Using a win prediction system I used with some success to accurately forecast last season’s Laker record and Clipper record and Bucks record, I took a stab at an early forecast of the new Dwight Howard/Steve Nash Lakers. My numbers don’t forecast Laker domination next season, which surprised me. My early prediction is that the Lakers will post 52.7 wins and 29.3 losses, making them a homecourt playoff team, but not necessarily a shoe-in for the NBA Finals.
After the Big 4, the Lakers are junk
I have to throw in the caveat that the only roster I had to work with was the “under contract” roster listed in the salary section of Hoopshype. I can’t possibly believe this will be the Lakers Opening Night roster. There are too many glaring holes. For example, right now the Lakers have Devan Ebanks as their only backup shooting guard. That’s untenable. He stinks.
Putting that aside, though, the major question mark for the Lakers next season will be the role and productive capacity of PF Antawn Jamison. When he was in Cleveland without LeBron, and in his last season in Washington, his production was horrible. On the other hand, during his short stint with LeBron in Cleveland, his production was okay. So which is it? Is he no longer suited to a lead role, and instead more comfortable and productive as a support player? Or was that short stint an aberration temporarily disguising the sharp decline of an aging, undersized power forward who no longer has the athleticism he once relied upon to be a productive player? I’m not sure, but I have to go with the evidence, and the evidence suggests Jamison is shot. Therefore, if the Lakers lean heavily on Jamison, which it looks as though they have to do given their roster and salary structure, then that reliance will cost them dearly.
Another reason the team is not that much better is the substitution effect. While the Lakers have gained two extremely productive players in Nash and Howard, their impact is blunted a bit because the Lakers have lost two other productive players — SF Matt Barnes and C Andrew Bynum. The pair combined to produce 14.8 wins and no losses for the Lakers last season. Nash and Howard will do better, but not dramatically better.
But again, the main reason for the surprisingly weak victory prediction is the team’s complete lack of depth. My numbers predict that the team’s Big 4 — Howard, Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant, and Steve Nash, will combine to produce 42.8 wins and 2.2 losses. My numbers predict the rest of the roster will produce only 9.9 wins and 27.1 losses. After the Big 4, the Lakers don’t have much.
Remember though, I assume the Lakers will upgrade their bench talent before the start of the season. If and when they do I will revise my numbers.