For the last few seasons, the Los Angeles Lakers have found themselves in unfamiliar waters. They have remained at the bottom of the standings, and the players of their future have had a roller coaster of ups and downs. From the career starting injury to Julius Randle, too the inconsistent minutes and play of D’Angelo Russell, skepticism has remained high.
This off-season feels like a turning point for the franchise. After a few swing and misses with coaches, they hired Luke Walton, who just about everyone around the team and league speaks very highly of.
Veterans from around the league have told Russell, “You got Luke man, you’re gonna be good”, via Bleacherreport’s Kevin Ding. Veterans speaking so highly of the former role player seems to be giving the young players extreme confidence. His ability to relate and communicate to them is expected to allow them to grow their game while showing their talent.
Los Angeles’s young core features Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell,Larry Nance Jr., and the “older” Jordan Clarkson. The Lakers scouting department hit a home run with Clarkson, as we was taken 46th overall and has proven his talent in his first few seasons. Nance has also shown he has great upside, and he was taken 27th overall. This gives hope that late picks Anthony Brown and Ivica Zubac can one day become contributors to the team.
The young core has been discussed a lot; Randle is a double-double machine with room to grow, Ingram has a unique body build and natural scoring ability, Russell is a big guard that has shown a stroke and ability to make flashy plays, Nance Jr. seems to provide energy on every play, and Clarkson is another big guard that can get buckets.
These players, with all their potential, still need to fulfill it. Bringing in Walton was a great first move by the organization. I think more great moves have come via free agency, where many have criticized their signings. I am not saying Deng and Mozgov will statistically live up to their contracts, as that may be impossible for them to do.
Luol Deng is a solid veteran who knows the importance of defense. While he may be taking minutes from Ingram early in his career, he will also be going up against him everyday in practice. For a player that is going to have to adjust to the physical defense played in the NBA, what better way to learn then everyday in practice. Deng will help Ingram grow as a defender, and in terms of basketball IQ.
Mozgov will not be an All-Star, we know that. Throughout his career though, he has proved to be a reliable post threat and solid pick-and-roll big. He can help take pressure off the young guys, as well as give them a viable threat to dish it too.
Excitement should be through the roof in Laker Land. These guys are excited to be here and are ready to become the future.