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The Lakers Will Make The Playoffs

The Lakers Will Make The Playoffs

 

One would expect the Lakers to be playoff contenders coming off back-to-back losing seasons...

But unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that heading into the 2015-2016 NBA season, the Lakers are expected to miss the playoffs for the third straight year.

I disagree however, although this squad may be an awkward mix of veterans and rookies, I think this team has what it takes to make it to the Finals playoffs.

Of course it won’t be easy, but I think they can do it. Am I crazy? No. Am I stupid? Maybe. I’ll explain my reasoning.

First of all let’s look at the playoff picture.

For the 2015-2016 season, division winners are no longer guaranteed a top four seed (that Spurs/Clippers matchup last year was unfair) but most of the time division winners end up in the top four anyway. The West is stacked as usual.

Last year there were nine teams that finished over .500 in the West as opposed to five in the East. In the West it’s tough to get in and even tougher to get out. Let’s look at the essential locks for the playoffs, and no I’m not the delusional I don’t think the Lakers are guaranteed a playoff spot:

Photo by Michael/Flickr

Photo by Michael/Flickr

Golden State Warriors

Aside from replacing David Lee with Jason Thompson, they remain the same. Curry, Klay Thompson, Barnes, Green, and Bogut. They also added Steve Nash as a player development coach. The NBA probably needs to move the 3 point line back a few feet. Or yards.

Photo by Michael/Flickr

Photo by Michael/Flickr

San Antonio Spurs

Every article mentioning the Spurs on the internet has already explained it, so I won’t.

Photo by Michael/Flickr

Photo by Michael/Flickr

 

Memphis Grizzlies

They didn’t improve this off-season, but they did add Matt Barnes who will help their already stingy defense. They might not be a five seed, but as long as they can stay healthy, they should make the postseason.

Photo by Michael/Flickr

Photo by Michael/Flickr

Houston Rockets

I don’t like the Rockets, I just don’t. But I can’t ignore the truth, they will make the playoffs. The Rockets added Ty Lawson without giving up any major pieces.

Photo by Michael/Flickr

Photo by Michael/Flickr

Los Angeles Clippers

Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan? Who cares about the rest of the team. They will make the playoffs.

Photo by Michael/Flickr

Photo by Michael/Flickr

 

New Orleans Pelicans

Anthony Davis. Anthony Davis. Anthony Davis.

Photo by Michael/Flickr

Photo by Michael/Flickr

 

Oklahoma City Thunder

A healthy Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook leads their team to the playoffs nine times out of ten.

 

So seven playoff spots are accounted for. One playoff spot left in the wild wild West.

So why will the Lakers earn that spot over talented teams such as the Jazz, Kings, or Suns? Kobe Bryant. Haha, I’m just kidding, Kobe can’t be counted on, he’s too old and hasn’t played a full season in years.

No disrespect to Kobe, he is still one of the top five players of all time, but father time always wins. Kobe will contribute. He will be a defensive liability but will put up 20-25 points (on 20-25 shots) every night.

So how on Earth can the Lakers make the playoffs when their superstar isn’t a superstar?

Defense and a quality bench. Yes, I just said that. On paper, it appears as if the Lakers only have one good defender; Roy Hibbert. He might not seem like a game changer, but he is.

His ability to protect the rim will allow D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson to take chances on defense and not have to worry about losing their man.

Roy Hibbert also had ranked in the top five in defensive field goal percentage near the rim. It may not be glamorous, but Hibbert will make an impact on the defensive end.

Although it can be attributed to luck or an easy schedule, the Lakers were 13 and 13 on December 20th 2013, the season in which Bryant didn’t play until December 8th.

How can they pull it off?

A quality bench. Nick Young, Xavier Henry, and Jordan Farmar anchored the bench that ranked in the top five in the NBA in terms of scoring. Having a good bench can help you win games.

This year, the Lakers added Louis Williams and Brandon Bass to go along with a (hopefully) focused Nick Young and improved Tarik Black.

I believe defense and bench production will be enough to push the Lakers past the Kings, Jazz, and Suns and into the playoffs.

There are other factors too like the improvement of Jordan Clarkson, a healthy Julius Randle, and D’Angelo Russell, but I already have almost 900 words so I’ll just leave it at that.

 

Alan is a junior contributor to lipinghuang.com. He really hates Comcast and pho, all while studying at the City College of San Mateo.

 
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