69.5 F
New York
Saturday, October 16, 2021

The Lakers are 0-5 in the preseason. Here’s why they aren’t worried.

For the renovated Los Angeles Lakers, the 2021-22 preseason has been…rickety.

First, and somewhat ironically, the active roster’s younger players — minus Austin Reaves and plus Trevor Ariza and Wayne Ellington — have already been hit by the injury bug. Ariza will miss two months following ankle surgery, Talen Horton-Tucker (thumb surgery) is out at least four weeks, Kendrick Nunn is dealing with a sprained ankle, preseason standout Malik Monk has a strained groin, and Ellington missed Tuesday’s game with hamstring tightness.

Also: the Lakers have lost all five of their exhibitions. On Tuesday, Los Angeles — playing with LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, and Anthony Davis for the first time — fell to the Golden State Warriors — playing without Stephen Curry and Draymond Green — 111-99 at Staples Center.

Yet, there’s no reason to sound the alarm. On the contrary: While the preseason hasn’t gone smoothly by any means, the Lakers aren’t concerned, and neither should Lakers fans nor #LakersTwitter (though the latter is a lost cause). Here are a few reasons why.

1) The Lakers are playing the long game

Since the introductory press conferences in August for the various free agent signings, the Lakers, across the board, have been on message: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Things take time. Every player who has been in front of a microphone over the past two months has uttered some version of “trust the process.”

They know an (active) roster with 11 new players won’t mesh right away, nor anytime soon. Numerous Lakers — including Westbrook, LeBron, and Carmelo Anthony — have talked about embracing the journey and challenge of building championship chemistry over the long haul rather than stress immediacy.

“It’s going to take a minute for us to become the team that we know we are going to be capable of being,” said James after Tuesday’s game. “We’re going to have moments where we’re not quite right there. We may take steps backwards…I think nothing is worth having if it’s not worth working for.”

“It could take all year to really be at our best, and ideally, that’s when we are at our best — going into the playoffs,” Vogel stated.

2) LeBron, Russ, and AD showed promise vs. Golden State

Yes, the Lakers, by their own admission, are turning the ball over too much, even for the preseason (103 in 5 games, though they don’t seem to care). And after Tuesday’s loss, Vogel cited spacing issues in lineups with AD at the 5 with Russ and LeBron on the floor.

However, the Lakers have played less than one-half of basketball with LeBron, Russ, and AD on the court together, and there are already visible positives.

For one, the Lakers pushed the pace effectively (they’ve adopted a “rebound and run” mentality encouraging any boarder besides DeAndre Jordan or Dwight Howard to push the ball themselves). It led to good looks and quick buckets or opportunities. They want to be the most devastating transition team in hoops when the 360 is out there, and we saw glimpses of that potential Tuesday.

Davis, in particular, looked as athletic and dominant as he’s been since the bubble. AD dropped 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting, aggressively ran the floor, changed shots at the rim on defense, and skied way above the rim on offense.

“We saw some great things with me, Bron and Russ in action,” AD said afterward. “There’s endless possibilities, the things we can run and we can do.”

The Lakers are revamping their offense and implementing all sorts of new action, too. Here, Westbrook steps right into an open three and drills it, as the Lakers want him to do. (He finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, five turnovers).

“We had some good spurts,” Westbrook assessed. “Obviously, it’s the first game. But there are some good things we can take from it. … We can be a little encouraged by it.”

3) The injuries aren’t too crippling

The Lakers’ two substantial injuries — Ariza and Horton-Tucker — are deflating and not unserious, but both players should recover before the end of November. The other ailments are minor.

(Preseason results are a crapshoot, but, FWIW, one could see the Lakers winning the Warriors game had they had more role players available. They lost the game in the second half once they sat their stars and went straight into a rookie-heavy lineup, while the Warriors had more proven NBA players on the floor).

Yes, it’s a lengthy injury report before opening day, but there will be time to work everybody back into form, perhaps by Christmas. As LeBron stressed after the game on Tuesday: you can always build cohesiveness in the film room.

4) The supporting cast has mostly impressed

Before going down, Monk had been the Lakers’ bright spot of the preseason — a development that turned out not to be a fluke with THT in 2020. He made 15-of-29 attempts from the field (8-of-17 from 3) and displayed an impressive shot-creation ability. He’s more than just a spot-up microwave.

Speaking of THT, his J looked more balanced and his leaner physique seemed to make him more aerodynamic. Kendrick Nunn’s two-way skills have stood out to LeBron, and he clearly adds an element of dynamic play-making that the Lakers could’ve used in recent years.

Dwight looks spry for 35, and Carmelo has shown flashes of bucket-getting (though his defense has been picked apart). His rebounding yelling is in midseason form.

Chaundee Brown (14-of-28 FG, tight defense, all-around effort) is making a case for one of the Lakers’ two-way deals currently held by Joel Ayayi and Sekou Doumbouya.

And, most notably, fellow undrafted rookie Austin Reaves has already become a Lakers folk hero who looks ready to contribute on an NBA court.

HBK could crash the Lakers rotation.

Chelsea Thomas Tuchel Romelu Lukaku

Source

Related Articles

All times for National League Championship Series announced

The entire National League Championship Series schedule between the Braves and Dodgers was announced Friday night. Each game will be aired on TBS. Source

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest Articles

All times for National League Championship Series announced

The entire National League Championship Series schedule between the Braves and Dodgers was announced Friday night. Each game will be aired on TBS. Source

Portland Trail Blazers at Golden State Warriors Live Stream: Watch Online, TV Channel, Start Time

The Warriors enter Friday's preseason finale against the Trail Blazers with a perfect 4–0 record.Stars like Golden State's Stephen Curry and Draymond Green and...

3 best small-school picks for Week 7

We're basically at the halfway mark of the college football regular season. Time flies when you're having fun. Below, we look at the best...