Dynasties cannot last forever, and the Los Angeles Lakers have sunk to their lowest levels in many years. After a risky acquisition of Steve Nash that didn't pan out as hoped, the Lakers are back to square one. The Lakers have also earned a New York Yankees-esque hatred from fan bases all across America. However, while fantasy pundits and sports reporters alike are writing off the Lakers as a doormat team this season, some even going so far as comparing them to the 76ers, there is absolutely hope Purple and Gold fans.
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Two guys on this team that have proven the haters wrong stand tall amidst the rubble. Kobe Bryant and Jeremy Lin.
Bryant stands as the everlasting figurehead for the NBA. Even as Durant and James own the league, Bryant can't be forgotten even at his advanced age. A cold-blooded killer, the Black Mamba is finally healthy enough to come attack the haters. With a legitimate passer in Jeremy Lin by his side, Bryant will find favorable shots more often than not. Kobe is Kobe when you hand him the ball to shoot. We know that.
Lin goes from leaving one prolific shooter in James Harden to another in Kobe. What's the difference you say? Practice. It was clear that Lin and Harden weren't the closest of teammates. Kobe on the other hand is one of those guys that drives people to get better. Lin's another hard-worker that grow immensely under the tutelage of one of the games' best. With Kobe drawing attention all over the court, Lin's slashing and dashing should help breakdown defenses inside-out. It also helps that Lin doesn't have the liability of Harden on defense. Lin's proven people wrong as an undrafted talent, and even before that, a not-so-highly-touted high school PG. Lin's proven people wrong before as a player cut from rosters. He has that drive, that faith, that will to succeed. He's getting to the rim early and often so far this preseason, and will wear out opposing teams and get them to rack up the fouls.
Remember when Kobe said he hadn't heard about Lin? Oh yeah, just 38 points, spinning Derek Fisher out of his shoes, layups and threes galore. No big deal. Handling the pressure of NY? No big deal. The first famous Asian-American player in the NBA since Yao Ming? No big deal. Contract year for Lin? Big deal.
Nick Swaggy P Young and rookie Jordan Clarkson should offer quick-pop three pointers when Lin/Kobe draw defenses in the paint. Ed Davis has never really been given the chance to shine, and a backcourt with him, Jordan Hill, and Bulls' amnesty-casualty Carlos Boozer should be at least serviceable without gigantic money. Julius Randle adds some rookie firepower on offense, too.
The Lakers have the serviceable pieces and star power to squeak into the playoffs. Really. The Suns did it last year behind the firepower of Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, as well as various front-court pieces. Why not LA?
There's always hope at the end of the tunnel. Let's just not undervalue it.