To make the playoffs, the Lakers need to be better than seven teams in the Western Conference.
In the first seven of 14 entries, the Lakers were ruled better than the New Orleans Pelicans, Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings and Utah Jazz but not as good as the Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs and Clippers.
Are the Lakers better than the Memphis Grizzlies?
Mike Conley is consistently one of the better point guards in the league. He's not elite at his position but he does almost everything well -- pass, shoot, score, defend, etc.
Memphis needs Conley to have a strong season. Behind him the team has two relatively inexperienced players in Nick Calathes and Josh Akognon. Jerryd Bayless is not a point but he can play spot minutes at the one in an emergency.
If Steve Nash is healthy, he's a better shooter and playmaker than Conley -- but not nearly the defender.
The Lakers will try to keep Nash's minutes down with two strong backups in Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar.
If Conley has pulled ahead of Nash at this point in his career, the Lakers have greater depth -- making both teams relatively even at the position, assuming Nash is on the floor night after night.
Tony Allen is one of the top defenders at his position. He can score when open, although he's not much of a shooter and not a consistent offensive threat.
Allen's defensive tenacity has been the heart of the Memphis attack the last two seasons.
Bayless is inconsistent but can score in bunches. The Grizzlies can also play Quincy Pondexter, Mike Miller, Tayshaun Prince and rookie Jamaal Franklin at the two as needed.
The Lakers are waiting to see what Kobe Bryant will be when he returns from his Achilles surgery. If he gets back to form, even if it takes until December or January, the Lakers have the clear advantage over the Grizzlies at shooting guard.
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 last two are camp invites who still have to make the team) and even point guards Blake and Farmar.
With Prince and Pondexter, the Grizzlies have two defensive-minded players at small forward.
Recently Memphis has not been a high scoring team. Prince can spot up and hit an open three, and even create a bit for himself off the dribble -- but he's on the floor to help the team get stops.
New addition Miller should help open the floor, an issue for the Grizzlies last season -- although Miller has had trouble staying healthy the last few years.
The Grizzlies can also play Allen at three and camp invitee Derrick Byars.