What Should We Expect From The Lakers?
Gradual Improvement Is The Logical Answer As The Season Begins
October 12, 2017
I went to Staples Center Tuesday night. It was just an exhibition game but I wanted to see how much improvement the Lakers have made since Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka took over the difficult task of bringing back to life a once great franchise.
I thought a game against Utah, which has rebuilt to become a playoff team, would tell me a lot.
And it did.
The game was close, the Lakers had leads in the fourth quarter but they lost 105-99.
The team with more stars often takes over a close game and the Lakers didn’t have an answer for Rudy Gobert, the Jazz’s 25-year-old center from France who progressed so well last season.
You may recall that the Jazz edged the Clippers for the No. 4 playoff seed last season. They’ve lost their star, Gordon Hayward, who became a free agent and signed with the Boston Celtics but Gobert seems capable of being the main man now.
I’m not building a case off one exhibition game but it was a game that made me think of Kobe Bryant making vital last minute shots before his injuries.
When Luke Walton was asked who’d be the
most likely Laker to take game-deciding three-point shots this season he replied “Kyle Kusma and Brook Lopez.”
Those two have earned the right with their recent performances. But Kusma is a rookie and Lopez rarely shot a three-pointer in his first 10 NBA years before hitting 73 of them for the New York Nets last season
What I’m trying to say is the Lakers are making progress but they don’t have an elite newcomer like they hope to have next season.
They’re 1-4 in exhibition games but heralded point guard Lonzo Ball has missed all but one with a leg injury and he should be ready for the regular season games next week.
He’ll bring excitement and he’ll play a major role. But any rookie who played only one college year will have a lot to learn.
I see Golden State, San Antonio, Houston, Oklahoma City. Utah and Minnesota as likely Western Conference playoff teams this season. Then probably the Clippers and Memphis. Lets see if anyone else can crash the party.