Which Superstar Is Most Important for LA Lakers’ Success?

After General Manager Mitch Kupchak's busy summer, the Los Angeles Lakers now have four players who would each qualify as the best player for more than a few teams.

But who's the best player on the Lakers now? Which one is most important to the team's title hopes? 

Though much has changed in the last few months, the answer to that question hasn't. 

Kobe Bryant remains the Lakers' most valuable player, and will continue to be next season and likely another couple of years beyond that should he elect to keep playing. Sure, you can make at least somewhat compelling arguments for Los Angeles' other stars, but there's an easy test for determining the most vital component.

How good would the Lakers be without that component?

Los Angeles would struggle mightily on the defensive end without Howard, but a combination of Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill could capably man the painted area. Head coach Mike Brown would no doubt encourage a quicker tempo and utilize Antawn Jamison at the four position to spread the floor.

Without Steve Nash, the Lakers wouldn't be a heck of a lot worse than they were last season. That's not to say he doesn't make them significantly better; it's just to say this team is used to playing without an All-Star point guard.

Taking away Pau Gasol wouldn't be all that different from taking away Howard, but the impact would be felt more on the offensive end than on defense.

Removing Kobe Bryant from the equation would be nothing short of catastrophic, though, especially against quality playoff teams.

Los Angeles managed a decent 5-3 record without Bryant last season, but it also lost by 20 points to the Phoenix Suns and by 21 to the San Antonio Spurs during that stretch.

Bryant remains the team's undisputed first option, its leader and the guy on whom it will continue to rely in late-game situations. He's irreplaceab...

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