Areas of Strength
This is still a team capable of doing damage with a very good starting lineup -- if. If Dwight Howard re-signs, if Kobe Bryant recovers quickly, if Steve Nash remains healthy, if Pau Gasol delivers positive results for longer stretches. It's unusual to talk about a veteran team reaching its potential, but the Lakers rarely are about the usual.
The Lakers are very thin, and that's the best-case Lakers with Bryant, Howard, Nash and Gasol. If anyone from that group, or amnesty candidate Metta World Peace, is gone or injured, reinforcements better be ready. That was rarely the case last season. L.A. will undoubtedly add veterans on the cheap as win-now mode continues in 2013-14, but it needs more than recognizable names to have a realistic chance at a playoff run.
Two Stats That Matter
3 -- Permanent coaches in the last three seasons, a pace once impossible to imagine for the Lakers.
32 -- Games Steve Nash missed, more than the previous seven seasons combined.
The Way To Go
The search for athleticism continues. But as has been the case for years, the help won't come in the draft unless the Lakers add a high pick -- they have not made a first-round selection to keep it since 2007. Choosing in the 40s is pretty typical. So is having to trouble-shoot via free agency and trades.
2012-13 Team Stats (points per 100 possessions, with NBA rank)
Offensive: 105.6 (8th)
Defensive: 103.6 (19th)
G: Steve Blake
G: Kobe Bryant
G: Chris Duhon
F: Pau Gasol
F: Jordan Hill
G: Jodie Meeks (team option)
G: Steve Nash
F: Metta World Peace (early termination)
F: Earl Clark (unrestricted)
G: Devin Ebanks (restricted)
G: Andrew Goudelock (restricted)
C: Dwight Howard (unrestricted)
F: Antawn Jamison (unrestricted)
G: Darius Morris (restricted)
C: Robert Sacre (restricted)
Recent Draft History
2012: Robert Sacre (60)
2011: Darius Morris (41), Andrew Goudelock (46), Ater Mojak (58)
2010: Devin Ebanks (43), Derrick Caracter (58)
2009: Toney Douglas (29), Patrick Beverley (42), Chinemelu Elonu (59)
2008: Joe Crawford (58)
-- Scott Howard-Cooper