The Los Angeles Lakers have Kobe Bryant in their lineup again, hoping to get the most out of him in his return from an injury. However, their NBA odds for regular season are quite low. They’ll need a lot of help to make the playoffs this season and get over the set number.
2014-15 Regular Season Total: 33.5
Why the Lakers Will Go Over the Number
Kobe Bryant is a superstar, and superstars remain superstars even though they get older. The body might lose something in terms of explosiveness and power, but the mind of the superstar athlete still operates at a higher level than the other players on the court. The good news is that Bryant won’t be doing this alone and he should have plenty of veteran help. Although the Houston Rockets didn’t want Jeremy Lin, the Lakers will happily take him as an upgrade at point guard. He averaged 12.5 points per game and 4.1 assists in limited minutes last season. If he’s used better, maybe he regains his superstar form from a couple of seasons ago. Also, the Lakers picked up Carlos Boozer, who was cast off from the Chicago Bulls. Although maligned, he’s a solid started who averaged 13.7 PPG and 8.3 RPG last season as he was being phased out of the rotation. He’ll be able to chew up a lot of the minutes left vacant by the departure of Pau Gasol.
The Lakers also spent a high draft pick on Julius Randle, who offers plenty of upside, and they still have guys like Nick Young, Steve Nash and Jordan Hill.
The truth of the matter is that even without Bryant, the Lakers were 11th in scoring at 103 points per game. With Bryant, they’ll be Top 10. Now if Byron Scott can help this team improve its defense, which ranked 29th (109.2), then the Lakers will be in good shape to go over. He’s talked about bringing the defensive focus back and if he can, this team can win 40 games.
Why the Lakers Will Stay Under the Number
The Lakers just don’t have much of anything beyond Kobe. It’s a grim thing to say, but it’s true. Gasol has moved on to the Bulls, removing this team’s experienced low-post threat. Randle will become a new operator on the block for this team but he’s going to have to grow into his role and require a lot of on-the-job training. The speed of the professional game is going to be something Randle will find challenging. At the point, the Lakers have Lin, who might not be a disaster, but he’s had a difficult time making plays for Houston in the Western Conference playoffs against the Portland Trail Blazers. Lin is a far cry from the player who starred for the Knicks. He has regressed, and NBA teams have figured him out as well. Kobe is going to be on an island this season. There’s just not much of any support for him to lean on.
On top of that, the team’s defense is brutal. It’s one thing for Scott to preach defense but Bryant is the team’s best defender but he might be the only one. Lin is a liability and the defensive-minded Bulls never trusted Boozer. Young and Nash won’t bring the defense, and there’s no rim protector on this team.
NBA Pick: Under 33.5