With odds of 66/1 to win the NBA Championship and an over/under of just 32.5 wins, one would think that the Los Angeles Lakers are a bottom-feeder this upcoming season, but new acquisition, Carlos Boozer, doesn't think that's the case. Let's take and in-depth look at the new look Lakers.
With Kobe Bryant returning from injury, it would leave me to believe that this will be a much improved basketball team. Even at 36 years of age, Bryant is one of the greatest players in NBA history, has 5 NBA Titles under his belt and basically has had a year to rest a body that has a lot of mileage on it.
I expect Bryant to be less selfish this season as his body can't go at the rate that it has in the past. "When he's in the game, you'll see a lot of Steve Nash setting up Bryant where in the past, Bryant created his own shots. Age is a factor for both players as Nash is 40 and has been plagued by injuries since joining the Lakers. People believe that Nash is finished, but Carlos Boozer believes otherwise after practicing and playing with these two future hall of famers.
In a Los Angeles newspaper, Boozer stated that he's very impressed by Nash's court vision and decision making. Boozer also said that Nash is a great player and basically creates a perfect shot for his teammates. I can believe that from the Steve Nash that played with the Phoenix Suns and if that is the case, this team will surprise a lot of opposing teams. If Nash does all of the work for him, Boozer should be a much improved player from his time as a member of the Chicago Bulls.
With the loss of Pau Gasol, the Lakers needed to pickup a bigman that compete in the post and although he's over 30 years of age, Carlos Boozer fits the billing and still has a lot of basketball left in him. Boozer is basically a low double-double producer that's streaky and can occasionally put up a huge game. As a member of the Chicago Bulls, head coach Tom Thibideau sat Boozer in the 4th quarter a lot, but that won't happen in L.A. Boozer gives this team a much needed physicality that it's lacking,
Along side Boozer will be forward Jordan Hill. Hill's game had reached a higher level last season. The more playing time that he got, the more production that the Lakers received from him. There was no set spot for Hill in the lineup last season, therefore there aren't any consistent numbers, but you're looking at another double-double guy that actually brings some youth to this squad.
"Linsanity in Hollywood"
The Los Angeles Lakers get the perfect person in Jeremy Lin to relieve some pressure off of the 40 year old Nash's back and knees. "Linsanity" has finally hit Hollywood and Lin proved from his time with the Knicks that he's a pressure player. Without James Harden putting up half of the teams shots, Lin will get plenty of opportunities to showcase his offensive skills and amazing ability to pass the basketball. The one drawback to his game is the turnovers.
A Different Kobe Bryant?
I don't know if Bryant is capable of altering his game, taking less shots so he can preserve his health and get others involved, but we shall see. I do know one thing, other than Michael Jordan, there's nobody more competitive than Kobe Bryant.
His 5 World Titles can attest to that and Bryant will be in tip top shape to start the 14-15 campaign. If Bryant's body holds up, this team has the potential to make the playoffs. 32.5 wins is laughable as a future bet and I suggest that you jump on the over before it's too late.
Another addition to the Lakers squad is Julius Randle and at 19 years old, the 7th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft out of Kentucky is the future of this team. His career with U of K was short, but Randle was a double-double machine with Kentucky and he was a Naismith Semifinalist for player of the year; that speaks volumes and the Lakers grabbed a spectacular pick at number 7 in the draft.
When making your NBA picks for this season note this team can beat any team on any given day and are being underestimated. With Bryant back in the lineup, this isn't the inept team that we saw last season. Take the over for wins where future bets are concerned and we're going to see at least a .500 team here, if not better.