The Los Angeles Lakers looked like anything but champions during their beatdown at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks last spring. Combine their loss to the Mavericks with the retirement of Phil Jackson, and it’s not crazy to be worried about the immediate future of the Lakers.
However, all of the worrying could be greatly exaggerated.
This article will look at five reasons why the Lakers should be favored to take the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference next season.
When the lockout ends, the team will presumably make some minor, yet needed, roster tweaks.
Assuming upper management makes the “right” moves to accommodate the strengths of the team, the Lakers could end up being the preseason favorites to win the conference.
After being dismantled by the Dallas Mavericks in the playoffs last spring, the Los Angeles Lakers will begin a season without being the defending champions for the first time since 2008.
The team will hopefully use the sour tastes in its mouth left by the Mavericks as motivation to regain Western Conference supremacy.
While it may not be safe to think the Lakers will be as good as they have in the past, it may be too early to count a team with so much championship experience out, especially with a chip on its shoulder.
One theory as to why the Los Angeles Lakers fizzled out in their quest to win three straight championships was they were physically and mentally burned out after three consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals.
Well, the Lakers cannot use that excuse anymore. Kobe Bryant and the Lakers have had an extended break for the first time since the summer before the 2007-08 season.
This should bode well for a team filled with so many sets of creaky legs.
If Andrew Bynum picks up where he left off last season, the Lakers will be in good shape to be atop the Western Conference standings at the end of the season.
After the All-Star break, Bynum played spirited basketball on the defensive end of the court, averaging 12 rebounds and over two blocks a game, leading the team to a 17-1 record in its first 18 games after the break.
Even in the midst of the team’s meltdown in the playoffs, Bynum averaged a respectable 14 points and nearly 10 rebounds.
Barring another setback due to injury, signs definitely point to Bynum having a memorable 2011-12 campaign.
During their run to back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010, the Los Angeles Lakers’ biggest advantage was their three-headed frontcourt monster of Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom.
This should not change going forward. As I mentioned above, Bynum could be due for a monster season, and despite suffering through a playoff slump, Gasol was named to the All-NBA Second Team for the first time in his career, in addition to Odom winning the Sixth Man of the Year Award.
Also, the three frontcourt members aren’t nearly as close to applying for their AARP cards as some members on the team are.
Thus, if the Lakers do indeed end next season with the top seed in the Western Conference, you can bet their dominating frontcourt will have something to do with it.