• Landon Buford

What We REALLY Can Expect From the Lakers

*Photo via Getty Images

Every team has dreams and aspirations of hoisting the Larry O'Brien Trophy at season's end. Some dreams are attainable, and others, aren’t an arm’s length away. From the looks of Kobe’s wingspan, another trophy looks slightly out of reach, just slightly. After winning the 2010 NBA championship, the Lakers have been on a downward spiral which probably reached its low point last season.

Since Dwight Howard, the anti-DeAndre Jordan, left California for Texas, the Lakers have been a bottom feeder in the Western Conference. However, an encouraging offseason could help the Lakers get out of their new found tune up game role. Okay guys relax, I said they’d be better, not championship contenders.

So let’s figure out some realistic expectations for this upcoming season.

Kobe Bryant:

*Photo via USA Today

I believe Kobe can still average 20 points, but at this stage in his career, I would like him to get his teammates more involved. Now that might asking a little too much, since Kobe has been an elite isolation player majority of his career. But now that efficiency has become a factor in judging on court performance, we now have a ton of data suggesting isolation ball is not effective. Getting his teammates more involved might extend his career a couple more years but that is wishful thinking on my part; after all, he is the all-time leader in missed field goals.

Jordan Clarkson:

*Photo via Getty Images

Jordan Clarkson will improve on his rookie campaign which saw him receive All-Rookie First Team honors while averaging 11.9 points, 3.9 boards and 3.5 assists. Future Hall of Famer and two time MVP guard Steve Nash said “Sky is the limit," in regard to Clarkson potential. And who am I to question one of the best. Bryant took Clarkson under his wing last season and the second year guard will surely enter the upcoming NBA season with some reverse pivots up his sleeve.

Julius Randle:

*Photo via AP

Julius Randle started off last season breaking his leg late in the fourth quarter of his first NBA game. Not quite the start anyone would want for their NBA career, but I think it’ll push the former first round pick to greater heights. His game reminds me a lot of bruiser Zach Randolph. Randle doesn’t have great lift, but is built like a tank, and does a good job getting his shot off. He has the potential to be a 20 and 10 a night type of player in the future.

Nick Young:

You know it’s bad when the first thought that pops into your head when you hear Swaggy P is either Iggy Azalea or his infamous failed Gilbert Arenas moment. Young needs to work on being an all-around player and focus on the defensive side of the ball. He can be a heat check guy, but Kobe could take a heat check shot every time down the court. Instead of being a Shaqtin’ A Fool feature every Thursday, Young needs to bring his natural scoring ability off the bench along with defense and playmaking. Small forward is the Lakers biggest hole, and Swaggy P plays that position, not a coincidence.

Roy Hibbert:

*Photo via AP

What in the world happened to Roy Hibbert? This guy was killing the LeBron James led Miami Heat just a couple of seasons ago. I mean he must still be decent right? The Indiana Pacers did give him a big contact for some reason. Big Roy needs to be a defensive savant for this Lakers team. At his peak Hibbert was a defensive force, it’s just that his peak didn’t last very long. The Lakers are hopeful he can return to some sort of prominence.

Lou Williams:

Remember all that stuff about Swaggy P providing scoring punch off the bench? F that. Lou Williams will repeat as Sixth Man of the Year and provide that scoring off the bench. Instant offense is a must in this league and the combination of Williams and Swaggy P (but mostly Williams) can light up the gym with the second unit. But Sweet Lou also needs to also improve on the defensive side of the ball.

Man I was harsh on Swaggy. For what it’s worth, I think he should’ve won over Iggy on Lip Sync Battle.

D’Angelo Russell:

*Photo via USA Today

Russell struggled during the summer league, but apparently he forgot to stretch. He’ll be good.

Where will the Los Angeles Lakers be at the end of the year?

So the Lakers can’t win the championship, but they have all the makings of a 7th or 8th seed in the West. A young and talented roster with decent pieces should be able to be in the playoff picture. Of course with the Lakers, it’s all about Bryant’s health. This may be Kobe’s swan song, and how sweet it would be to see the Mamba back in the playoffs.

Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com, NBA.com, ESPN.com

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