Anxiousness awaits for the Lakers’ training camp, and for what?
Very few tab them as NBA championship favorites. Uncertainty lingers on how Kobe Bryant will look after he heals his left Achilles tendon. Skepticism persists over whether Mike D’Antoni can lead these Lakers through troubled times.
That’s perhaps why NBA2K14, a video game that prides itself on comprehensive player analysis and credible game simulations, tabs the Lakers this season failing to reach the playoffs and finishing with a 35-47 record. Granted, NBA2K13 rated last year’s Lakers as the NBA championship favorites, and we all know how that turned out. The NBA2K franchise also may do its own simulations before the Oct. 1 release. I received an advance copy and performed my own simulation.
But there’s plenty of reasons to feel skeptical about the Lakers. Dwight Howard bolted for the Houston Rockets. The Lakers lost their best defensive player in Metta World Peace for the sake of saving luxury taxes through the amnesty provision. The Lakers’ offseason additions in Nick Young, Wesley Johnson, Chris Kaman and Jordan Farmar bring some added speed and additional scoring. But on paper, it appears the Lakers don’t have enough defensively.
“This team just doesn’t have enough athleticism and speed to contend for a title,” said Clark Kellog, who offers analysis with Steve Kerr while Kevin Harlan serves as the play-by-play announcer for the NBA2K14 game.
NBA2K14’s simulation of the Lakers’ season hardly goes according to script, though.
The Lakers surprisingly lead the Pacific Division for most of the season, even upsetting the defending champion Miami Heat, 104-103, on a Christmas Day game in Staples Center. Kobe Bryant also plays well enough to make his 16th NBA All-Star game.
But the Lakers unravel in March with an 11-game losing streak. Although Bryant leads the Lakers in scoring, his 21.4 points per game average marks a sharp decrease from the 2012-13 campaign when he average 27.3 points per game. The Lakers also remained active leading up to the trade deadline, which could have disrupted team chemistry. The Lakers sent Pau Gasol to the Denver Nuggets for Danilo Gallinari and draft picks, while the Lakers sent Nick Young to the Clippers for J.J. Redick and more draft picks.
To which plenty of Lakers fans will say, training camp can’t come soon enough. There, there will entail actual storylines to follow. That includes whether the Lakers can prove the outside skepticism, shared also by a video game, that they can restore to championship contention.