Tomorrow marks the Lakers first preseason game of the year as they’ll take on the Minnesota Timberwolves in London, England. Below is a short list of things to pay attention to in not only the Lakers’ first preseason game.
1. The Starters
There are going to be problems both offensively and defensively. It’s unrealistic to ask for any basketball team to come back from the offseason and be sharp in their first preseason game. However, I do think shooting is worth paying attention to. It’s not a secret, Derek Fisher and Ron Artest really struggled from the line last season and have been working during camp to improve their long distance strokes. It’s one thing to knock down shots against guys you see every day, it’s another thing having the confidence to knock down shots against new defenders. I don’t necessarily think that this preseason will set the tone for the full season, but I do think we’ll be able to get some idea about the improvements of those two in particular.
2. The Reserves
With Andrew Bynum not playing for a while, Lamar Odom will spend the early part of this season as a starter. This means new comers Steve Blake and Matt Barnes are going to have to come off the bench and provide some kind of spark. Yes, Shannon Brown and Sasha Vujacic will be available, but during these first few games, it will be interesting to see how much of the offense the new guys have picked up. Early reports were saying that Steve Blake has picked up the triangle well, just how well he and Barnes have picked up the offense is what I’ll be paying attention to.
3. The Rookies
All offseason both of the Lakers rookies, Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter, have been talked about ad nauseum and will have an opportunity to play with the team this offseason. Caracter has impressed the most, but Ebanks has seen comparisons to ex-Laker Trevor Ariza. When these two are on the floor, I’ll be paying attention to how well Caracter rebounds and how Ebanks plays on the defensive end of the floor. I think we’ll see some good things from these kids, but I don’t expect them to see heavy minutes in the preseason or into the regular season.