Forget talk today of a title run; the Los Angeles Lakers face formidable odds merely trying to make the playoffs.
At 12-14, they'll need to go 36-20 the rest of the way just to get to 48 wins and a probable postseason berth.
Nothing is impossible, but L.A. certainly has dug a deep hole to start the season.
They've looked nothing like the team that formed this summer in one of the Lakers' best offseasons in history. Who wouldn't be giddy with anticipation, knowing that L.A. had just traded for Steve Nash and Dwight Howard?
But for L.A. to secure both Nash and Howard felt like the city of Los Angeles had just won Super Lotto in a scratch off. Lakers fans pinched themselves so much this summer they needed extra time with their therapists.
In Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Howard and Nash, the Lakers suddenly had four starters most likely headed to the Hall of Fame when their careers were over.
Little did anyone see the gut-wrenching roadblocks and sheer bad luck that would be tossed in their collective paths as summer turned to fall and training camp turned into a trip to the dark side.
From Mike Brown and the Princeton offense to Mike D'Antoni and the seven-second offense for old guys, the Lakers have not had much time to settle in and get comfortable with each other. And now the pressure is really on.
As Nash prepares to return to action, the time for the Lakers to find themselves and start their mad dash to the playoffs and beyond is now. They have their work cut out for them—let's look at what's most important for L.A. to be a factor come April.