The Lakers will be lucky to make the playoffs next season


(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Remember when being named Lakers head coach was a significant accomplishment? A destination job? The pinnacle of the basketball world?

It’s been a while, and unfortunately for Byron Scott, that won’t change anytime soon.

A 35-year-old Kobe Bryant coming off two major injuries. A 40-year-old Steve Nash sticking around for one final year’s worth of paychecks. Nick Young, being Nick Young.

This is the type of roster that will cause Scott to fondly reminisce over the his last job, coaching the post-LeBron Cavaliers. At least that team had Kyrie Irving. But fear not, Scott, hope is on the way in the form of one Michael Beasley. Seriously.

A two-man game of Beasley and Young Swaggy P could be worth the price of admission for entertainment value and unintentional comedy alone.

But just how bad will this Lakers team be next season? The obvious metric is wins and losses. Last year’s 27-win total was the fewest in the team’s history since the 1959-60 season. Let’s dig a little deeper and look at the team’s net rating, which is a number based on subtracting points allowed per 100 possessions from points scored per 100 possessions.

For instance, last season the Spurs scored 110.5 points per 100 possessions, while allowing 102.4 per 100 possessions, giving the team a net rating of 8.1, an elite number. (The reason it’s based on 100 possessions is to factor in pace of play among different teams.)

With that in mind, let’s look at how last year’s Lakers team compared to other squads from the last 20 years.

Yes, ‘awful’ is the correct — and only —response. Now here’s where it gets even worse for the Lakers.

So if you’re keeping track at home, the Lakers lost Jodie Meeks and Pau Gasol, the players with the first- and third-highest win share totals respectively, while paying Jordan Hill $9 million next year.

Of course, that table does not factor in the two new additions— Carlos Boozer (3.4 win shares) and Ed Davis (2.6) — both of whom were solid signings given the price tags, but not necessarily difference-makers. After all, Chicago basically amnestied Boozer so it could acquire Gasol. The team also traded for Jeremy Lin when Houston was in cap clearing mode. It also drafted Julius Randle, but who knows how ready the 19-year-old will be by October?

The $48.5 million question is what does Bryant have left? Bryant will be 36 by the time the season starts and entering his 19th season, following knee and Achilles’ surgeries. Considering how rusty Derrick Rose looked last season during his failed comeback attempt, it would be overly optimistic to assume Bryant will seamlessly slip back into his role of being the primary option and team-leading scorer.

In his introductory news conference, Scott told reporters:

“This organization is all about championships. Period. We don’t look at Western Conference finals, Western Conference championships. We look at championships.”

Considering the roster, winning more than 27 wins is a more realistic goal.

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