The Los Angeles Lakers are healthy, have new direction and a solid team mentality, and contrary to what the so called experts are saying, they WILL make the NBA playoffs next year.
Charles Barkley will be eating his words next season, and I'm sure there will be plenty of people to remind him to do so. He won't be the only one either, as many people expect the purple and gold to flop in 2014-15.
To find out why they will succeed, forget the metrics and stats about last season, and look at three intangibles.
First, both Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant have the heart of a champion, and the work ethic to go with it, and they will man up and make it through next season and surprise some haters along the way. Nash, although he is 40, is healthy for the first time in 2 years. Kobe, 36, is also healthy and has been doing the prep work to get his body and game where it needs to be. Both have to be tired of the "old man" talk, and are going to go to work like spring chickens when the season starts. If there are two guys in the NBA you can count on this from, it's these two superstars.
Next, you can't underestimate the power of having a coach like Byron Scott. He is going to bring a team first mentality and an understanding of the game of basketball that few others on the planet possess. Yes, the naysayers will point to his struggles in Cleveland as they rebuilt the team left empty after Lebron James left town, but don't forget, sometimes in life it takes a little fertilizer for things to grow well. Scott is going to take the things he has learned about the triangle offense to keep the offense scoring, and he is going to implement a new defensive mindset that is going to bring more wins next season. As a true apostle of the "Showtime" style, he will bring that game, but as a veteran who has been down a few hard roads, he will bring some well thought out X's and O's on both sides of the court, too.
FInally, adding a team first player like Jeremy Lin, and some rookies willing to learn like Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson this offseason will help create a locker room that will lead to surprising success. Look for much maligned Carlos Boozer and Michael Beasley to settle in to this system and new culture and rise to the occasion. They want it as bad as anyone, and will relish the good team dynamic, once the Lakers start winning. Beasley in particular is going to surprise people with his maturity, and will finally start to hit the expectations everyone has for him.
Do not fret fans of the purple and gold; just remember, haters are going to hate, especially if they are paid to do it.
That is nothing new, but the Lakers team that hits the floor next year will be. Forget last year. Look for the Lakers to be one of the great surprises of the upcoming season.
Follow Don Pittman on Twitter @DonaldPittman.