They will make the playoffs definetly. Kobe is a great player and he will lead his team. Shaq's presence will of course hurt since he is the most dominating player in the league. Kobe is a dominant player and with Shaq out he will show that he can lead his team.
With Shaq out I can see them making the 4th seed at the highest. With Shaq out, the Kings, Mavs, Spurs and others are better than the lakers.
Just as long as they're in the playoffs somewhere, and Shaq's up to atleast 90% they'll be fine and feeling right at home, as for Kobe he's gonna do whatever it takes to keep their own pace. Shaq is expected to miss the 1st month, I guess January got brought up, depending on when he'll have the surgery. We'll see what happens, but the last thing Kobe will do is burn himself out and try and carry the entire load that early in the season, that's just not the Lakers & Phil's style of play.....especially if the big guy is out for a few games. I can understand if it was the playoff's, then you can bet, Kobe will step up to the challenge.
Without Shaq the Lakers are a .500 team, which is maybe a playoff team, maybe not aplayoff team so they'll get off to a slow start which could hurt their seeding in the playoffs. What if LA gets off to a slow start and slips into the 5 or 6 seed and has to play a team like Dallas or San Antonio in a best of 5 first round series without home court advantage? Also even if they do well and meet the Kings in the Western Conference Finals Shaq being out untill January means they will not have as good of a record as Sacramento which means Sac-town will have home court advantage again and I cannot see them losing to the Lakers with home court advantagea agin. Anyways, it looks like the Lakers will NOT 4-peat afterall simply because Kobe is not a team leader and cannot lead a team of Scrubs (Scrubs (noun): The entire Los Angeles Lakers roster not including Shaq or Kobe.) to a great record.
I think the Lakers will thake a healthy and well rested Shaq over over a #2 or #3 seed anyday. The Lakers won it all last year without the #1 seed and without Shaq at 100%. And who says a healthy Shaq guarantees us a #1 seed anyway? Bottom line: The Lakers have never really taken the regular season seriously and aren't about to start now. They will coast through the 82 games and probably settle into a #3 or #4 seed and play from there.
Shaq could miss up to NINE games but may be back by the start of the season as his recoup time will probably not be as long as first reported. He will be able to walk the day of the surgery and run 6 weeks after the surgery. Shaq is NOT missing 2 months of the season. He's missing at most 2 weeks.