The best news for the Los Angeles Lakers after their first preseason game, in which they beat the Denver Nuggets? No one injured and no other health-related issues. Kobe Bryant looked rusty but dangerous, Steve Nash didn’t breakdown like a porcelain doll while Jeremy Lin, struggling to put the ball in the basket, looked at his finest when trying to make others do the scoring.
Only the preseason, but a 98-95 win over the Nuggets with plenty of pleasing moments for the Lakers isn’t a bad way to start off the season. Kobe Bryant shot an air-ball on his first attempt but ended up scoring 13 points, which included some nice moves with his back to the basket. He finished with 5-of-12 from the field and also adding five assists, playing a total of 21 minutes. Steve Nash played 20 minutes and looked good with 11 points and adding five assists, as the Lakers featured Carlos Boozer, Wesley Johnson and Jordan Hill in the frontcourt.
The more intriguing and possibly better offensive unit for the Lakers will be the bench, which didn’t feature Nick Young and Xavier Henry, which means things can get even better. Jeremy Lin led that unit with 10 assists in 28 minutes, pushing the team forward at a higher pace and not having anyone bother him with sharing the ball in the back court. During his minutes with Kobe Bryant it was a bit different, and it’s still a question about how things will be when Nick Young returns.
Lin didn’t shoot well, finishing with 0-of-6 from the field and just 1-for-3 when he got to the free throw line, but if his combination with Ed Davis (12 points and 4 blocks) and Julius Randle (10 points, 8 rebounds) continues to develop and improve, the Lakers won’t need anything from Lin in terms of scoring, which will be just a bonus as opposed to the real important work: Feeding the big men, spreading the ball and keeping the second unit running at a very fast pace.
Julius Randle played 27 minutes off the bench and nearly finished with a double double. As far as young talent goes, he is the future right now for the Lakers. He might not be a player to build a franchise around, but until the new cap situation is sorted he’s vastly important to them for being a player who can contribute now, isn’t past his peak and doesn’t cost a lot of money, especially on a team with Kobe Bryant playing for it.
This is just the beginning, but the Lakers think they have a shot of not just doing better than last season, which isn’t that difficult, but also making the playoffs. It remains to be seen how things click on this team and who is going to play defense, but if Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash don’t get injured, the outlook looks good. If Jeremy Lin is used correctly and doesn’t get wasted like under Kevin McHale? Even better for him, and obviously for the team.