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NBA Team Previews: #21 Los Angeles Lakers

21) Los Angeles Lakers - 45-37 in the 2012-2013 season. 7th in the West. 3rd in the Pacific

These aren't the Lakers we're used to. Ever since Dwight Howard entered Los Angeles, it's been an utter nightmare for the Lakers. Last year was a year filled with injuries to Dwight and eventually injuries to Kobe, which will have him out for a good portion of the beginning of the season. Now with Howard in Houston, this team's roster has a ton of holes, and without Kobe for a while, it's going to be a very uphill battle for the LA Lakers to get anywhere near the playoffs this year.

Acquired: Nick Young, Wes Johnson, Chris Kaman, Jordan Farmar

Drafted: Ryan Kelly (#48)

Lost: Dwight Howard, Antwan Jamison, Chris Duhon, Metta World Peace, Earl Clark

Depth Chart:

Starters: Steve Nash (PG), Nick Young (SG), Wes Johnson (SF), Pau Gasol (PF), Chris Kaman (C)

Bench: Kobe Bryant (injury - eventual starting SG), Jordan Hill (C), Steve Blake (PG), Jordan Farmar (PG), Xavier Henry (SF)

Team Stock:

Up: Nick Young - Young always seemed like a big market kind of player to me. In his time in Philly, he was known for going off in certain games but missing consistency. I like him in LA. With Kobe out, this team needs a pure scorer, and this could help rejuvenate Young's career. He's never gonna be a "star", but he could be an exceptional role player for the future of the Lakers. Just gotta get better shot selection.

Down: Chris Kaman - It's been a tough road for Kaman. After being traded from the Clippers to the Hornets, Kaman has been on three different teams and has yet to really find his fit. He's struggled with the injury bug, and now joins a team that is clearly in a rebuilding mode. Chris is looking to get his career back on track, but it will be tough on this Los Angeles team. Only time will tell if his injury woes can be avoided and if he can get back to the form he had when he was on the other LA team in the past.

X-Factor: Pau Gasol - With Kobe out for a while, the star of this team is Pau. He will be asked to carry a huge load of the offense and defense for a team that has a lot of injured players and older veterans. Along with that, there are countless rumors surrounding the Lakers trading Pau. Depending on how he plays, the Lakers could get better or worse offers for him. No matter the case, the Lakers will be depending on Pau to have a huge year, whether he's on the team at the end of it or not.

Question to Ponder...Can Nick Young make a real difference on this team?

This team picked up Nick Young on the cheap, and while I love the signing it leaves many to wonder what kind of role he will fill, and if he'll make a real difference. He's a player who puts up a lot of shots and has a lot of work to do in his game. Can the Lakers afford a player like that? Will Kobe mesh with Young well, or will it be a disaster? What will his defense look like? A lot of questions Laker fans will find out when the season begins, and they get to see Nick Young play. Then, they will be the judges. 

Bold Prediction for the Los Angeles Lakers: Pau Gasol will be traded this year!

I just don't see the Lakers trying to continue the Kobe-Pau combo. The team is aging faster and faster, and other than possible free agents, this team doesn't really have many future assets on this roster. The only person they could use to get some is Pau, who has been a hot commodity for a couple of years now. I don't expect the Lakers to keep him on this team past this year. Expect a trade either at the trade deadline or before it.

Projected Record: 33-48 12th in the West, 3rd in the Pacific.