Breaking Down What Must Happen for LA Lakers to Be Playoff Team in 2013-14

Heading into the 2013-14 season, the Los Angeles Lakers are in danger of missing the postseason for only the fifth time since moving to LA. Mind you, if everything breaks just right, they still have a fine shot at making it in.

The Lakers lost a huge chess piece during the 2013 offseason with Dwight Howard’s departure. His defection is a substantial blow for the franchise given that he was going to usher in a new era once Kobe Bryant retired.

And yet, Howard’s exit is both a blessing and a curse for the league’s most glamorous franchise. With the superstar center now a Houston Rocket, Mike D’Antoni will be able to play more to his up-tempo identity and get the pieces to fit.

That part of the equation cannot be stressed enough: The coaching staff must get the talent on the roster to play to their strengths if the Purple and Gold will participate in the 2013-14 playoffs.

D’Antoni did everything short of publicly blasting Pau Gasol during the 2012-13 season, but that trend can no longer hold up. The former New York Knicks head coach will start the Spaniard at center and watch him look like an All-Star.

The Lakers headman has already stated we should expect a stellar 2013-14 campaign from Gasol in an interview with ESPNLA (710 AM): "I expect him to have the best year he's ever had."

The multi-faceted big man will need to receive a multitude of touches both in the post and in the pick-and-roll to make the Lakers offense truly diverse. Gasol has proven in previous seasons he is a terrorizing low-post force as well as a terrific passer.

The Lakers need to highlight those skills to make a postseason run.

In addition, D’Antoni will rely more on Steve Nash and use him as a creator rather than simply a spot-up shooter.

The former two-time MVP occasionally orchestrated the offense during the 2012-13 campaign, but his role saw far t...

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