Should league executives have it right, the Lakers will be taking their talents to South Beach. But, according to the NBA’s general manager preseason survey, the Lakers won’t return to L.A. ready to march down in another championship parade.
According to the poll, 70% of the general managers that responded predicted the Miami Heat will repeat as NBA champions. Only 23.3% believe the Lakers will win their 17th NBA title, tying the Boston Celtics.
But as the Lakers can attest from experience, they’re well aware that championships aren’t won on preseason polls or preseason games.
“The same GM’s picked Jordan at No. 3,” Lakers forward Metta World Peace said sheepishly . “They passed on him on the first pick. So we’ll see.”
World Peace is correct. In the 1984 NBA Draft, the Portland Trail Blazers selected Sam Bowie with their No. 2 pick, allowing the Chicago Bulls to grab Jordan, who then led the team to six NBA titles. Still, this same survey touted World Peace as the second toughest NBA player behind Kobe Bryant.
Obviously, the Lakers hold NBA championships as the purple and gold standard. But this year’s results still show a marked improvement from last season. The majority (60%) believe the Lakers will return to the NBA FInals after falling in the Western Conference semifinals in two consecutive seasons. Last year, only 17.9% of the general managers believed the Lakers would win the Western Conference.
The changed sentiment obviously reflects the Lakers’ offseason moves. They acquired an elite center (Dwight Howard), elite point guard (Steve Nash), secondary scoring (Antawn Jamison) and 3-point shooting (Jodie Meeks). The Lakers also retained promising bench pieces (Jordan Hill, Devin Ebanks, Darius Morris). Oh yeah, the Lakers made all these moves while still keeping Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and World Peace together.
Still, the Lakers vowed neither to care much about their improved Western Conference standing or take offense to falling short in the NBA Finals.
“It’s something you have to earn,” Gasol said. “It’s not something you can trust or rely on at all. We have a long year ahead of us. The season is about to start and we want to get ourselves ready for it. So we need to get guys healthy and play together every day in every game. That will be nice so we can build on getting to our goal. That’s not just getting to the Finals.”
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