Immediate Hurdles the LA Lakers Will Face This Season

The Los Angeles Lakers know that the way they come out of the gates to begin the 2013-14 NBA season can seal their fate for the entire campaign.

Based upon the decisions that team management made in the offseason, it's clear that the Lakers will endeavor to field a competitive team and strive to reach the postseason instead of blowing things up and beginning the rebuilding process like so many other franchises.

Given their roster construction and the state of the Western Conference, it will be an immense challenge to achieve that goal.

The Lakers know from their experience just one season ago that a slow start can be a tremendous obstacle to overcome, and it will be even more difficult in 2014 with as many as 12 teams in the West harboring legitimate playoff hopes.

Last year, the Lakers entered the season feeling like they were destined for an effortless trip to the NBA Finals, with four future Hall-of-Famers in the starting lineup. There are no such illusions of grandeur this year.

Instead, here are two hurdles the Lakers will face right off the bat.



The presumed absence of Kobe Bryant to begin the season leaves a Grand Canyon-sized void in the Lakers' offense.

Bryant is the foundation of everything L.A. does offensively. It's not just the 25-plus points he pours in on a nightly basis; the attention Bryant draws from opposing defenses opens up the floor for his teammates.

There is inherent value in shot creation. Though the debate rages in the analytics community as to how to quantify that value, studies have shown that lineups consisting of low-usage players decrease in efficiency as their usage rises.

That's the dilemma the Lakers are presented with, as four of the top-six players from last year's squad in terms of usage percentage (minimum 30 games played) are gone.

Bryant's presence forced en...

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