Despite a loss to the reloaded Timberwolves, the young Lakers excite in their first preseason action.
Ever since draft night, this is the moment every Lakers fan has been waiting for. We finally got to see prized rookie Lonzo Ball in a Los Angeles Lakers jersey during some actual NBA game action. Lonzo wowed the crowd with some sick passes, even though he had a lackluster shooting night from the field. Kyle Kuzma continues to show all the teams that passed on him they made a big mistake. With these two in tow, the Lakers may finally be on the right track towards a playoff return in the 2017 season. Let’s take a look at a few key storylines from their first action.
Shabazz Muhammad would have been a nice addition
Just a few weeks ago, Shabazz Muhammad was still unsigned. He supposedly had plenty of offers, one of those was supposedly the Lakers. Going into the offseason, Shabazz was likely more than excited that he finally had a clear and defined role on the Minnesota Timberwolves. All that went away with the addition of Jimmy Butler. No hate toward Butler–as he could be the player to finally put this young team into the playoffs for the first time in many, many years–but it sure would have been nice to see Muhammad play key minutes for L.A.
It’s hard to say just where Shabazz would have fit on this Lakers roster with Brandon Ingram and Kuzma playing his primary spot. One would have to guess that he would likely have taken any minutes that Luol Deng and Kuzma will be getting throughout the season. As evident by this game, Luke Walton would have been hard pressed not to try and find minutes for the former No.2 recruit in the nation. Muhammad beat the Lakers in just about every facet of this game, finishing with 22 points and 6 rebounds, and we’ll never see what could have been; we can only imagine.
Larry Nance Jr. is not a center
Because centers Andrew Bogut and Brook Lopez were out, Walton went with an unorthodox lineup with Larry Nance Jr. starting at center. This may have just been one game, but it is very clear that Nance is not ready, nor will he ever be ready to be a legitimate starting 5 in this league. He was dominated by Karl Anthony Towns–then again who hasn’t been dominated by KAT?
One thing Nance does have an advantage over other centers will be his ability to rebound, as he wound with nine in this game, partially due to the fact that he can jump out of the gym. Stats may be stats, but one would be blind to not see that Nance had an atrocious real plus/minus of -17 against the Wolves. It sure is a good thing that the Lakers traded for Lopez in the offseason.
This game may have been a loss, but it was extremely exciting to see the Lakers finally have a reason to play again. The past few years, as we all know have been a major disaster. From the handling of Kobe’s final season to the tumultuous trade of D’Angelo Russell in the offseason.
Most of all, it is exciting to finally see the Los Angeles Lakers play basketball again, it was a long 6 months off.