By: Jason Gandhi 10/15/17
#2 Lonzo Ball, PG
#66 Andrew Bogut, C
#3 Corey Brewer, SG/SF
#31 Thomas Bryant, C
#1 Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG
#6 Jordan Clarkson, PG/SG
#9 Luol Deng, SF
#10 Tyler Ennis, PG
#5 Josh Hart, SG
#14 Brandon Ingram, SF
#0 Kyle Kuzma, PF
#11 Brook Lopez, C
#7 Larry Nance, Jr., PF
#30 Julius Randle, PF
#40 Ivica Zubac, C
Lonzo Ball (2nd overall pick, UCLA)
Andrew Bogut (free agent, Cleveland Cavaliers)
Thomas Bryant (42nd overall pick, Indiana)
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (free agent, Detroit Pistons)
Josh Hart (30th overall pick via Utah via Golden State, Villanova)
Kyle Kuzma (27th overall pick via Brooklyn via Boston, Utah)
Brook Lopez (traded from Brooklyn Nets)
Tarik Black (free agent, Houston Rockets)
Timofey Mozgov (traded to Brooklyn Nets)
David Nwaba (waived, Chicago Bulls),
Thomas Robinson (free agent, unsigned)
D’Angelo Russell (traded to Brooklyn Nets)
Metta World Peace (free agent, unsigned)
Nick Young (free agent, Golden State Warriors)
There is a new feeling around the Lakers this year than in the recent years. With Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka at the helm, there is finally realistic optimism. On June 20, the Lakers shipped D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets for Brook Lopez and the #27 pick in the upcoming 2017 draft. As noted above, that was the first of many moves! From getting Lopez, to drafting Ball and Kuzma, to signing KCP and Bogut, change was imminent.
Looking forward to this season, it is going to be about two things. Lonzo Ball and the 2018 offseason. For Lakers fans that are reading this, remember that Lonzo is still just a rookie. He is going to struggle at times and that’s okay. A similar mindset on Brandon Ingram. Ingram is 20 years old. Yes, it is reasonable to expect an increase in points but if he isn’t averaging 18-20 points per game, do not freak out. This team is young and there are growing pains.
The front office is focused on the development of the young core but staying financially flexible for the upcoming free agency. The coaching staff is focused on seeing growth from the young guys and taking the next step, and the players are focused on winning NOT TANKING.
Even if the wins don’t pile up, I can promise you one thing. This Los Angeles Lakers team will be fun to watch!
Projected Starting 5:
PG- Lonzo Ball
SG- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF- Brandon Ingram
PF- Julius Randle
C- Brook Lopez
3 Storylines to Watch:
1. Will the Lakers contend for a playoff spot? It is possible. If Ball and Ingram progress like Magic believes they have and Lopez is at the same level there is a chance. It isn’t very realistic as three of the five projected starters are new to the team and Brandon Ingram is only 21. I said it earlier and I want to emphasize this again. THERE WILL BE GROWING PAINS.
2. Julius Randle’s Contract Extension- Everyone knows the Lakers are swinging for the fences this upcoming offseason, but that does not stop their current roster. Julius Randle is available for a contract extension. Even if he earns it this year, will he get it? We will have to wait and see!
3. How does EVERYONE grow this year? The obvious two are Ball and Ingram. Their progression is crucial. But with a young team, growth needs to be prevolent everywhere. From Coach Walton, only in his second year as a head coach, all the way to Andrew Bogut and growing into his role. Kyle Kuzma’s development will be also be important to watch as he has caught fire during summer league/training camp. Watch the young team agrow and then worry about next year!
MVP: Lonzo Ball- If Paul George, Demarcus Cousins or even the mighty King James have any chance to come to LA, it will be because of Mr. Ball. His style of play is infectious and no matter what his stats may be, he is the future and the face of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Points Leader: Brook Lopez- The Lakers traded for him, yes to dump cap, but also because he provides value to a young team. He fits perfectly into Coach Walton’s system as a post that can also shoot. Lopez hit 134 3’s last year and I expect that number to be just as high this year!
Best Case Scenario: 40-42- Ball balls out (I had to do it), Ingram is an 18-20 point scorer, Kuzma stays hot… if all of these things come together and the Lakers learn some defense, a 40-win season is possible.
Worst Case Scenario: 23-59- The growing pains are evident and the “process” back to success is slower than expected. It isn’t crazy to think the Lakers will struggle due to their youth.
The season is only 4 days away Laker fans!!! The Ball Era begins!