ESPN predicts Lakers will finish 12th in Western Conference

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love, left, drives against Los Angeles Lakers forward Jordan Hill, right, during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Minneapolis, Friday, March 28, 2014. The Timberwolves won 143-107. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love, left, drives against Los Angeles Lakers forward Jordan Hill, right, during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Minneapolis, Friday, March 28, 2014. The Timberwolves won 143-107. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

So much has changed for the Lakers this offseason, a flurry of activity in the past four months keeping them just as busy during an otherwise tumultuous year.

Mike D’Antoni resigned, and four months later, Byron Scott became the head coach. The Lakers have reported Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash to feel healthier. Some players left (Pau Gasol, Jodie Meeks, Jordan Farmar, Kent Bazemore, Chris Kaman). Some players stayed (Nick Young, Jordan Hill, Xavier Henry, Wesley Johnson, Ryan Kelly). Some newcomers arrived (Jeremy Lin, Julius Randle, Ed Davis, Carlos Boozer).

But it appears ESPN sees those moves as nothing more than rearranging the chairs of a sinking ship, a panel of media memberss collectively predicting the Lakers will finish 12th in the Western Conference. That marked the same pre-season ranking the Lakers received last season. Despite public outcry from Kobe Bryant and the rest of his supporting cast, it turns out that ranking proved too generous. The Lakers eventually finished with a 27-55 mark, putting them 14th in the Western Conference and earning the unenviable title of a team that holds the worst record in L.A. franchise history.
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Kobe Bryant hands-on with Nike clinic in China

The screaming elation for Kobe Bryant heightened with each highlight-reel jumper and cross over he performed. Bryant’s mere presence also lifted a nation that seeks inspiration from his overflowing talent and work ethic.

But as Bryant recently spent time in Shanghai, China as part of the Nike RISE campaign, it appears his impact at the clinics go beyond his celebrity and skills. He also spends time teaching them critical skills to revamp their game. The videos highlighted in this post show Bryant providing instruction in various facets.

Bryant showed one player how to operate in the post using his footwork and various counter moves. Bryant demonstrated to another player how to master playing with a defensive stance. Of course, Bryant also relished competing one-on-one with several players, both to showcase his superiority and provide a blueprint on how to win.

“I wasn’t the fastest one,” Bryant said in a video interview. “I wasn’t the most athletic one. So I had to learn, deal with and play with what I had. That really helped my skill level. Then eventually I grew. And eventually I became faster. Then I had the skills to go along with that.”

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Byron Scott believes Kobe Bryant will “surprise a lot of people this year”

Kobe Bryant

The accomplishments on Kobe Bryant’s basketball resume provides every indication he can stay on the mountaintop of greatness. His five NBA championships provides various flash points in his career that involved temporarily co-existing with another star (Shaquille O’Neal) and morphing into a more established leader amid a dependable supporting cast (Pau Gasol). Bryant’s fourth-place ranking on the NBA’s all-time scoring list shows his consistent ability to score in too many ways to count. His extensive pain threshold suggests the same.

Yet, Bryant enters the 2014-15 season with fair skepticism on how he will play namely because of the unprecedented challenges that await him. How does he stay healthy after suffering significant injuries to his left Achilles tendon and left knee that kept him sidelined last season for all but six games? How does Bryant return to an elite level after not playing a competitive basketball game in nearly nine months? How does Bryant find any degree of balance in maximizing his play without putting too much burden on his body?

Lakers coach Byron Scott remains mindful of those concerns. But in a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSeJBzJwlwM" interview with Fox Sports Live, Scott conveyed optimism about Bryant’s fortunes after seeing a recent series of his individual workouts.

“It fuels his fire when people are doubting him,” Scott said. Championships fuel his fire. Kobe is going to surprise a lot of people this year.”

