ESPN’s writers recently predicted that the Lakers would be the 12th seed in the Western Conference next season. At least one NBA scout disagrees with this prediction.
An NBA scout told Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles that he thinks the Lakers will make the playoffs with Steve Nash running Mike D’Antoni’s fast-passed offense. However, in true D’Antoni fashion, the scout thinks that the purple and gold will struggle defensively next year:
[pullquote]”They’re going to be back playing more of Mike D’Antoni’s style, which is a lot of early offense, playing the pick-and-roll, playing to Steve Nash’s strengths. You got a guy in Jordan Farmar who is going to be able to play in that style. He’s quick, he’s athletic, he can play point guard. Nick Young is an athlete, a guy that can get up and down the court and can really score coming off the bench. Wes Johnson is a guy who can space the floor for them, hopefully.”
— “I don’t expect them to be a strong defensive team. They’ve got a lot of older, veteran guys. I just don’t know that that’s the strength of Coach D’Antoni. I think he’s a tremendous offensive coach and I know his philosophy is, ‘Well, if we outscore the opposing team then we’ve played good enough defense.’ He’s basically said that in the past.”
— “I do expect the Lakers to be competitive again. I think they’re a playoff-caliber team. I don’t know if they’re going to be one of the top-tier teams in the West.”[/pullquote]
I think this assessment of the Lakers’ chances is spot on; it looks as if the team will run more next season since they went out and signed young, athletic guys such as Nick Young, Wesley Johnson and Jordan Farmar, though they’ll likely slow it down at times, too, and get the ball inside to the likes of Pau Gasol and Chris Kaman.
The team will also likely struggle defensively next season as the scout predicts. The team is fairly old and the younger guys they have aren’t necessarily known for their defensive skills.
All in all – as long as the main core guys stay healthy and Kobe Bryant can return strong from his Achilles injury – the Lakers should definitely earn a playoff spot next year.