The post-Kobe Lakers seem to be heading in an exciting direction under new head coach Luke Walton.
The Lakers won at the Staples Center against Phoenix last night to move their record for the season to 4-3 after seven games.
Last season they did not win their fourth game of the year until December 15th. This term, they have four wins within the opening two weeks of the season, a dramatic improvement.
The Lakers have now won three straight games, beating Atlanta and Golden State prior to last nights match up. They currently are 2nd in the league in scoring, averaging 110 points per game.
This run of victories has moved Walton and the Lakers above 500, and a string of impressive performances are beginning to turn heads around the league, especially their win against the Warriors last Friday, the team Walton left to become head coach in LA.
After acquiring free agents Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng in free agency, the new-look Lakers team now has a mix of veterans and young stars, with the likes of D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr.and Brandon Ingram bringing a new up-tempo brand of basketball to a Lakers team that have struggled over the past few seasons.
D’Angelo Russell has started the season strongly, averaging 16 points and 5 assists, showing glimpses of his potential and possibly a sign of the future, where he could be the superstar of the team. If he can produce these sorts of numbers throughout the season, or even improve on them, then there will be no doubt Russell is the right point guard to lead this team forward.
The second overall pick in the 2016 draft, Brandon Ingram, has averaged 6 points, 3 rebounds and 1 assist to start his NBA career. The Lakers will be looking to nurture Ingram and develop him into a star. He has a body very similar to a young Kevin Durant, and needs to put on some weight and get stronger before he can begin to lead the team.
Lou Williams could be a contender for Sixth Man of The Year at the end of the season. He has averaged 15 points and 4 assists per game as the backup point guard, and his efforts off the bench will put him in the mix with the likes of Jamal Crawford for the award come the end of the season.
The Lakers currently have five players averaging more than 13 points per game so far. D’Angelo Russell (15.9), Lou Williams (15.3), Julius Randle (14.4), Jordan Clarkson (14.1) and Nick Young (13.7) have all scored in double digits throughout the opening seven games.
It seems that there isn’t one individual player carrying the scoring load. Multiple different players are contributing points, and different players lead the team each night, which emphasizes good team cohesion. There is no pressure on the young players to carry the team, it is a team effort. Walton has clearly carried over his knowledge from the Warriors offensive style, where multiple different players score the basketball.
There is plenty of competition for starting spots on this team, and with two of their top 5 scorers (Lou Williams and Jordan Clarkson) coming off the bench, there is no doubt that when the reserves step in to give the starters some rest, they can produce points and boost the Lakers’ chances of winning games.
The Lakers have proved many critics wrong with a strong start to the season, and will look to build on it with more wins over the next 10 games to consolidate their position in the West.
This leads on to the question, how good can the Lakers realistically be this season? Will they be able to maintain a season around 500? There is no doubt the Lakers will be a very strong team in the future, but it appears that the current roster aren’t looking to build for the future, they want to win now.
The roster looks exciting and strong from all angles, and there is no doubt that the Lakers are finally a team on the rise once again.