Exciting times seem to be coming back to Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Lakers now have a future to look forward to. New General Manager Rob Pelinka and New President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson, off-season moves have given Lakers fans hope. With plenty of young stars currently on the roster and cap space for next year’s big free agents, the fans are hoping another Lakers dynasty will arise.
With those young stars the Lakers have just won the Las Vegas Summer League championship led by Lonzo Ball the new face of the franchise. Lonzo so far has lived up to all the hype put on him by Magic, his father Lavar, the media, and the fans. During the Summer League he won the MVP averaging 16.3 PPG, 7.7 RPG, and a summer league record 9.3 Assist Per Game. Lonzo’s play even has veterans on the team excited to play with Lonzo said coach Luke Walton during an interview at the Lakers game.
Next, the Lakers other first round pick Kyle Kuzma from Utah shined during summer league play. He averaged 21.9 PPG through the eight games and carried the team during the championship game with a thirty point and ten rebound performance, that not only won the game but earned him championship game MVP.
Now how will this summer league successfully translate to the regular season. The signing of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to play the off guard next to Lonzo will really help. He can defend both guard positions which will leave Lonzo against the lesser of the two guard match-ups on opposing teams. This way Lonzo will have more energy to run the offense, this strategy is similar to what the Warriors do with Klay and Steph. Caldwell-Pope is also very reliable to play in every game. In his first four seasons in the NBA he is averaging 78.5 games played per season. Caldwell-Pope staying healthy will allow him and Lonzo’s back-court chemistry to develop quickly.
Gaining Brook Lopez via trade on June 22 gave the Lakers a good post presence that can score and can operate out of the post efficiently. Along with post play Lopez also elevated his three point shooting last season. Going from 14.3% in the 2015-16 season to 34.6% in the 2016-17 season. This creates more spacing on the floor for players to drive or cut, and creates a pick and pop option in the pick and roll with Lonzo.
Then, with Brandon Ingram expected to make a leap in production this year you will have a lethal wing scorer to pair with Lonzo’s great passing. Julius Randle’s ability to run the floor is perfect for the way Lonzo likes to push the tempo on the floor and creates a dangerous projected starting five. Clarkson, Nance Jr, Zubac, Kuzma will most likely come off the bench and cap off the Lakers rotation.
The pressing question that must be asked is will this young talent produce a playoff birth this season. That seems very far fetched because the West is too talented and the Lakers have no certified star at the moment. Lonzo and Ingram will become stars but in a few years not right now. Also, don’t forget the Lakers finished fourteenth last year in the western conference and other teams who didn’t make the playoffs last year got extremely better. For Example, Minnesota and Denver added all stars which should carry them into the playoffs.
The key for the Lakers to return to dominance and championship pedigree lies within the new front office. If Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson are able to recruit superstars to come play in LA with these developing young players then they can contend. If Los Angeles strikes out on free agents like they have the past few years they will continue to be selecting in the lottery and would be wasting the prime years of Lonzo Ball’s career. With Magic being able to teach him and mentor him on how to use his great passing gift, Lonzo has the potential to be the next great point guard to enter the league. If Lonzo is able to produce half of what Magic’s career was he will be a Hall of Famer and the Lakers will once again be champions.