This week, ESPN.com has been rolling out its preseason rankings of teams in the NBA, in the process drawing the ire of Kobe Bryant, whose Lakers were picked to finished 12th in the Western Conference.
By early Wednesday morning, it was apparent that Bryant had seen the projections, based on a tweet he posted. His team was picked to finish with a 36-46 record, better than only the Jazz, Kings and Suns, hardly an unreasonable guess as to where the transitioning Lakers might fall in a strong conference.
Of course Bryant is upset by the perceived slight, but it’s not as if it’s out of keeping with what the rest of the sports world is guessing about the Lakers.
After losing Dwight Howard, they’re also hamstrung by the salary cap this summer, and their team is more an assembled cast of mercenaries, mediocre players under contract for a year, than any kind of title contender. It’s all about 2014-15 in Los Angeles, and that’s no secret.
Of course, if Bryant is healthy and some of the team’s aging stars – Pau Gasol, Steve Nash – remain healthy and step up, the Lakers could do better than these projections, though it’s hard to see them winning a playoff series, much less making the postseason.