To make the playoffs, the Lakers need to be better than seven teams in the Western Conference.
After 10 of 14 entries, the Lakers were ruled better than the New Orleans Pelicans, Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz but not as good as the Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State Warriors and Clippers.
Are the Lakers better than the Houston Rockets?
For a stretch two seasons ago, Jeremy Lin was one of the most exciting point guards in basketball as he burst onto the NBA scene with the New York Knicks.
Now going into the second season of his contract with the Rockets, Lin has settled into a steady, albeit less spectacular, role. Last year he averaged 13.4 points and 6.1 assists a game while shooting 44.1% from the field.
The heroics he was called upon for in New York haven't been as prevalent with the Rockets, but Lin helped Houston advance to the playoffs.
Steve Nash, at full strength, is the better shooter and playmaker, although Lin is the better defender.
The Rockets also have the underrated Patrick Beverley behind Lin along with Aaron Brooks and Isaiah Canaan.
The Lakers have two solid reserves backing Nash in Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar. The team is expecting a lot out of both, even if that means minutes at shooting guard.
If Nash is healthy, the Lakers might have a slight edge or, at worst, are even with the Rockets at point guard.
James Harden is among the best shooting guards in the league. If there's any team that can come close to rivaling a healthy Kobe Bryant, it's the Rockets.
Harden is a high-volume scorer who can pass and defend. He's not quite at Bryant's level -- certainly not from a career point of view -- but given the Achilles' tendon injury from which Bryant is recovering, Harden might have the edge.
If Bryant can return to full strength as early as November or December, he might eclipse Harden, but that's a lot to ask after such a devastating injury.
The Rockets also have Francisco Garcia, a good defender and spot-up shooter, at the two. Both Ronnie Brewer and Reggie Williams are trying to make the team.
Behind Bryant, the Lakers boast a long list of players who will fight for minutes, including Jodie Meeks, Nick Young, Wesley Johnson, Xavier Henry and Darius Johnson-Odom (the latter two are camp invitees who still have to make the team) as well as point guards Blake and Farmar.
The Lakers' season could depend on Bryant's health. The Rockets are extremely talented at two guard.
Chandler Parsons is a reliable floor spacer for the Rockets. Last season he shot 38.5% from three-point range and 48.6% from the field.