, but I do think the damage won't be as big as it is made out to be.
While Kobe loves the pressure, I think it will be good for our team that, for the first time in years, we have almost no pressure on our team. We're not even expected to make the Playoffs by many. I think this can really fuel some of our players. We know play with a "show them they're wrong" mentality, not trying to live to some very high expectations. It's usually easier in the first case.
Yes, I also would have loved to have Phil Jackson, and there are A LOT of coaches I'd pick over Mike D'Antoni, but it's also true that Mike D'Antoni is not just an idiot who pretends to know basketball. He is still an upgrade from Mike Brown, and honestly speaking, he was put on a VERY difficult situation last season. He was given an injury-ridden team that had an awful chemistry situation and wasn't good at running the offense he's more used to run (sorry Jim, but that's on you, not on the guy who accepted the job). Mike D'Antoni didn't make a great job improving this things, but even if it took some time, he did began to adjust the offense to his roster, and you could see that in the big improvement we had. Things start clicking little by little until injuries decided to give one final devastating blow. While I don't expect D'Antoni to be a Greg Popovich, he should do a fairly decent job having time to prepare beforehand and with the experience gained from last season
Related with the Dwight Howard and the Mike D'Antoni point, I do expect a better season from Pau Gasol. While he might not be a 2010 Pau Gasol, he should do a much better job. At the end of the season, when he was finally healthier, we could see that Mike D'Antoni was starting to use him a little bit better. Without Dwight, using Pau well will be a lot easier. Pau is a GREAT help offensively when he's confortable. While he can't jump over an ant, he still have great post moves and we all know he's an incredible passer.
Sure, our defense will be awful, but it's not like it wasn't awful last year. I don't think it'll be much worse, honestly. Actually, I'll be the weird guy who thinks it might actually improve a little bit. While our defenders are worse, I think they will put more effort on D than players last year. We all know that most of the time, effort just wasn't there on D. Guys like Wesley Johnson should really help with this.
I think comparisons between this roster and the one from last year might become a good lesson of why having a good NBA 2K roster doesn't mean a team is better. Our roster might be worse, but I really feel this team could be better.
Oh, and this might not be optimistic for some of you, but Lakers don't tank. They just don't do it. Last time we got a franchise player via draft (with a pick of our own) was Jerry West in 1960, and even then we made the Playoffs the year before (though, admittedly, with a terrible record). I don't know how many of the guys here are from the Lakers because they're from L.A., but a lot of us are not even american, so we didn't become Lakers fans because they're from L.A., we become Lakers fans because of their great players and traditions and, most of all, we became Lakers fans for life because of that winning mentality, because they are the ONE team that never tanks, that always give all they got in a season, even if they don't have much to give. Because of this, a lot of people from very very faraway have become even more Lakers fans than some fans from L.A. Let's not lose that mentality thinking about tanking, It just isn't us.