BoxScore Geeks' 2014 Los Angeles Lakers Preview

The Numbers

  •  Average Seed
    10
  • 📉 Pessimist
    31.2 wins
  •  Realist
    40.6 wins
  • 📈 Optimist
    50.0 wins
 First Seed
 
1.0%
⋆ Division
 
5.0%
 Top 4
 
8.8%
👍 Over (32.0)
ğŸ‘Ž Under (32.0)
 
17.7%
ğŸŽ€ Playoffs

The Brief

On paper, the Lakers have the talent to be a .500 team. But in practice, that would depend on Kobe's knees, Nash's back, and Byron Scott's ability to coach. That's a parlay that we wouldn't touch with a thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole.

The Story

There's been a lot of speculation since Jerry Buss died about just what the hell his son Jim is doing. Is the team trying to tank to rebuild? Well, if so, why extend Kobe $50 million for the next two years? Why take Carlos Boozer off of amnesty waivers? Why sign players like Wayne Ellington and Wes Johnson, who've already proven that they aren't going to develop into stars? And, my goodness, why is anybody still paying Nick Young to play!?

This is not even the most damning Nick Young picture on the internet.

Last year's story was similar. After Dwight had left, all the pieces were in place to wipe the slate clean. It woulda been easy to:

  • Amnesty Kobe (to save about $20m in luxury tax, more if he'd been claimed)
  • Trade Pau
  • Extend Jordan Hill (the one right thing they did.)

Other than Nash, the Lakers would have had almost nobody on the books. Stock up on D-leaguers and other young players and find some diamonds in the rough. Instead, the Lakers went on an absurd shopping spree for veterans that nobody wanted.

Last Year

  •  Actual Wins: 27
  •  Expected Wins: 23.3
  • ⚅ Lucky Wins: -2.3
Player Minutes Age WP48 Wins
Jodie Meeks  2,556 26 0.081 4.3
Wesley Johnson 2,240 27 0.071 3.3
Pau Gasol  1,884 34 0.047 1.8
Nick Young 1,810 29 -0.025 -0.9
Kendall Marshall  1,564 22 0.103 3.4
Jordan Hill 1,500 26 0.222 6.9
Ryan Kelly 1,312 23 0.025 0.7
Robert Sacre 1,089 25 0.005 0.1
Jordan Farmar  912 27 0.053 1.0
Xavier Henry 908 23 -0.003 -0.1
Steve Blake  891 34 0.098 1.8
Shawne Williams  751 28 0.016 0.2
Chris Kaman  736 32 -0.017 -0.3
Kent Bazemore  643 25 0.024 0.3
Steve Nash 313 40 0.025 0.2
MarShon Brooks 228 25 0.122 0.6
Manny Harris 180 24 0.027 0.1
Kobe Bryant 177 35 -0.083 -0.3
Elias Harris 11 25 0.107 0

 Indicates that the player is no longer with the team.

  • 23.3 total Wins Produced
  •  8 players leaving
    (9937.0 minutes, 12.6 wins)

Again, bear in mind that after amnestying Metta World Peace, the Lakers were right around the salary cap. So all those dollars spent on guys like Nick Young, Wes Johnson, Chris Kaman, etc., were all essentially twice as expensive after you calculate luxury tax. Yes, run that one by yourself again: the Lakers paid luxury taxes on this train wreck.

The lone shining speck of brilliance for Lakers fans was Jordan Hill. Hill has traditionally been a good player in his limited minutes, but finally got to shine a bit with some playing time. So it is, of course, only fitting that after re-signing Hill, the Lakers signed Carlos Boozer and Ed Davis, and drafted a power forward. With every other position in need of help, it was odd for the Lakers to decide power forward was the place to focus.

This Year

  •  Projected Wins: 40.6
  •  Conference Rank: 10
  • % Playoffs: 30.5
Player Position Minutes Age WP48 Wins
Carlos Boozer  4.0 2,384.9 33 0.069 3.4
Wesley Johnson 3.0 2,174.8 28 0.051 2.3
Kobe Bryant 2.0 2,173.5 37 0.141 6.4
Steve Nash 1.0 2,127.6 41 0.207 9.2
Jordan Hill 5.0 1,957.5 28 0.178 7.3
Jeremy Lin  1.0 1,452.9 26 0.133 4.0
Nick Young 2.5 1,314.0 30 0.074 2.0
Julius Randle  4.0 1,309.8 0 0.076 2.1
Robert Sacre 5.0 1,245.8 26 -0.035 -0.9
Jordan Clarkson  2.0 970.7 0 0.026 0.5
Ed Davis  4.5 775.5 26 0.130 2.1
Wayne Ellington  2.0 718.1 27 0.111 1.7
Ryan Kelly 4.0 583.1 24 0.010 0.1
Xavier Henry 3.0 491.8 24 0.030 0.3

 Indicates that the player is new to the team.

  • 📅 20.8 WP last year
    by these players
  • 🔀 -1.2 WP (roster changes)
  • ⏲ 1.6 WP (age/experience)

As you can see, this projection has some crazy optimism in it. It features Steve Nash ending up with 2100 minutes. It assumes a healthy Kobe Bryant returns to form and stays healthy. It's got Jordan Hill getting huge minutes, and it has Nick Young staying mostly out of the way.

I frankly would not count on any of these things happening, much less on all of them. This is one projection where I think algorithms and spreadsheets just let us down. I have trouble believing Nash will break 1,000 minutes. For a while, he looked like the guy who would finally knock out father time, but I think you can stick a fork in him. Kobe's coming back from two big injuries and is 36 years old. I think it's a big leap to assume he will return to form even if he can stay healthy. Assuming he'll do both is asking a lot from the random number generator in the sky, even with questionable German medicine practices. If Kobe loses minutes, that brings Nick Young back on the floor.

Further, Byron Scott can do a lot of damage here. He's already raising eyebrows across the league for refusing to acknowledge the rule that some shots are worth three points. He's also using a defensive scheme that has the team fouling like the 1989 Pistons, only without all the hand checking rules that let those Bad Boys get away with it. All that does is give the other team free points.

The Wrap

The Lakers have some good pieces. Unfortunately, a lot of them have serious position overlap, and some of them have serious injury concerns. A 40-win season is possible in theory, but I think the smart over/under you should be betting on is the number of games until Kobe implodes at all the losing.

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