Los Angeles Lakers Season Preview: Don’t Underestimate Kobe Bryant

The 2010-2011 NBA season is here, and I'm out of my offseason blogging break!

The Los Angeles Lakers are fresh off their second-straight championship, but they're far from fresh, as they're facing a slew of issues this season. Here are the key factors that I think will be facing the Lakers in this new season, with the theme "Don't underestimate."

Don't underestimate Kobe Bryant's knee rehab

One of the reasons most people think Kobe Bryant won't win this year's MVP award is his bum right knee. We've seen how it can affect his play, especially in the moments he struggled against the Celtics in the 2010 Finals. I see him bouncing back, but don't hold your breath. I see him averaging 24 points, five rebounds, four assists and a steal per game.


Don't underestimate Matt Barnes' short fuse

Is it me or does Matt Barnes present a bigger threat to derail the Lakers' chemistry this season than Ron Artest last year? Barnes is cut from the Rick Fox cloth of the 2000s, but I think he could take the enforcer role a bit too far as the season wears on. I see him leading the league in technical fouls.

Don't underestimate Steve Blake

New acquisition Steve Blake is the designated first point guard off the bench, but I see him eating up a few starter moments from Derek Fisher in the games before the All-Star break. I think Phil Jackson will rest Fisher and keep him fresh for the late season and a deep playoff run.

Don't underestimate the Western Conference

A lot of folks see the Lakers trampling over the Western Conference, but there are still some threats. Kevin Durant's Oklahoma City Thunder is the current up-and-coming team and the Utah Jazz is a rejuvenated squad with Al Jefferson manning the middle and Deron Williams running the show. The dark horse is the aging San Antonio Spurs, who are banking on a healthier and more experienced team.


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