With Kobe in the Rearview, LA Begins a Road to Revival

All stats per : http://www.basketball-reference.com

After the worst season in franchise history (17-65), the Lakers are looking to make a complete overhaul of the culture surrounding the team as of late. Firing head coach Byron Scott was first on the agenda. After making this move Mitch Kupchak brought in Golden State assistant and former Laker champion Luke Walton to replace Scott. Walton, at only 36 years old, wants to play a “fun” style of basketball that “the fans will love”. Bringing in a young enthusiastic coach was only the first step.

LA is already set up with its young core of players; including Jordan Clarkson (23), D’Angelo Russell (19), and Julius Randle (21), but their biggest addition to this core is Duke SF Brandon Ingram. Standing at 6’9” with a 7’3” wingspan he has NBA size. He has shown a smooth shooting stroke and shot the ball efficiently. 17.3 PPG on 44% shooting from the field and 41% from three speaks for itself. He is sure to be an elite talent in this league and is a great fit for the Lakers. Another positive move by the Lakers front office was locking up Jordan Clarkson on a 4 year 50-million-dollar deal. Clarkson averaged 15.5 PPG, 4 RPG, and 2.5 APG and was a great perimeter defender. With great size (6’5”) and the ability to play both the 1 and 2 effectively, Clarkson is on path to becoming one of the best combo guards in the league a few years down the road.

Despite making several good moves this offseason, in typical Kupchak fashion there were some questionable amounts of money being handed out. Timofey Mozgov was signed to a 4 year, 64-million-dollar deal. 64 million dollars to a player that averaged 6.3 points and 4.4 rebounds in 17.5 minutes a game in the regular season and 1.2 points and 1.2 rebounds in 5.8 minutes a game in the playoffs. Mozgov was traded to the Cavs halfway through the 2015 season and was immediately slotted into the starting lineup. In 46 games he averaged 10.6 points and 7 rebounds per game and was a great presence defensively. He also shot 59% from the field and 70% from the free throw line, an above average clip for a player his size. If Mozgov can be as good as he was last season he will be a welcome addition to the Lakers roster that lacks a true big man.

Luol Deng, on the other hand, was a very solid signing. For around the same price as Kent Bazemore, Dwight Howard and Evan Turner, Deng brings a veteran presence to the locker room. He showed that although he is past his prime as a player he can still contribute. He averaged 12.3 points and 6 rebounds per game last season and shot 46% from the field. Across the board Deng’s stats are comparable to that of budding star power forward Julius Randle. Although his contract is entirely guaranteed and he would be tough to move, I have a strong belief that Deng will be a contributor to the Lakers for all four years of his contract.

The Lakers are most likely not going to make the playoffs, let alone have a winning season, but they will be a fun team to watch grow and develop. A base for the future is finally set in LA and everything doesn’t look dark. I personally am a Lakers fan and this is the first time I have felt proud to say so in a long time. Don’t sleep on the lake-show this season.

Record Prediction (30-52)

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