Breaking Down the LA Lakers’ Biggest X-Factors for 2013-14

The Los Angeles Lakers are hoping for a successful 2013-14 season. In order for that to happen, they will need certain players to step up.

There is already some trepidation revolving around Kobe Bryant’s return from his ruptured Achilles. But after taking an in-depth look at the history certain players with this injury, it seems as though we should expect the superstar to return and play at a high level.

Thus, we will assume that Bryant will still be the Lakers’ best player in 2013-14. Steve Nash and Pau Gasol, both of whom are borderline elite players at their positions, will flank him. It stands to reason that Nash and Gasol will play up to their capabilities and produce fairly close to the same level as their previous seasons.

Consequently, the coaching staff as well as the fans have a clear idea of what to expect from the team’s top trio. In addition, the other returning players from 2012-13 will be utilized in the same manner heading into 2013-14.

That essentially means the expectations are fairly low from the returning role players given that they played within their talents and were not huge difference-makers.

Steve Blake and Jordan Hill were average backup players, and Mike D’Antoni was forced into leaning on them more than he anticipated due to injuries to his starters. Their increased minutes did not exactly benefit the Purple and Gold, since they are replacement-level players and the guys tasked with spelling them were subpar. tells us the Lakers were statistically decent with Blake on the floor, whereas things fell apart with Hill. Indeed, the Lakers were outscored with the big man patrolling the paint in 2012-13, which is consistent with his 2011-12 showing.

The remainder of the returning reserves consists of Jodie Meeks and Robert Sacre. Meeks was brought in to space the floor with his three-point shooting, but he was only sligh...

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