The 2023 preseason is officially in the books. Next time fans see the Los Angeles Lakers in action it will be in a game that actually counts toward something in the regular-season opener against the Denver Nuggets.
Los Angeles finished the preseason with a 2-4 record, which might seem like a slow start is on the horizon but that is not the case at all. Preseason outcomes do not matter, especially when most of the games consisted of a contingent of G League players.
What matters in the preseason is the players getting in shape and the lessons that fans learn. And even though the returning cast is familiar from last season, fans certainly learned a lot in these six games.
3 crucial lessons Lakers fans learned during the 2023 preseason:
1. This is Anthony Davis’ team
Look, LeBron James is an all-time great and he is obviously a very important part of the championship equation. The Lakers are not going to win anything if LeBron isn’t playing a big role for the team.
But this team is going to go as far as Anthony Davis takes it. That was apparent in the preseason both in how he was used offensively and in how Darvin Ham specifically crafted lineups around Davis to make him more comfortable.
This is AD’s team and if the Lakers are going to go anywhere they need him to not only stay healthy but take that extra step that he seemingly was ready to take after the 2020 NBA Playoffs. In a perfect world, Davis will return to the All-NBA First Team this season.
2. The Lakers have more scorers than anyone else in the league
AD and LeBron definitely lead the ship and will be the biggest factors in the regular season. What really puts the Lakers over the edge is just how many scorers is on this basketball team. It is actually obscene how much offense this team has as no other team in the league can really match it.
Austin Reaves has emerged as the third scorer on this Lakers team and there should be no more doubts about whether or not he is qualified for that kind of leap. Reaves more than proved that he is capable this summer.
But it doesn’t stop there. Los Angeles has Rui Hachimura, D’Angelo Russell and Christian Wood who can all hang a 25-spot on any team on any given night. That is on top of a foundation that has other solid scoring role players such as Gabe Vincent, Taurean Prince and Max Christie.
Simply put, this team can score and there will be different players on different nights who carry LA to success.
3. D’Angelo Russell is the breakout player of 2023-24
All signs are pointing toward D’Angelo Russell having a great season for the purple and gold and this is coming from someone who is not the biggest fan of Russell. There is no doubt that Russell is talented but he has not played the game in a way that translates to winning.
That may change this season and might turn Russell into a legitimate asset. Russell has said all the right things during the preseason about being a defensive difference-maker for the purple and gold. Better yet, he is showing up and proving it on a nightly basis in the preseason.
Russell doesn’t need to be a 25-point-per-game scorer for the Lakers. If he can do what he already does scoring-wise and adds smart playmaking and average defending then it might be time to get sized for a championship ring.