Los Angeles Lakers Predictions: Complete Stat Projections for Lakers Starters
While many believed the Lakers roster would improve mightily during the offseason, the opposite has unfortunately taken place.
The Lakers traded one of their best players, Lamar Odom, to the rival Dallas Mavericks. By doing so, the team lost one of its biggest advantages: size.
In addition, the team has yet to solve its issues at the point guard position—37-year-old Derek Fisher, often ineffective Steve Blake and rookie Darius Morris are all they have.
Clearly, the Lakers have even more questions to answer than answers themselves, and it will be up to new head coach Mike Brown to discover the answers regarding the Lakers lineup.
Already, it has been made evident that the Lakers’ starting lineup will consist of Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Matt Barnes, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.
But how will each of these players statistically contribute to the team’s success in this year's shortened NBA season?
This is a question that no one can clearly answer, not even Mike Brown.
One can only predict.
I have taken the challenge upon myself, and I have predicted the statistical performance of each of the Lakers’ starters here.
Enjoy, and let your opinions be heard.
Although Derek Fisher hasn’t been able to thoroughly prepare for the upcoming NBA season, Mike Brown plans to make him the Lakers' starting point guard because he "fits better with the starting group."
Fisher has played in every game for the past six seasons, but I expect this trend to come to a halt—there will be times when the Lakers will play three nights in a row, and I expect an aging Fisher to miss a game here and there.
Steve Blake and Darius Morris will be able to fill in for him when needed.
Additionally, over his career, Fisher has benefited greatly from the Lakers’ triangle offense.
This season, however, Brown doesn’t plan to use this system, which is why I believe Fisher’s production will decrease slightly.
With Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum dominating the paint, Fisher will continue to get his fair share of open looks nonetheless.
Clearly, Kobe Bryant is not what he used to be.
Although he has had plenty of time to recover from his various injuries during the prolonged offseason, Bryant is probably going to miss a few games because of the rigor of this year’s schedule.
However, he won’t miss too many games—with the Western Conference getting stronger, the Lakers need Bryant in order to make the playoffs.
Bryant averaged 25.3 PPG last season, and I expect his scoring drop slightly, mostly because the offense will be run mostly through Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.
Nonetheless, Bryant will get his opportunities in the Lakers' new offense—he'll post up at times, and he'll be able to get to his sweet spots.
Instead of scoring more, I expect Bryant to become more of a facilitator because of his limitations.
Furthermore, Bryant will continue being one of the best defensive players in the game—he’ll continue to lead his team in steals per game.
In place of Metta World Peace, Matt Barnes is expected to start for the Lakers at the small forward position.
Barnes hasn’t played a full season at all during his career, which is why I believe he’ll miss a few games this year.
Barnes will not be expected to score much, but he will be efficient.
Barnes has improved his three-point shooting during the offseason, and his enhancements will be evident this season.
His main role, nonetheless, will be to provide some energy to the starting lineup, which the Lakers desperately need.
Pau Gasol has been criticized since his disappearance in the 2011 NBA playoffs.
This season, Gasol will have to prove that he is still among the best power forwards in the league, and I believe he’ll do that under Mike Brown’s "twin tower" offensive system.
His scoring and rebounding will improve, and he’ll be consistent—a quality that he has possessed throughout his career.
Gasol’s assist numbers will increase slightly too—he’ll have numerous opportunities to dish it out to open shooters after demanding the double-team in the post.
I don’t expect Brown to utilize Gasol from the three-point line too much, but he’ll connect on the few opportunities that he has—he might make five of 10 during the season.
I expect this season to be Andrew Bynum’s best.
Mike Brown’s new offensive system is perfect for Bynum—in the 34 minutes that he is expected to play, Bynum’s production will increase, and he’ll average a double-double.
However, Bynum’s success and contributions to the team will be limited.
Even though Bynum has stated that his “knees feel very good,” there is still no doubt that he is injury-prone. Because of this and the fact that the schedule is so demanding, he’ll definitely miss quite a few games in addition to the five games he’ll miss due to suspension.