Los Angeles Lakers: 10 games in, similarities from last year may arise

Los Angeles Lakers, Luke Walton, Brandon Ingram (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Lakers, Luke Walton, Brandon Ingram (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

The Los Angeles Lakers 2017-18 season is showing some signs of similarity to last season.

Just over three weeks into the NBA season, and it seems as if everyone’s realistic expectations of the Los Angeles Lakers have either been met or exceeded.

So far.

The Lakers currently sit at third in the Pacific Division and 10th overall in the stacked Western Conference. After a victory over the Memphis Grizzlies, head coach Luke Walton and company have much to be happy about. A record of 5-5 for starters, and promising play from rookies Lonzo Ball, and Kyle Kuzma on top of a crew growing increasingly familiar with each other.

Lonzo, the team’s quarterback, has his work cut out for him, having to go toe-to-toe with the NBA’s premier point guards, something the NBA has plenty of. Already having faced Patrick Beverly, Kyle Lowry, John Wall, Damian Lillard and Mike Conley, Ball is just at beginning stages of his “welcome to the NBA” moments thrust on him from other point guards.

Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Lakers /

Los Angeles Lakers

There will always be much anticipation night in and night out, as the target on Lonzo’s back increasingly gets bigger. Much was made in NBA news about two weeks ago as Marcin Gortat of the Washington Wizards claimed John Wall would “torture” Lonzo Ball.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

Jack Maloney of CBS Sports reported that while Wall tried to back up Gortat’s sentiments,

"”on a few occasions, even, he tried to go right at Ball to show him “no mercy,” but came up woefully short.”"

While Lonzo and company may be targeted every night, continuing to play his game and not get caught up in the theatrics of hype and outsider’s words should always come first. Being able to build rapport amongst his teammates in their efforts of playing better together is of most importance.

With varying successes early into this season, Walton can see the areas where the team has improved versus aspects of the game that seemingly continues to detract the Lakers from becoming a consistent winner.

There are some differences between this year and the entirety of last season. While the Lakers continue to usher in a fast-paced offense, the team still needs to be better defensively. According to ESPN.com, the Lakers ended the 2016-17 campaign 28th in defense, allowing 104.6 points per game.

This year, the Lakers rank 21st in points per game, allowing 107.9. However, the Lakers defensive rating is more encouraging, as Basketball-Reference has them ranked 6th with a defensive rating of 102.8.

The Lakers are also averaging 106.4 points per game this year, which puts them 13th in the NBA.

Something that can be looked as a solid positive is a focus on rebounding Walton has instilled in the team. The Lakers currently sit in 10th versus ending last year 17th in boards.

These stats, of course, are just preliminary, and as stated above, are just three weeks into the basketball season. But even going back to the first 10 games of last year, the Lakers had a 6-4 record heading into their 11th game, losing that one by 26 to the Minnesota Timberwolves. 

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In 2016-17, the Lakers ended the month of November with a 10-10 record but went on to start their season-long eight-game losing streak on December 2nd.

This season, the Lakers’ first six opponents in December will be a visit to the Denver Nuggets, the Houston Rockets at home, then a tough east coast trip with visits to the Philadelphia 76ers, Charlotte Hornets, New York Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers. Waiting for them after that road trip will be the Golden State Warriors twice, with a meeting against the Rockets in between.

The way the 2017-18 season has trended so far, it has continued to be quite similar to the beginning of last season. Hopefully this time around, the Lakers can avoid a huge December slide, and then we can make a better comparison of progression, being a full month into the season…

Next: Los Angeles Lakers: 5 Goals to Achieve in 2017-18

Yeah, I’ll talk to you then.