Los Angeles Lakers Complete 2016-17 NBA Season Preview

Kobe Bryant had to check if Harrison Barnes had kicked him in the back of the leg.

Instead, he had gone down without contact, his left Achilles tendon rendered in two. Bryant lumbered in pain to the free-throw line, remarkably hitting a pair to help the Lakers secure a 118-116 win over the Golden State Warriors. 

While the Lakers have had moments since that day, Friday, April 12, 2013 was the end of an era. Bryant hung around for three more seasons. He even scored a scintillating 60 points during the final game of career, but it was a victory that gave the Lakers just their 17th win of the year.

The Lakers generally expect to compete for a championship annually, but the franchise has managed just 65 wins over the past three years. Fortunately, the NBA rewards teams for their struggles via the draft.

Replacing a now-departed talent such as Bryant is nearly impossible, but the team has high hopes that its young cadre of prospects will develop into impact NBA players.

No longer straddling the past and the future, the fate of the franchise is in the hands of players such as second-year guard D'Angelo Russell and rookie forward Brandon Ingram. To bring the most out of the team's youth, the team let Byron Scott go, replacing him with the youngest coach in the league: Luke Walton.

Even a significant 20-win improvement over L.A.'s dismal 2015-16 campaign would net just 37, which isn't likely to be enough for a playoff berth in the Western Conference. Thus, the "championship or bust" mindset is, for now, a thing of the past, as the Lakers look to establish a foundation that will eventually compete for a title.


Biggest Offseason Move Trying to keep their championship hopes alive, the Lakers made two significant trades in 2012, acquiring veterans Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. Nash was injured for almost his entire...

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