Lakers Open 2014-15 With a Lot of Question Marks


There is nothing better than trying to project out an entire season on the strength of one game. Seeing the Los Angeles Lakers’ effort on opening night, it would be easy to say that they’ll go 0-82, but in reality we know that won’t be true. After all, they get to play the Sixers twice. I know, I’m that hopeful.

Oct 28, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Julius Randle (30) drives against Houston Rockets forward Donatas Motiejunas (20) during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

With a new coach, first-game jitters and ton of personnel turnover, the 2014-2015 Lakers are far from a finished product. But hey, it’s going to be a long season. A few observations as the Lakers now try to climb out of the cellar:

  • Kobe Bryant looks markedly healthier than he did in his brief stint last season, but not as fluid as during the ‘Dwight Howard era’. I don’t think he’ll get all the way back at his advanced ‘basketball age’, but he’ll definitely improve, a la Michael Jordan‘s Wizards comeback, when he learns what his body is still capable of accomplishing.
  • Julius Randle‘s broken leg is a real shame.  While we didn’t get a long look at him, he does appear to have the tools to be a cornerstone someday. We saw tonight that transitioning to play against NBA bigs is going to take some time. Youth is on his side and hopefully he’ll pick up on the development curve where he left off. Just imagine, for example, where he’ll be once he has even a fraction of Ed Davis‘ experience.
  • The schedule makers were able to display their sick sense of humor once again. Dwight Howard and the Rockets facing Kobe for the first time on opening night? Were they able to sign Henry Abbott to a one day contract too?

    Oct 28, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) is elbowed by Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

  • As an NBA purist, I like seeing less three pointers. The Lakers took only ten where most teams average over twenty. It’s unfortunate that rule changes have led the league to this, but that’s the hand that has been dealt. We’ll see how long Byron Scott will come to the table leaving points on the floor.
  • There is definitely a loss in elevation in Kobe’s jumper, but it looks more planted. I wonder if that’s his body’s response to his previous injuries or a conscious effort that altering his mechanics will have some physical benefits. We’ll have to see how it holds up during back-to-backs.

  • The Lakers miss Steve Nash in the sense that Jeremy Lin shouldn’t be starting with Kobe Bryant. Lin needs to hold the ball to be effective and takes up a lot of space doing so. He still tends to push the ball too fast to keep his footing out there. If I see someone this Halloween running around in a chicken costume with no head, it may be Jeremy Lin.
  • I hope Jordan Clarkson is still on the roster when Nick Young comes back. Rugby is a fantastic sport and seeing teammates scrum over the same ball might someday bring a franchise to England or Australia.
  • This game made me look at my calendar for when Pau Gasol returns: December 25th.
  • While the Lakers may not turn out to be a playoff team, there will definitely be plenty of compelling story-lines to keep you engaged throughout the season. This is not a championship-caliber squad, but things can change on a dime in the off-season.

    More from Kobe Bryant

    Seeing how thin the roster has already become, keeping their top-five first round pick is not out of the question. Draft an impact player and use your cap space properly, then you already have a different team.

    We know this is a franchise under transition, but a lingering question all season will be what direction will the Lakers take? That’s what snap judgments like these are for!