The last couple of seasons were just the preview of something that can no longer be denied: The Los Angeles Clippers are the best NBA team in the city, and open the season against the Los Angeles Lakers as huge favorites, especially as Kobe Bryant isn’t even playing.
It’s quite weird seeing the Lakers without Bryant starting a season, but there’s a good chance it’s going to take him quite a while before getting back, and all of the hype of his speedy return might have just a bit of fan boys getting excited through social media.
So the Lakers will start the season with one of the weakest squads they’ve had for a very long time, which includes Steve Nash also not being completely healthy, and minimal expectations from those who aren’t Lakers fans.
Things are quite different for the Clippers, who want to jump over the hurdle of being just a playoff team, and turn into a legitimate NBA title challenger, adding J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley to the lineup and vastly improving their bench, which will once again be led (in scoring at least) by Jamal Crawford.
However, most of the focus obviously goes to the man pulling the strings, Chris Paul, who also has a new head coach he’s working with, Doc Rivers. Rivers is about changing something of the mentality for the Clippers from ‘Lob City’ into a team that excels on both ends of the floor and shows a bit tougher mentality to prep them for the postseason, and there’s no better way to cement the changing of the guards than beating your biggest rivals to make sure there’s no doubt about who is the best team in L.A.
Kobe Bryant not playing means Nick Young and Wesley Johnson will get more minutes than they should while Jordan Farmar will slightly upgrade the terrible bench the Lakers had last season, but one big problem for the team will be their defense, which might end up being the worst in the league, especially when it comes to stopping teams on the perimeter and on fast breaks.
Prediction – The Lakers are a bad team even with a full lineup, so Kobe Bryant not playing among other injury issues surely means they’ll open yet another season with a loss.