NBA Playoffs 2013: Can Lakers Rise from Kobe Bryant’s Shadow?

It wasn't until they beat the Houston Rockets in the final game of the regular season to secure the seventh seed in the Western Conference playoff bracket that I became reinvested in the Slowtime Lakers. 

In fact, I still can't decide what was more impressive, if not indicative, of the win: the fact that they competed so hard despite having already secured a playoff berth via a Utah Jazz loss earlier that night, or that the win itself legitimately put the Lakers in a position to succeed by helping them avoid the only two teams (and this is just my personal opinion) they don't have a prayer of beating (OKC and LA Clippers) for at least the first two rounds. 

The answer is probably both. 

But because I'm an uber-nerd when it comes to the NBA, I've never found answers quite as compelling as questions. And if there is one question that stands out among the millions of others that have been thrown around this team all season long, it's this: Can the thin-as-floss Angeles Lakers rise from Kobe Bryant's shadow?

It's a tough call, really. 

On one hand, their offensive potential is painstakingly limited, their bench has slightly less NBA talent than a Kardashian dinner table, and Dwight Howard's post moves typically leave me wondering just how badly the average player needs to pee at any given moment in time.

Yet, on the other, not only might they have the two most naturally gifted offensive and defensive big men in the NBA, but Kobe Bryant's absence in the playoffs also works for them in two obvious ways. 


1. It reduces any level of expectation on how well they should do. (They are basically playing with house money at this point, which is why Mitch Kupchak went on record this week to say Mike D'Antoni will return as coach next season.) 

2. It gives everyone a chance to finally earn their way into a spotlight that is as big...

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