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Lakers vs. Nuggets preview: Kobe Bryant returns as preseason tips off

Lakers basketball is making a return, along with Kobe Bryant. The purple and gold break their preseason seal against the Nuggets in San Diego.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The ribbon is about to be cut on the Los Angeles Lakers' preseason, signifying the first real taste of NBA action for the purple and gold. It's felt like an eternity since the Lakers last suited up for some good ole fashioned basketball, but it's finally here. 174 days later, we have a new basketball team to watch, and a healthy Kobe Bryant returning.

The Denver Nuggets aren't exactly the easiest team for the Lakers to face right out of the gates. Kenneth Faried, fresh off of signing a reportedly five-year, $60 million extension with the Nuggets, had a very good FIBA World Cup tournament. His non-stop energy will be a challenge for the Lakers' frontcourt to handle, even with Jordan Hill's motor running. Ty Lawson is a handful on his own, and he'll have standout college point guard Gary Harris spelling him as well. Danilo Gallinari will be back after missing extensive time since tearing his ACL two seasons ago. And oh, yeah, Arron Afflalo is back in Denver.

There's a lot to like about this Nuggets roster, and it will be up to Brian Shaw to meld it all together. Denver went 36-46 in Shaw's first year at the helm, but a healthy Gallinari and returning Afflalo should hike that win total up a bit.

It's a bitter sweet start to the preseason for Los Angeles, though, as Nick Young will be sidelined until mid-November at the earliest. On one hand, that'll allow Byron Scott a chance to kick around options at shooting guard. On the other, to put it blunt, the Lakers don't have many real options at the position to begin with, especially with Xavier Henry out until further notice.

That negativity will easily be outweighed by the positives for now, though. Julius Randle makes his real debut with the Lakers and how he performs will be a huge story in Los Angeles. Kobe Bryant is returning, and if the highlights from training camp are any indication, he's looking ready to fire on all cylinders. Jeremy Lin might just represent the most stability at point guard the team has seen in years. Jordan Clarkson could have a big opportunity to prove himself with the Lakers' backcourt rotation thinning out.

The Byron Scott era is about to really begin in Los Angeles, and for some, all that matters is saying goodbye to two seasons of Mike D'Antoni and the ball "finding energy."

A new season is nearly upon us, and the preseason is a great chance to watch some non-consequential basketball. The wins and losses won't matter, it's all about meeting this new Lakers team. Let's watch some basketball again.

Time: 7 p.m. PT

Station: TWCSN

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