Watching the Lakers prepare for this season was nothing short of a soap opera. Team owner and president Jeanie Buss fired her brother, Jim and longtime general manager Mitch Kupchak, and hired Showtime Laker Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant’s agent Rob Pelinka in their place.
Through the draft, the Lakers invited Lonzo Ball to the flourish of his outspoken father’s predictions. The roster is strikingly different, stacked with new talent and some with NBA experience. Nine players either signed, were drafted, or traded in the last four months.
Any Lakers pundit would put their trust in Magic and Buss, but their success lays in the will of the players.
Despite going 2-4 in the preseason, Lakers players showed promise through their skill and talent. Here is a list of how you can watch the Los Angeles Lakers.
One could argue that former Utah standout Kuzma is having the run expected for Ball. Like what guard Odyssey Sims did for the Sparks last summer, Kuzma contributed to offense immediately through perimeter shots. He led the Lakers in scoring for three consecutive games, two of which he scored over 20 points.
“He loves to compete,” said Lakers head coach Luke Walton, after their 104-113 loss against the Denver Nuggets. “his competitive spirit is very impressive and I think that’s what kind of drives him to keep having these nice games for us.”
Kuzma leads the NBA in total points scored with 104 points at the conclusion of the preseason. Ball and Kuzma created a strong Las Vegas Summer League campaign, helping the franchise to its first Summer League championship title.
Bigs in the Front Court
The addition of veteran seven-footers Brook Lopez and Andrew Bogut can assist Luol Deng and Julius Randle guard the basket and catch rebounds. Lopez has a strong offensive presence, averaging 20.5 points per game and making 134 three-pointers last season and shooting at 50 percent during his nine seasons with the Nets. Two times in his career, Lopez made a career high of eight blocks during one game.
“I think we have a versatile front court when you look at us,” Lopez said. “We mesh together great and I think we’re gonna definitely pick each other up.”
Australian center Bogut has recent championship experience from his four seasons with the Golden State Warriors. During the 2014-2015 season, he had a 56 percentage in field goals and averaged 8.1 rebounds per game.
Deng, hailing from the Derrick Rose era of the Chicago Bulls, averages 7.6 points per game and 5.3 rebounds per game. With Randle listed day-to-day with a rib injury, the two big men and Deng can play as substitute.
Ball is one of the most anticipated rookies this season. The Summer League championship win left him with accolades: Ball was voted tournament MVP and was named to the All NBA Summer League first team. Prior to the NBA, Ball led the NCAA with 7.6 assists per game and was Pac-12 Freshmen of the Year. Ball made five points, two steals and eight assists in against the Timberwolves, but missed several preseason games due to an ankle injury.
The roster has its share of familiar faces, including Brandon Ingram, Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson. This throng of competitors has the challenge of erasing the 26-56 overall record from last season out of the minds of their fans. Their campaign begins on Thursday as they battle Clippers and continues when they battle the Phoenix Suns in Arizona.