Can the Kobe-less Lakers survive?

Can the Kobe-less Lakers survive?

Roy Azoulay

San Antonio at LA Lakers
Lakers guard Jordan Farmar has returned to the team this season to join a young core of athletic guards looking to stay afloat without superstar Kobe Bryant. The Lakers are 2-3 on the season so far. Photo courtesy of MCT

When Laker nation found out that Kobe Bryant’s Achilles surgery would keep him out for an unknown period of time in the 2013-2014 season, there was a big question mark as to what will materialize from this team at the beginning of the season and its outlook going forward.

More than anything last season, the loss of Jerry Buss hurt the most. Ultimately, this meant a new reign in the organization. With his son, Jim Buss, handling the basketball operations, and Magic Johnson criticizing how Jim runs the team in comparison to his father, things are looking bleak for Laker fans this season.

The obstacle of having your prized superstar being sidelined will not be easy to overcome and with Kobe’s future and career in question, they have decided to set themselves up for what’s coming next.

They are hoping to sign some big name free agents in the 2014 market as they currently have 12 guys who have one-year deals or have only one year left. Only three players are on the books for next season only one of which is making more than $1 million: veteran point guard Steve Nash.

After going 4-4 in the preseason, all hope was not lost as management was able to find some young hungry players in Xavier Henry, Wesley Johnson, Nick Young and the familiar Jordan Farmar, even with Kobe’s $30,453,805 handicap.

Playing with an up-tempo style is the Lakers’ best chance of winning games given their current roster and with D’antoni at the helm, he can get the best out of their young players and help them to overachieve.

The Lakers won their season opener in game one of the hallway series against the Clippers, where their young bench was on display, scoring 76 of their 116 points in their 13 point victory. Henry had 22 points, Farmar put in 16, and Young dropped 13 as the team had seven players score in double-digits.

They got blown out and run off the floor by the Warriors who excel in fast paced offensive showcases and were just too much to handle for Los Angeles who would also drop their next game to the defending Western Conference champion Spurs.

Looking to bounce back at home versus the Smoove-less Hawks, balanced scoring was again their key to victory as they had five players in double digits and 10 players score at least five.

It’s clear D’antoni will look to balance the rotation and keep it fluid to maintain the fast tempo for as long as possible and it provides them with the best chance to win.

If we look at their wins, 11 players played at least 13 minutes against the Clippers with nobody playing more than 27. Against the Hawks, 11 players played at least 14 minutes.

A balanced team effort will be the way to go moving forward and hopefully one of these young players will look to settle in and separate themselves in the rotation and take a lead role. Henry looks the most poised and likely to do so thus far, averaging 14.3 points per game in 27.5 minutes.

The Lakers have eight players averaging at least seven points per game as they hope to keep up this balanced attack on their Texas road trip through Dallas and Houston on Tuesday and Thursday.