The Lakers have been a sleeping giant in the Western
Conference the past two seasons, playing well below their franchise
standards. The Lakers, who are used to setting the pace in the West,
have been snuffed during free agency, leaning on the brittle body of
Kobe Bryant, and fielding a lineup of relative unknowns.
Will that brief hiccup in the franchise’s history right itself this
offseason? The Lakers started on the right foot by scoring the No. 2
overall pick in the NBA Draft and subsequently selecting Ohio State
star freshman D’Angelo Russell. They also added Larry Nance Jr., son of
NBA great Larry Nance, from Wyoming in the second round of the draft,
giving L.A. a youth movement in the frontcourt along with last year’s
top pick Julius Randle, who missed all of last season after breaking
his right tibia in the 2014-15 opener.
Those 2015 draft picks may be in purple and gold
come October, and they may not, depending on how much wheeling and
dealing Los Angeles wants to do this offseason. There are plenty of
All-Stars rumored to be on the trade block, like Sacramento’s DeMarcus
Cousins, and also some massive names on the free agent market, such as
Kevin Love, Jimmy Butler and LaMarcus Aldridge, who all have buzz
building in La-La Land. If you’re doing some basketball betting online
this summer, you may be able to scoop up value on the Lakers’ futures
before a deal goes down, so pay close attention to the rumor mill.
Of course, the big question hanging over the Lakers in 2015-16 is
Bryant’s supposed swan song. The future Hall of Famer has played just
41 games the past two seasons due to multiple injuries and has told the
organization that this will be his final season.
Bryant hurt the Lakers as much as he helped them last year, averaging
22.3 points but shooting just 37.3 percent from the field – a career
low for the 19-year veteran. If the Lakers can get production from
those fresh faces and add another star or two to shoulder the scoring
load, there could be one more playoff run left in Kobe before he calls
it a career.