The thing about being a Lakerfan is that all of the successes the team's enjoyed lead you to being... a bit unrealistic during years that in all likelihood will be not quite up to measure.
Take this year for example:
Kobe Bean Bryant is recovering from surgery to repair his achilles tendon, and from personal experience - it's not an easy path to traverse. I tore mine a month after Kobe, believe it or not, and whilst he's younger, incredibly fit and has legendary healing properties - I still can't imagine him playing 'soon'. 5 months post surgery, and I can do light running, bike riding (16 km every day!)... but no basketball! I'd imagine 6-7 months for Kobe, which means Dec/Jan (my personal bet is Christmas Day vs Miami!).
Sans Kobe, LA looks to guys like gunner Nick Young, Steve Blake (no inside game), Xavier Henry and Jodie Meeks to fulfill that roll. Ummm... anyone else see a problem there?
Dwight Howard left, and left a whole that we're asking a rejuvenated Jordan Hill, and Chris Kaman to fill that void. Not that it will take much to replicate the production D12 gave last season, but then last season was hardly what was expected any way.
MWP left. Honestly? I'll miss the artist formerly known as Ron Artest far more than Dwight. Peace brought... well... 'peace' to the locker room, and was a quirky upbeat presence. Amazing to say that about a guy responsible for the worst event in the NBA's history.
Everyone's a year older. Now, this is true for most teams, but when the key pieces of a team had '30' on their cakes several years ago... it's a problem. Steve Nash, Pau Gasol, Chris Kaman are all good players - but their best years are locked in the vault of history.
But even in light of all of that... I still believe. I believe that this season will be a more successful season than the last. I believe that the Lakers will make the playoffs. I believe that the team will be more enjoyable to watch, and I believe that the players will enjoy themselves more this season. I believe #24 comes back, and for the time he plays this season, is a top 10 player.
Naysayers will yelp, "WHAT!?? Subtract Dwight Howard, and you think you'll be better?"
Well, yes. Let's at least be honest here: Dwight was nowhere near 'as advertised'. And clearly, he was unhappy and uncommitted. That lead to an obviously troubled team, uncertain about pretty much everything - play, future, everything.
I believe it when I hear guys like Pau Gasol talking about how "there's a more positive vibe this season".
With all clarity, I shouldn't be thinking this way... but here I am. If I were an NBA betting man, I'd be putting some dollars on the Lakers to make the playoffs.
Hell, I might just do that any way.