Arrivals: Lonzo Ball, Brook Lopez, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Thomas Bryant, Briante Weber, Vander Blue, Alex Caruso, Stephen Zimmerman, V.J. Beachem
Departures: D’Angelo Russell, Timofey Mozgov, Nick Young, Tarik Black, Thomas Robinson, David Nwaba, Metta World Peace
The Lakers quietly had one of the better offseasons in the league. As expected, they got their man in Lonzo Ball with the second pick in the draft. In Ball, the Lakers potentially have that potential franchise-changing player that they’ve been missing during their rebuild.
They picked up a couple of interesting pieces as well with Josh Hart and Kyle Kuzma, both of whom could be able to contribute immediately as rookies.
Ball’s arrival more than made up for the loss of D’Angelo Russell, whom the team sacrificed to the Brooklyn Nets to rid themselves of Timofey Mozgov’s onerous contract. They also picked up a rock-solid veteran in Brook Lopez in the Russell deal and were able to sign Kentavious Caldwell-Pope on a one-year deal after the guard couldn’t agree on a long-term deal with the Pistons.
Meanwhile, they’ve filled up the rest of their roster smartly as they re-signed Tyler Ennis to be their backup point guard, as well as veteran Andrew Bogut to be another big man off the bench.
Projected Depth Chart
C – Brook Lopez / Ivica Zubac / Andrew Bogut / Thomas Bryant
PF – Julius Randle / Larry Nance Jr. / Kyle Kuzma
SF – Brandon Ingram / Luol Deng / Corey Brewer
SG – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope / Jordan Clarkson / Josh Hart
PG – Lonzo Ball / Tyler Ennis / Briante Weber
The Lakers have the pieces to take a significant step up on offense this season. A lot will be expected of Ball to lead the offense, and while he’ll still have some learning to do in the half court, he’ll have a young and athletic team around him to cater to his main strength, which is in transition. Watching him orchestrate fast breaks with the likes of Ingram, Nance, and Kuzma running the floor could see a return of the Showtime Lakers.
The addition of Lopez is a major upgrade over what they had at center last season. His shooting should do wonders to the team’s spacing. Randle, in particular, could be the main beneficiary of that extra space now that he has more room to work on the post and when he’s making his drives to the lane. And when Randle is out, the Lakers can play Ingram and/or Kuzma and potentially have all five players on the floor capable of hitting threes.
Meanwhile, LA sneakily have some good depth. They’ve got decent options at nearly every position. Kuzma had an impressive Summer League stint, and even though he’s got the tools to be a capable 3-and-D wing, he might be third choice in either forward spot at the moment.
The Lakers were dead last in defense last season, and figure to be right at the bottom once again. Apart from Caldwell-Pope and Nance, they’re still lacking in other above-average defenders on their rotation. Their two young stars, Ball and Ingram, are still liabilities on that end of the floor. They could also continue to struggle in terms of defensive rebounding, with Lopez a below average rebounder for a big man.
The Lakers gave up too many turnovers last season, which is to be expected from a young team. With a maverick like Ball now running the show and attempting his share of risky passes, don’t expect that figure to change all that much. Unless they patch up their transition defense, they could be susceptible to giving up a good share of fast-break points.
The overall lack of experience on the roster will also hold the team back. This is still a very young group that doesn’t quite know how to win in the NBA yet. They’ll likely experience a lot of growing pains this season in terms of failing to close out games in winning situations, especially since they don’t yet have a go-to guy who knows how to operate in the clutch.
Player to Watch – Lonzo Ball
There is clearly a ton of hype and attention on Lonzo Ball entering his rookie season. He only fueled that hype by his spectacular showing during Las Vegas Summer League, where he ran the show like a seasoned vet.
While the 20-year-old still needs some more polish to his game overall, he could be just as exciting and entertaining as anticipated right off the jump as he takes control of a fast-paced Lakers offense. Some of the passes he can make are breathtaking. Ball will be given a lot of rope to make mistakes, which is why he is a big favorite to win Rookie of the Year. He's going to play a lot and he's going to make a lot of dazzling plays.
The Lakers are must-watch TV once again, and Ball is a major reason for it. His presence not only makes the Lakers relevant for the first time in a long while, he could also make them a lot of fun.
