Laker haters have waited nine long years, but the time to rejoice has finally come because the Los Angeles Lakers will not make the playoffs in 2013-14.
Here Are 5 Reasons Why the Lakers Won’t Make the Playoffs
Yes, that’s right. No, they won’t be going to the NBA Finals. After another soap operatic offseason befitting of LA, the Lakers are left in such a shambolic state that they cannot possibly squeak by again, especially amidst the very strong Western Conference.
While Kobe Bryant’s uncertain future is a big factor, it’s not the only problem facing the Lakers. In fact, there are five other reasons why this year’s playoffs will be Laker-free.
No more Dwight Howard
Lakers fans might not want to admit it, but the Lakers will sorely miss Dwight Howard. Despite his noticeably diminished play (which could have been due to offseason back surgery and a lingering shoulder injury), Howard still averaged 17 points and a league-leading 12 rebounds in 76 games.
With Howard now in Houston, the Lakers plan to replace Howard’s solid production with Chris Kaman (10 points, 4 rebounds in Dallas), Jordan Hill (returning from hip surgery) and Robert Sacre (played just over 200 minutes).
Say what you will about Howard, Lakers fans, but going from him to Kaman/Hill/Sacre at the pivot will be a colossal downgrade.
Mike D’Antoni is still the coach
Is it time to call Mike D’Antoni overrated yet?
Since his last season in Phoenix in 2007-08 when the Suns won 55 games, D’Antoni-led teams have finished with 32, 29, 42, 18 (in 42 games before resigning) and 40 (in 72 games) wins.
The cliché has always been that D’Antoni is an offensive guru who doesn’t coach defense, but at times the Lakers didn’t even seem to have a cohesive offensive system. Most possessions simply devolved into Kobe having to manufacture something by himself.
D’Antoni now faces the prospect of being without Kobe for an extended period of time, and if he struggles upon return the Lakers offense will have some major problems.
The West is deep
With more significant departures (Howard, Metta World Peace) than additions (Kaman, Nick Young, Wesley Johnson, Xavier Henry) to its roster, the Lakers don’t project to be much better than last season, when there were six playoff teams above them. Furthermore, some teams below them are likely to improve from last season.
The eighth seed Rockets, who were tied with the Lakers at 45-37, with Dwight Howard should overtake LA this season, which leaves the Lakers to fight for the last playoff spot.
Dallas, which will have a healthy Dirk Nowitzki to start the season, Portland, which finally got a legitimate NBA bench and the Wolves, with a motivated Kevin Love, will all challenge the Lakers for that 8th seed.
Age and injuries
Much like what the Celtics found out, banking on the health of three stars on the wrong side of 30 can be a dangerous thing. And unfortunately for the Lakers, they aren’t in the Eastern Conference.
Pau Gasol missed 33 games last season with knee injuries but with no dependable big men left after Howard’s departure, any injury to the Spaniard will be devastating. Steve Nash also missed 32 games, and things don’t figure to get better for the 40-year old as he registered his lowest PER since 2000 last season.
And of course, there is Kobe Bean Bryant.
As a 34-year-old, Kobe Bryant, in his 16th season in the NBA, the Lakers guard averaged 27 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists on 46% FG. But despite his all-around, MVP-calibre season, the Lakers still only finished 45-37 with Kobe at maximum efficiency.
Half a year and one Achilles injury later, can the Lakers realistically expect the same Kobe to almost single-handedly lift them to playoff contention again? Probably not.
Kobe’s Achilles and his doctors in Germany will tell you that the Mamba is indeed human. So if he experiences the expected drop in play from a 35-year old with almost 1500 games on his knees and coming off a major leg injury, the Lakers are surely not equipped to make the playoffs.