Strange Time in the Hollywood Hills: NBA Roundup 11-23
Kobe Bryant is coming back. You know it. I know it. Everyone does. It’s about the only season where his return from injury won’t be the most magnified due to Adidas, I mean Rose’s comeback (which is now over). However, NBA fans and Lakers fans alike shouldn’t be surprised when the Lakers come short of a playoff berth this season. At the end of last season they were left with an injured Kobe Bryant, an increasingly frustrated Dwight Howard, and their off season riding on his re-signing. With Howard darting to Houston, the Lakers were left with a thin crop of free agents and a new strategy: focus in on making a splash in the summer of 2014. For now, this Lakers team is relying on players who would typically be comfortably seated next to A-list celebrities watching the game. This team is led in scoring by Jody Meeks with 13.7 points per game (the lowest of any team’s leading scorer in the NBA) and calls upon players like Nick Young and Steve Blake to carry them. Pau Gasol and Steve Nash are painfully aging in front of our eyes and are not nearly the all-star players we have become accustomed to seeing. Even with Kobe back, this Lakers team has no depth whatsoever and can’t successfully ride a mid-30s Kobe (no matter how great he is) like they will try to.
Back to this upcoming summer.
This year’s NBA draft lottery is a once every 20 year type of class. You know the names: Wiggins, Randle, Parker, Gordon, Smart, the Harrison twins, Exum. It’s an absurd amount of talent; polished and raw at every position.
The NBA free agent class is the best we’ve seen since the one that changed the NBA forever three summers ago. This free agent class includes: LeBron, Melo, D-Wade, Bosh, Varejao, Bargnani, Amar’e Stoudemire, Zach Randolph, Dirk, Danny Granger, Rudy Gay and Luol Deng.
With a weakness at just about every position going forward, plenty of cap space and a lottery pick, there is just about no scenario in which the Lakers will not have a successful offseason.
Ideally for L.A., they will be able to lure one of Kobe’s closest friends Carmelo Anthony to join up the Lakers. This makes sense not only for the Lakers, which seriously lack a scoring punch, but for Carmelo on many fronts. He would be the face of the Lakers once Kobe retires, he has professed his love for playing in a big city and in L.A. he would face far less scrutiny than in New York with the same amount of exposure and fame. Not to mention their wives are apparently great friends and he owns a home in L.A. If they can add Carmelo along with a frontcourt player in the draft they can develop such as Willy Cauley-Stein or Joel Embiid, the Lakers will again be the main attraction in Los Angeles.
For now, the Lakers will have to endure another year in the unfamiliar but ever increasing shadow of the team in Los Angeles that is contending for a title: the Clippers.