Being the competitor that he is, it's easy to understand why Metta World Peace would want to aim so high. In a recent interview with with ESPN Radio, World Peace told reporters that the Lakers would aim to break the 1996 Bulls' 72-win record this year.
"We definitely want to beat the Bulls record and go 73-9," he said. "That’s definitely something that I want to do. Whoever is out there at the beginning of the season then we gotta get it. It’s as simple as that. We just have to go get it."
After the magnificent summer the Lakers had this year, it's easy to understand why any player (especially the outspoken Wold Peace) would predict record breaking performances. And to be frank, he might be on to something.
"With Dwight Howard, Nash, Kobe, myself, Pau and then Jamison and a lot of great additions it’s something that’s possible," World Peace continued.
The key word he used in that sentence was "additions."
Think about it: Without the prolific instant offense of Nash and Howard or the insurance of Meeks and Jamison, the Lakers were still able to win 62 percent of their games last year. With the "additions"of this past summer, the Lakers could potentially do more.
It's not impossible to consider when breaking down what the Lakers added this summer. The acquisitions included a former league leader in assists, a former league leader in free-throw percentage, a former league leader in rebounds, a former league leader in blocks, and a former league league leader in field goal percentage.
When putting those kinds of "additions" to a team that features a former league leader in points in Kobe Bryant, the Lakers have all the talent they need to outscore the opposition. Quite frankly, the Lakers are easily the true definition of instant offense. At least on paper, that's more than can be said about the 1996 Chicago Bulls.
But that's not the only addition the Lakers got this off-season. Trying to address their offensive struggles, the front office went ahead and hired former head coach Eddie Jordan to implement the Princeton Offense in the Lakers' system. The move received mixed criticisms from pundits and analysts, but the fact of the matter is that any system in the Lakers' offense is better than no system at all.
Kobe Bryant complained about the Lakers' lack of offensive rhythm in last year's offense. As Bryant has already suggested, the new system is much like the old championship-winning Triangle Offense. There is sufficient ball movement, player rotation, cuts, and scoring options.
In any case, this added offense will surely be a vast improvement from the stagnant system the Lakers ran last year that forced Kobe to shoot far too many contested jumpers. That "addition" will surely increase the number of games the Lakers can possibly win next year.
Aside from the acquisitions and implementations, people seem to forget that the Lakers already have a proven championship core in Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and, yes, Metta World Peace himself.
These are three players that already know what it's like to lead teams to victories and championships. After all, ever since the arrival of Pau Gasol, the Lakers have done nothing more than win.
Is World Peace correct in predicting a 73-win season for the Lakers?
In 2009, the Gasol and Bryant-led Lakers earned a total of 65 regular season wins. At least on paper, the 2013 squad is better and more offensively equipped than the 2009 team.
The 2009 team didn't have the luxury of Nash and his instant offense, nor did they posses Howard and his instant defense. Add these two to the mix of established winners, and that creates a mix of super stars with the potential to break more records than any previous Lakers' team.
World Peace agrees. He concluded his prediction by saying, "You try to snatch records before you leave this earth. You gotta try to do a lot of great things so it’s definitely a goal."
World Peace has had his share in far-fetched remarks, but this one could be right on the money. Even if the Lakers don't win 73, it wouldn't hurt to watch them try. A lot of credit has to be given to World Peace for his bold predictions and high standards. They could carry the Lakers pretty far next season.