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Byron Scott does Q/A session on Lakers Twitter feed; says coaching staff will ‘probably’ be complete in a week

Byron Scott said he agreed to coach the Lakers next season. AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Byron Scott said he agreed to coach the Lakers next season. AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

On Friday afternoon, the Lakers Twitter account was taken over by new head coach Byron Scott for a Q/A session with fans using the #AskByron hashtag. The new Los Angeles skipper took questions for close to an hour. Here are the ten best responses from Scott:

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NBA Rookies do AMA on Reddit; Lakers rookie Julius Randle does not disappoint

 Kentucky forward Julius Randle dons a Los Angeles Lakers cap after being selected seventh overall by the Lakers during the 2014 NBA draft, Thursday, June 26, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

Kentucky forward Julius Randle dons a Los Angeles Lakers cap after being selected seventh overall by the Lakers during the 2014 NBA draft, Thursday, June 26, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

The NBA rookie class participated in an AMA on Reddit Sunday (for those non-Redditors, AMA stands for Ask Me Anything) and a couple questions asked were answered by Lakers rookie Julius Randle, who stole the thread.

Randle took questions on Rookie of the Year awards, his NBA 2K rating and playing with Kobe Bryant.

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Magic Johnson on Byron Scott: ‘We chose the right coach.’

Magic Johnson (pictured speaking at Cal State Long Beach) said he is thrilled with the hiring of Byron Scott as the Lakers new head coach.  Photo by Steve McCrank/Daily Breeze

Magic Johnson (pictured speaking at Cal State Long Beach) said he is thrilled with the hiring of Byron Scott as the Lakers new head coach.
Photo by Steve McCrank/Daily Breeze

When Byron Scott joined the Los Angeles Lakers in 1983 he was the fourth overall pick in that year’s draft out of Arizona State. After three years with the Sun Devils, he left as the school’s all-time leading scorer and a second-team All-American selection.

That meant nothing to his teammates.

“When we brought him in, we didn’t speak to him,” former teammate and Laker legend Magic Johnson said Tuesday at Scott’s press conference introducing him as the team’s new head coach. “He was a just a college kid. So we wouldn’t speak to him, and we wouldn’t sit with him. He would have to go sit by himself at lunch and dinner. We smacked him and elbowed him because we wanted to understand what we were getting.”

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Byron Scott confident he can coexist with Kobe Bryant

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, right, looks to pass around Indiana Pacers forward Paul George in an NBA basketball game in March 2013.  Bryant played only six games last season. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, right, looks to pass around Indiana Pacers forward Paul George in an NBA basketball game in March 2013. Bryant played only six games last season. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

In 1996, an 18-year-old Kobe Bryant just starting his NBA career, shared a sideline with Byron Scott, who was ending his own. Faded photos almost two decades old show the pair sitting next to each other on the sideline, dressed in bright yellow warm up suits: the rookie and the veteran.

This season, they will be the aging superstar and the new coach.

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Byron Scott has high praise for Lakers lottery pick Julius Randle

Kentucky forward Julius Randle, right, poses for a photo with NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected seventh overall by the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2014 NBA draft, Thursday, June 26, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Kentucky forward Julius Randle, right, poses for a photo with NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected seventh overall by the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2014 NBA draft, Thursday, June 26, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

With Byron Scott now the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, the former member of the Showtime Lakers gets the chance to coach one of the best players in NBA history in Kobe Bryant.

But he also gets to coach on the most talented young prospects in the league in lottery pick  and power forward Julius Randle. At Scott’s introductory press conference on Tuesday, Scott was asked his thoughts on the promising Randle and gave a flattering review:

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New Lakers head coach Byron Scott thinks current roster can be competitive

Byron Scott said he agreed to coach the Lakers next season. AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Byron Scott said he agreed to coach the Lakers next season. AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

The Los Angeles Lakers didn’t exactly hit the home runs they were hoping for in free agency after going after superstars LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony and ultimately losing out to Cleveland and New York.

But the roster additions they were able to make, which include Jeremy Lin, Carlos Boozer and Ed Davis, were enough to have new head coach Byron Scott excited. Continue reading

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