The 2012-13 campaign was a grand disappointment for the Los Angeles Lakers.
On paper it seemed like they had a team worthy of competing for an NBA title. It's easy to forget that the way people think of the Miami Heat right now is the way a lot of them thought about the Purple and Gold a mere six months ago.
It's going to be a crucial offseason for the Lakers, who will look to re-tool a roster that failed to live up to expectations this past year. Here are the two biggest issues they must address:
Obviously, the most important issue going into next season is how to keep the offense afloat without Kobe Bryant in the lineup for who knows how long.
Everything revolves around Bryant on the offensive end for L.A. According to NBA.com, the Lakers produced 107.4 points per 100 possessions with Bryant on the court, and just 99.7 points per possession with Bryant off the court.
That's roughly the difference between Denver's fifth-ranked offense and Minnesota's 25th-ranked offense.
Also, keep in mind that the figure quoted above includes games where Bryant was on the active roster. A lot of times teams would rest their top defenders when Bryant was out of the game, allowing the Lakers on the floor to go against weaker defensive units.
So it's no surprise that the offense has been even worse since Bryant was ruled out for the remainder of the season.
Sadly, that level of efficiency sparkles when compared to the putrid 92.4 points points per 100 possessions they have posted over the first three games of the postseason.
Of course, small sample size caveats apply, but anyone who has seen the Lakers play since Bryant went down has witnessed how agonizing each possession is for the Lakers. The offense has no flow and L.A. has no idea where to go with the ball in crunch time.
Dwight Howard is not a go-to No. 1 option and Steve Nash is way past the point of being able to carry an offense on his back. Pau Gasol has been posting triple-doubles right and left over the last several contests, but his shooting percentage has plummeted and he still isn't being optimally deployed by Mike D'Antoni.
Although the defense is stingier overall without Bryant (playoffs notwithstanding), the hit that the offense takes more than offsets the gains made on that end of the floor.
Somehow, the Lakers have to find a way to fill the scoring void left by Bryant.
The Lakers are old and slow.
I'm sick of hearing it and you are too, but that doesn't make it any less true—or any less of a problem.
Despite fielding a roster appropriate for a weekend YMCA run, D'Antoni insists on playing uptempo. To that end, the Lakers were fourth in the league in pace, meaning they intentionally played a style that didn't best suit their abilities.
Los Angeles repeatedly got beat in transition, and gave up the second-most fast break points in the league. They consistently gave up remarkably easy coast-to-coast layups in transition, even after made baskets.
It doesn't help things that they're not deep enough to bring in fresh legs off the bench to keep up the pace, the way a team like the Nuggets does. According to HoopsStats, the Lakers' bench had the second-lowest scoring output of any reserve unit.
The only second unit player to sport a positive plus-minus rating for the Lakers was Jodie Meeks, per 82games.com.
Due to L.A.'s bloated payroll, finding competent guys to add youth and depth to the roster will be a near impossible task in free agency.
Here's where trading a big piece (like Gasol) for an assortment of smaller pieces could be the Lakers' best option.
Whatever may come, it's going to be a very interesting offseason in Laker Land.