Now that the NBA lockout appears to be over, we can focus on what fans really want to talk about: season previews, on-court chatter and, for Lakers fans, how to forget about last season’s disappointing exit in a four-game sweep to Dallas.
The Lakers are in regrouping mode because 2011-12 could be either a last stand or a team in transition. With Mike Brown as head coach, the team will have a greater emphasis on defense, but the pieces he is working with are either still sharp or need to be fired up.
Kobe Bryant still had an All-NBA-caliber season last year, although you can debate whether he should have been on the first or second team. There’s no doubt that Bryant will continue at that level in 2011-2012, as he is healthy after offseason knee surgery.
Lamar Odom had possibly the best season as a reserve (14.4 PPG), capped off by him winning the Sixth Man of the Year award while setting career highs in field-goal and three-point percentage. His key will be to remain consistent.
Derek Fisher will be counted on for his usual leadership, but you can expect him to be rusty after spending the offseason front and center at the negotiation table.
If the Lakers are to make one last run at an NBA title, here are my five players who need to take their games up a notch.