Will the Los Angeles Lakers will make the playoffs this season? Probably not. Is Luke Walton the new best head coach in the NBA? Too soon to tell. Is D’Angelo Russell going to be a superstar point guard? Maybe. One thing is certain: The Lakers look like they like playing with each other.
Does it have anything to do with Kobe Bryant and Byron Scott not being on the ticket? Well… I’ll avoid bashing the dynamic duo after a few busy years, at least for today. The Lakers beat the Houston Rockets 120-114. It doesn’t mean much, because if you remember, everyone was hyped about the Philadelphia 76ers beating the Miami Heat to open the 2013-2014 season. Michael Carter-Williams was Michael Jordan for one day. Then the process happened, and some say it’s still going on.
The Lakers can’t defend. Not right now at least. It might improve down the line, but at the moment, until the fourth quarter when they finally figured out that the Rockets have about 1.5 moves and all of them involve James Harden holding onto the ball, defense is an issue. Luckily for them, this team is young and it can run. Walton probably would have liked to see more than 21 assists on the 45 made field goals, especially from Russell, but the Lakers have their fans excited about the upcoming season. At least until they find out it’s not going to be this easy to score against everyone.
The whole first unit-second unit thing is going to need to get worked out. Jordan Clarkson scored 25 points in 25 minutes, but he’s too good of a player compared to the rest of this team to get so little time. D’Angelo Russell finished with 20 points in 29 minutes. Julius Randle was extremely efficient with 19 points, as was Brandon Ingram in his debut, scoring 9 points on 4-of-6 from the field. The Lakers can play some interesting small ball lineups that are long and fast.
But there are still players like Nick Young and Lou Williams on this team. Williams wasn’t bad, but he’s one-dimensional as can be, and perhaps a bit redundant at times. You can say that with an even bigger emphasis about Young, who shot just 3-for-12 and basically, the Lakers are stuck with him on the roster until the season is over, due to a bad decision based on his numbers in a tanking year playing for stat-bloating Mike D’Antoni basketball.
But at least for one game, let’s forget about the pessimism, and rejoice that the Lakers might not be consistently good (maybe we are, we don’t know yet), but at least fun and interesting a good way, meaning no drama. I’m not a Lakers fan, far from it to be honest, but the group of guys they have on this team right now makes it a lot easier to at least try and want for them to be part of the season, and not waste talent away so one megalomaniac can have the retirement season he’s always dreamed of.