NBA Season Wrap Up: LA Lakers
Los Angeles Lakers:
Everyone knows what happened. The Lakers were a monster on paper and flopped during the season. Kobe Bryant brought them to playoffs but suffered a torn achilles and tweeted during playoff games instead of playing.
The real story of the Lakers season is that they didn't play defense in 2012-13. Dwight Howard's teams have always played defense at an elite level, but this year, under Mike D'antoni, the Lakers defense allowed 101 points per game, 22nd best in the league and just looked lazy on that end of the floor. On offense, thanks to Mr. Bryant, LA scored 102.2 points per game, good for sixth in the NBA.
The Lakers future has more questions than answers: will Dwight re-sign? Will Kobe ever be the same player again? What's the deal with Steve Nash going forward?
Lakers fans have to understand that there will be questions but they need to have some patience. They are the Lakers -- they'll be fine. Howard has indicated that he wants to remain a Laker and play with Kobe again, and if he can play like he did at times down the stretch, the rebuilding process (if that's what you want to call it) won't be so bad. The only Laker under contract past next season is Nash, so they have the flexibility to totally build around their center.
It's impossible to say what they need to do because there could be so much turnover in the next year or two and the team has no real direction at the moment. But by looking at how Dwight has been successful before, it's clear they need to let him dominate the low block and surround him with shooters and capable guards that can get him the ball.
Those Magic teams that went deep in the playoffs had guys like Jameer Nelson, Michael Pietrus, JJ Redick, Rashard Lewis, and Vince Carter hitting three pointers right and left. In 08-09, Orlando attempted the second highest number of threes and in 09-10 they led the league. There are shooters available this summer like Kyle Korver that can help space the floor for the 2013-14 Lakers and let them focus on their inside game.
And with Pau Gasol, who will be 33 next season, they still have a potent 1-2 big man combination that are able to dominate games.
I expect the Lakers not to make big moves besides re-signing Howard in anticipation of the 2014 offseason when Kobe and Pau come off the books. There have been rumors that they might go after LeBron in 2014 so this summer will be about establishing the team's identity and preparing for the future.
In addition to Howard, Earl Clark, Antawn Jamison, Jodie Meeks, and Metta World Peace are all unrestricted free agents and Devin Ebanks, Andrew Goudelock, Darius Morris, and Robert Sacre are restricted free agents. Get ready for some serious turnover this summer, Lakers fans.