Projecting the L.A. Lakers' Final Regular Season Record

Danny DukkerCorrespondent IIJanuary 9, 2013

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 08:  Steve Nash #10 of the Los Angeles Lakers waits on the court during the game against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center on January 8, 2013 in Houston, Texas. Nash became just the fifth player in NBA history to reach 10,000 career assists Tuesday night. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers are a tough team to project for. On one hand, they have a loaded roster with Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol.

On the other hand, they are 15-20 and are currently on a five-game losing streak. So let's start with that 15-20. What has gone wrong?

For starters, Steve Nash has missed 24 games this season, more than he has missed in his past five seasons combined. The No. 1 priority for the Lakers this year was to build chemistry among their stars.

Not an easy thing to do when the floor general misses nearly the first third of the season. To add to it, Dwight Howard hasn't looked 100 percent since coming back from his back injury.

The injury problems are not over apparently as Dwight is going to miss some time with a shoulder injury. LA would probably be all right, except that his backup Jordan Hill is out as well.

Both players don't expect to miss too much time, but with the current record, the Lakers can't just let losses slide.

Do-or-die time came a lot sooner than most LA fans expected, and the talks of a title are long gone. At this point, it's making the playoffs that's a question mark.

So, let's get to some projections. The Lakers have been with Mike D'Antoni since early November, and their fourth-ranked offense isn't the problem.

The killers for the Lakers have been chemistry, free-throw shooting, the awful bench play and defense. That list is way longer than it should be for a team like LA.

With time, chemistry will improve, and the free throw should improve slightly, but the other two are more troubling.

Outside of a trade, it's hard to see bench play getting any better than it has been. Antawn Jamison has been a huge disappointing, and the only valuable backup they seem to have is Jordan Hill.

Their record for the rest of the season is pretty unforgiving as they face the Thunder three times and the Clippers and Heat twice.

There are of course winnable games, but the Lakers don't have a lot of time to really get their act together before some tough games need to be played.

Games that their 26th-ranked defense is not going to enjoy. People can scream for a coaching change all they want, but that would be a move that would decidedly eliminate them from any contention.

This isn't a video game, where any piece that doesn't work can easily be replaced without any detrimental effect to the team. The Lakers aren't changing coaches unless they are giving up.

With all that said, we have a team that is one of the worst defensive teams in the league, and one whose stars haven't played much time together.

If we were only 10-15 games into the season, then I would say this team should stay positive. Unfortunately, we are now 35 games in.

The schedule gets harder with more road games. Their defense will be tested and they are an old team. At this point in time, being an optimist is not easy in LA unless you are a Clippers fan.

When listing the positives to this team, only two big things come up: offense and star power. Those have been there from the beginning, and you can see how many wins it has gotten them.

I'm not going to be too popular with this projection, but all I want to be is realistic.

Final Record: 38-44


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