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It's Still Too Soon to Declare Lakers' Superstar Experiment a Failure

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 14:  Head coach  Mike D'Antoni of the Los Angeles Lakers motions from the bench as Kobe Bryant #24 comes up the floor against the Washington Wizards at Verizon Center on December 14, 2012 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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Zach BuckleyNational NBA Featured ColumnistDecember 18, 2012

With so many analysts piling on about the early failures of the 2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers, it bears mentioning that this team still has 57 games left on their schedule.

To already declare this team a failure is no more premature than the organization's decision to part ways with former coach Mike Brown just five games into the season.

Considering the offseason makeover given to L.A.'s roster (eight new players were brought in), this transformation wasn't going to happen overnight.

After adding Chris Bosh and LeBron James over the 2010 offseason, the Miami Heat dropped eight of their first 17 games. With Tyson Chandler added to the New York Knicks' recently formed duo of Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony in 2011-12, the team won just three of their first 11 games.

Considering the fact that the Lakers have already been without Steve Nash (leg), Steve Blake (abdomen) and Pau Gasol (knees), their struggles should be more expected than surprising.

But that's not how the vast majority of the media have presented the Lakers performance. In fact, Bill Ingram of hoopsworld.com suggested that L.A.'s struggles have signaled the beginning of the end for NBA superteams.

That's quite the scathing review for a team that's played all of one game with a full complement of talent. Never mind the fact that the variety in their starting lineup (11 players have started at least once) has been mirrored on their sideline (Mike D'Antoni is already this team's third coach).

There's a reason that the Lakers emerged from their fruitful offseason with championship talks overtaking Hollywood like another slew of eager actors-in-waiting.

The talent assembled on this roster hasn't disappeared; it's just been decimated by injuries.

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D'Antoni was brought in to oversee a unit led by his former protege, Nash. But the point guard has been absent from the Lakers rotation since fracturing his leg during the team's second game.

The offensive guru has attempted to institute his offensive system with the team's third and fourth options at the point guard position (Chris Duhon and Darius Morris). There isn't a team in the NBA who could find sustained success submerged that low on their depth chart.

And this hasn't even taken into account the fact that Dwight Howard is still far from a full recovery after undergoing back surgery in April 2012. The big man wasn't even supposed to be playing yet, and has still managed per game averages of 18.2 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.6 blocks.

Kobe Bryant has born more than his share of L.A.'s offensive responsibility because he's not yet sure of what his new teammates can bring. Howard's still adjusting to life as a secondary option. Duhon and Morris are fighting to keep pace with their sudden thrust of minutes. And D'Antoni is still discovering how to make all of these pieces fit.

Even with these hindrances, though, there have been some inexcusable losses. Despite their injury problems, the Lakers were still too talented to be losing to the likes of Portland, Orlando, Sacramento and Cleveland.

But it's time to place this rough patch in proper perspective, time to resurrect this club from the NBA obituaries.

With Gasol healthy enough for his return and Nash not far behind (according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com), the Lakers should be close to finally displaying where their talents can actually take them.

And don't be surprised when this club looks drastically different when that time comes.

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