LA Lakers Notebook: Defining Success Depends on Who You Ask

LOS ANGELES — After winning back-to-back titles, the 2010-11 Los Angeles Lakers were swept out of the second round of the playoffs by Dirk Nowitzki and the champion Dallas Mavericks.

In defeat, Lakers All-Star guard Kobe Bryant declared that season "a wasted year of my life."

To Bryant, anything but a championship was a failed effort, but now, the team's future Hall of Famer has retired. The Lakers won a disastrous 17 games in his final year—last season under former head coach Byron Scott.

For Luke Walton, Scott's replacement, a "championship or bust" mantra simply won't work. The team is just too young to peg with serious expectations.   

What then, in their first year without Bryant in over 20 seasons, would success be?

"It's hard to say, but I think we have to go into the playoffs, or why are we playing?" newcomer and center Timofey Mozgov said at the Lakers' annual media day Monday. "We want to win every game. It is a young team, but like I say, I think we have a good coach, and I think we're going to do a really good job."

Mozgov, armed with a healthy, new four-year, $64 million contract, has a lot to be optimistic about, but it took 41 wins for the Houston Rockets to earn the eighth seed in the Western Conference last season. Expecting a 24-win jump from the Lakers is too much of a stretch.

Second-year forward Larry Nance Jr. gave a more practical response, one that didn't focus primarily on win total.

"We don't know yet," Nance said. "This team is obviously going to be together, at least one more year, hopefully more. As long as we just see improvement, and we all play the right way, play as a team, play for one another...that's a success."

Nance spent most of the summer working out in El Segundo, California, with his fellow young teammates, including forwards Brandon Ingram (this year’s second overall dra...

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