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25 Sep 2017

Los Angeles Lakers: NBA season preview, roster and schedule 2018

Los Angeles Lakers: NBA season preview, roster and schedule
2018

The Lakers now have a new face of their franchise in Lonzo Ball, but can the rookie quickly lead the franchise back to playoff contention?

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Offseason Recap

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Projected Depth Chart

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Strengths

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Weaknesses

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Player to Watch - Lonzo Ball

Offseason Recap

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

Strengths

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.

Weaknesses

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