Repeat the Three-Peat: 2010-11 Los Angeles Lakers—What To Look For

2009-10 Regular Season: 57-25

2009-10 Playoffs: #1 seed; defeated the Boston Celtics in seven games to win the NBA championship 

Additions: Matt Barnes, Steve Blake, Devin Ebanks, Derrick Caracter, Theo Ratliff 

Key Losses: Jordan Farmar, Josh Powell 

Projected Rotation Players: Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Ron Artest, Derek Fisher, Andrew Bynum, Steve Blake, Matt Barnes, Shannon Brown, Derrick Caracter, Theo Ratliff

As Kobe Bryant enters his 15th NBA season, look for Pau Gasol to slowly move from the Lakers second option to "option 1a." 

Right off the bat, let’s get one thing clear: a modest upgrade in Gasol’s role would NOT signal the end of Kobe Bryant’s run as a top-flight player. If anything, doing so will extend it. 

However, Kobe’s neither getting any younger nor—despite his incredible force of will and ability to play through pain—is his body as fresh as it’s been in years past. With more than 1,300 meaningful (regular and postseason) games in 14 seasons under his belt, Kobe may be the oldest 32 year-old in NBA history. It’s already been revealed that Phil Jackson plans to limit his superstar’s minutes in the coming year (though limiting his games could be the prudent play), especially as he works out some kinks and gets back up to speed.

Given Kobe’s struggles this offseason—12.6 PPG and 28.2% from the field in roughly 22 minutes per game—it’s clear that lightening his considerable workload is vital to the Lakers shot at a three-peat.

Meanwhile, Pau Gasol, the second option on three straight finals teams (including two straight title-winners) and an elite NBA big man, is more than capable of shouldering an even larger load for this team. In the middle of the past decade, Gasol was the centerpiece of three 45+ win (and playoff bound) ...

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