Best- and Worst-Case Scenarios for Los Angeles Lakers’ 2014-15 Season

Byron Scott's back. Nick Young, Jordan Hill, Xavier Henry and Ryan Kelly are, too. Kobe Bryant will be. Steve Nash might be. Pau Gasol won't be. Jeremy Lin, Carlos Boozer, Julius Randle and Ed Davis are all first-timers.

And that, in a nutshell, is the Los Angeles Lakers' offseason to date. It hasn't been a particularly pretty one, not with Gasol's departure and Carmelo Anthony's spurning.

But...well, there's a whole lot of new in Lakerland. That turnover, combined with the gag-inducing taste left over from the team's 27-55 campaign in 2013-14, has kept expectations tempered for the Purple and Gold. So, too, has the strengthening of the Western Conference, with the cross-hall Los Angeles Clippers rising through the ranks.

This isn't to say that the 2014-15 season will be as replete with misery as its predecessor. The tandem returns of Scott and Bryant should do plenty to engender the sort of stability needed to underpin a winning environment.

Still, the Lakers' situation remains as volatile and unpredictable as any in the NBA today. With so many variables in play, it's nigh on impossible to predict how L.A. will fare with any great confidence.

Instead of engaging in such a futile speculative exercise, then, let's hedge our bets by imagining what the Lakers could look like if everything breaks right for them...and if everything falls apart again.


Best-Case Scenario

If Dr. Pangloss were a Lakers fan, he'd probably say that the best of all possible worlds for the Lakers is one in which they show significant signs of progress, perhaps even toward a playoff berth.

That would require no less than a near-full recovery from Bryant. He looked rusty and hobbled in his six games last season, and subsequently succumbed to another knee injury that put him out of commission for the remainder.

Bryant tried to alternate between scorer and ...

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