The Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard position is thing heading into the 2014-2015 season, but arguably houses their two best players in Kobe Bryant and Nick Young. The duo will be expected to carry the Lakers scoring, which is right up their alley. Here's what we had to say about the pair in our season preview.
"Rewind to last April: Swaggy P was THE reason people were still watching the Lakers by the end of the season. He had a career year that addressed his haters and then some. Swaggy P averaged a career high 17.9 points on 43.5% shooting (including 39% from deep) to go along with 1.5 assists, 2.6 rebounds and nearly 1 combined block/steal per game. Despite setting a career-high for usage rate, his increased efficiency also landed Young his first above average PER in the NBA.
The eye test confirmed his much improved statistics. Swaggy P actually tried on defense and his effort was obvious every night. He played his tail off trying to work within the Lakers' system. Even as the go-to offensive weapon in a team bereft of talent, he played within D'Antoni's principles and was much less of a ball stopper than anticipated. He passed and scored within the flow of the offense. In the process, he became the Lakers' most consistent performer, as well as its most electric." - Swaggy P's encore performance
Lakers season preview
"I am predicting that Young will be the Lakers third-leading scorer by the end of the year (behind Kobe and Randle), and that he maintains the efficiency levels that he displayed in 2013-14. That'd be a great season from Young for the Lakers, especially after inking him to a four-year, $21.5 million deal.
Young having a productive year would help the Lakers stay an entertaining watch during a tough year, and the joy he brings to the game and locker room helps it not devolve into the chaos which can engulf some lottery teams." - Nick Young's portfolio
"Ultimately, though, it will all come back to Bryant - his league-high $23.5 million salary commands it. And the five-time champion readily welcomes the challenge. A 17th All-Star nomination is merely a consolation for a man driven to win a sixth title, skeptics be damned. "We're going to shock the world," he's reflected, speaking on his journeyman-laden supporting cast.
But before we offer our "Well Actually" rebuttals centered on advanced age, crumbling bodies, and cellar-dweller status, we should join Bryant in greeting another season - the welcoming of a clean slate. Though last season is a measuring stick, it's also, even if temporarily, in the rear-view mirror with one prominent exception: Kobe Bryant is back again.
Let's sweat tomorrow later." - Kobe Bryant returns one more time
Lakers season preview
"The only inevitability with Kobe Bryant is a top-notch effort, which is why the Lakers, albeit prematurely, trusted him with $48.5 million over his final two seasons. Last season's abbreviated return was certainly awful in its brevity and content, but everyone trusts Bryant has made good on his extended layoff, eventually granting us a few peeks into years past. His patented (MJ-copied, whatever) fadeaway will be a welcome sight, as will his next thunderous dunk, 30-point game, and, on the whole, healthy campaign. Given our pseudo-business of predicting numbers, a stat line of 22-6-5 wouldn't surprise me.
What It Means: Making the postseason is a collective challenge for the Lakers, but adding Bryant will be a massive upgrade on the court, especially given the team's other additions and re-signings. They wriggled to 27 wins last season, but adding Bryant, Lin, Randle, and a dose of collective health should hopefully improve the team's record by at least eight games. It will all ultimately fall on Bryant's knees and shoulders, though. Given the team's myriad of issues last season, there couldn't be a better place. Welcome back, Kobe." - Kobe Bryant's portfolio