With all of the young talent on the roster, it is time for Los Angeles Lakers fans to get excited about their team.
The essence of the upcoming 2017-18 NBA season for the Los Angeles Lakers lies in the balance of powers: youth talent, and veteran stardom. It’s the Lebron James vs. Kawhi Leonard balance. It’s a reality the Lakers now stand an improved chance to win.
Lonzo Ball can be described as having the highest ceiling of any prospect from this year’s draft. Albeit a skillset that needs to be proven at the pro level, as well as a defensive mindset–or lack thereof–that demands attention if he is going to become a “superstar”.
However, Ball’s potential ceiling is staggering, his upside seemingly infinite, thus leading fans to come up with comparisons so lofty the sorts of, “Kidd” and “Magic”.
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The Lakers have simply thrown their name into the hat of contention as the team with the best group of young prospects. A starting five featuring Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Julius Randle is as full a starting lineup of shining prospects as can be seen in the NBA today.
The newly titled G-League affiliate South Bay Lakers have produced a solid role player and backup point guard in Vander Blue, who was selected as the most valuable player in the G-League last season. As well as the possibility of center, Thomas Bryant, and shooting guard, Alex Caruso making the pro team after training camp and being valuable role players, the Lakers have drafted power forward Kyle Kuzma and shooting guard Josh Hart.
Coming off the bench, they are nothing to scoff at. Kuzma won the 2017 Summer League Championship Game MVP in impressive fashion. He shot 48 percent from behind the 3-point line and averaged just under 22 points per game. It gets better; he wasn’t even a lottery pick.
The Kuzma draft pick, who was 27th overall, is crucial to understanding the Lakers’ front office’s resilience. Although Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson might use a word like “competence” or “cunning”, shipping D’Angelo Russell off to Brooklyn was not respected as smart general managing by all of Laker Land. A big reason for that outcries was it never gave Ball and Russell at least a fighting chance to play together before the cutoff of next seasons trade deadline.
However, their ability to unload the devastating contract of Timofey Mozgov, and pick up an extra draft pick in the process, was smart. Considering the rejection from a portion of the fan base, the trade did show a level of intellect and understanding of the position they commanded as leaders and decision-makers that were frankly never displayed once during the tenure of their predecessors. This is unquestionably exciting.
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As fans, it’s important to know what this all means. This is a time to be proud of the finesse and decisiveness showed in the decision making throughout the last year by the person deserving all the credit for the current organization of the Lakers front office, Jeanie Buss.
Ms. Buss is why we are even here at all. It’s exciting that the Lakers own the prospect battle in the current NBA beginning with Lonzo Ball and ending with Brandon Ingram, with several in between.
It’s exciting that Kyle Kuzma looks to be the steal of the 2017 NBA draft. It’s exciting because we get to see Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle a year further into their promising NBA development. Ingram especially, owing to the fact he looked exceedingly good in the Lakers’ first Summer League game of this year before being preemptively shut down due to cramping.
It’s this kind of mindful team building that win’s championships, and it means it’s time to get excited about the Los Angeles Lakers again; maybe for the first time since Kobe Bryant hobbled back onto the court to sink two free throws after tearing his Achilles tendon, relatively ending his career.
The Lakers are quite literally years away from an NBA championship, but the young Lakers took home some hardware in the Las Vegas Summer League, so they should look to save some room on their trophy shelves for the big ones.