1 Oct 19, 2017 vs. Los Angeles Clippers
2 Oct 20, 2017 @ Phoenix Suns
3 Oct 22, 2017 vs. New Orleans Pelicans
4 Oct 25, 2017 vs. Washington Wizards
5 Oct 27, 2017 vs. Toronto Raptors
6 Oct 28, 2017 @ Utah Jazz
7 Oct 31, 2017 vs. Detroit Pistons
8 Nov 2, 2017 @ Portland Trail Blazers
9 Nov 3, 2017 vs. Brooklyn Nets
10 Nov 5, 2017 vs. Memphis Grizzlies
11 Nov 8, 2017 @ Boston Celtics
12 Nov 9, 2017 @ Washington Wizards
13 Nov 11, 2017 @ Milwaukee Bucks
14 Nov 13, 2017 @ Phoenix Suns
15 Nov 15, 2017 vs. Philadelphia 76ers
16 Nov 17, 2017 vs. Phoenix Suns
17 Nov 19, 2017 vs. Denver Nuggets
18 Nov 21, 2017 vs. Chicago Bulls
19 Nov 22, 2017 @ Sacramento Kings
20 Nov 27, 2017 @ Los Angeles Clippers
21 Nov 29, 2017 vs. Golden State Warriors
22 Dec 2, 2017 @ Denver Nuggets
23 Dec 3, 2017 vs. Houston Rockets
24 Dec 7, 2017 @ Philadelphia 76ers
25 Dec 9, 2017 @ Charlotte Hornets
26 Dec 12, 2017 @ New York Knicks
27 Dec 14, 2017 @ Cleveland Cavaliers
28 Dec 18, 2017 vs. Golden State Warriors
29 Dec 20, 2017 @ Houston Rockets
30 Dec 22, 2017 @ Golden State Warriors
31 Dec 23, 2017 vs. Portland Trail Blazers
32 Dec 25, 2017 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
33 Dec 27, 2017 vs. Memphis Grizzlies
34 Dec 29, 2017 vs. Los Angeles Clippers
35 Dec 31, 2017 @ Houston Rockets
36 Jan 1, 2018 @ Minnesota Timberwolves
37 Jan 3, 2018 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
38 Jan 5, 2018 vs. Charlotte Hornets
39 Jan 7, 2018 vs. Atlanta Hawks
40 Jan 9, 2018 vs. Sacramento Kings
41 Jan 11, 2018 vs. San Antonio Spurs
42 Jan 13, 2018 @ Dallas Mavericks
43 Jan 15, 2018 @ Memphis Grizzlies
44 Jan 17, 2018 @ Oklahoma City Thunder
45 Jan 19, 2018 vs. Indiana Pacers
46 Jan 21, 2018 vs. New York Knicks
47 Jan 23, 2018 vs. Boston Celtics
48 Jan 26, 2018 @ Chicago Bulls
49 Jan 28, 2018 @ Toronto Raptors
50 Jan 31, 2018 @ Orlando Magic
51 Feb 2, 2018 @ Brooklyn Nets
52 Feb 4, 2018 @ Oklahoma City Thunder
53 Feb 6, 2018 vs. Phoenix Suns
54 Feb 8, 2018 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
55 Feb 10, 2018 @ Dallas Mavericks
56 Feb 14, 2018 @ New Orleans Pelicans
57 Feb 15, 2018 @ Minnesota Timberwolves
58 Feb 23, 2018 vs. Dallas Mavericks
59 Feb 24, 2018 @ Sacramento Kings
60 Feb 26, 2018 @ Atlanta Hawks
61 Mar 1, 2018 @ Miami Heat
62 Mar 3, 2018 @ San Antonio Spurs
63 Mar 5, 2018 vs. Portland Trail Blazers
64 Mar 7, 2018 vs. Orlando Magic
65 Mar 9, 2018 @ Denver Nuggets
66 Mar 11, 2018 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
67 Mar 13, 2018 vs. Denver Nuggets
68 Mar 14, 2018 @ Golden State Warriors
69 Mar 16, 2018 vs. Miami Heat
70 Mar 19, 2018 @ Indiana Pacers
71 Mar 22, 2018 @ New Orleans Pelicans
72 Mar 24, 2018 @ Memphis Grizzlies
73 Mar 26, 2018 @ Detroit Pistons
74 Mar 28, 2018 vs. Dallas Mavericks
75 Mar 30, 2018 vs. Milwaukee Bucks
76 Apr 1, 2018 vs. Sacramento Kings
77 Apr 3, 2018 @ Utah Jazz
78 Apr 4, 2018 vs. San Antonio Spurs
79 Apr 6, 2018 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
80 Apr 8, 2018 vs. Utah Jazz
81 Apr 10, 2018 vs. Houston Rockets
82 Apr 11, 2018 @ Los Angeles Clippers
The Lakers are clearly a much better team than last season. Ball will be good, Ingram will improve, and the addition of Lopez and Caldwell-Pope will help a lot. However, expecting this team to challenge for a postseason spot seems foolish. The front office would rather try to continue developing their young assets than to push for the playoffs when they're clearly not yet ready.
The Lakers still see a healthy bump up in wins as they finish 35-47, but that's only good enough to see them land at third from bottom in the West.
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