With 16 championships, the Lakers are one of the most successful franchises in the league’s history, and since their inception in 1948, they have missed the playoffs just five teams; an astounding feat.
But the burden of such success is high expectations, and the Lakers haven’t won a title since their repeat seasons of 2009 and 2010. Los Angeles may be the only NBA city in which that can be considered a drought.
Since then, the Lakers have been eliminated in the conference semi-finals twice, and last year they were swept in the first round. That’s a troubling pattern for a proud team like the Lakers, and they want to turn it around this year.
Odds To Win Championship: 75/1
Key #1: Kobe Bryant
There aren’t many players in NBA history who have made an impact like Kobe Bryant has.
For nearly two decades he has been one of the league’s top players and biggest names. But even the best athletes can’t be dominant forever, and at 35, Bryant is certainly closer to the end of his career than the beginning.
If he retired tomorrow, Bryant would be celebrated as one of the league’s all-time best, and certainly one of the Lakers franchise’s most impactful players. But he hasn’t made any noise about retiring, so the Lakers can continue to enjoy his contributions.
He’s not the dominant star he once was, and he’s coming off an Achilles tendon injury, but he’s still one of the better players in the game and he’s going into a contract season. He’s also likely to be very motivated to bring the Lakers back to prominence. He’ll need to deliver a top flight effort to make that happen.
Key #2: Strong efforts from veterans
Bryant is hardly the only NBA veteran the Lakers have on their roster. Steve Nash is nearing the age of 40 and is clearly winding down. But he has made an impact in his short time with the Lakers and is still one of the most capable guards in the game. If he can continue to develop his rapport with Bryant and the other offensive weapons the Lakers possess, that will go a long way in making his team one to watch this season.
Pau Gasol is heading into a contract season like Bryant. He’s also the oft-repeated subject of trade rumors. He’ll need to either eliminate those distractions or use them as motivation this season.
Big contributions from their veteran core is a must for the Lakers this year if they want to accomplish anything come playoff time.
Key #3: Stay healthy
Every sports team must battle injuries, but the Lakers seem to be uniquely snake bitten in this regard of late. Bryant is coming of an injury, and Chris Kaman got banged up on the Great Wall of China of all places. They need to stay on the court if they’re to have a good season.
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