The Lakers’ preseason rolls on tonight with a visit from the Portland Trailblazers.
If this were the regular season I’d spout off about how the Lakers are looking to bounce back from their loss to the Warriors. That, after giving up a huge run in the second half, they’d be looking to make a point about the quality of their team and how they won’t just roll over. But this is the preseason and while I’m sure the coaches and the players themselves want to play better, those other things simply aren’t true.
What is true is that the coaches are trying to get a feel for how their roster works together and are trying to sort out roles for players that are sure to make the team. The coaches also want to get good looks at the bottom of the roster guys that are long-shots, but have a chance to earn a roster spot heading into the regular season.
In those pursuits, expect low minutes from the starters but for them to play together a fair amount when they are on the floor. Also expect to see some shuffling of the reserve groups and for Mike Brown to use the majority, if not all, of the available players in order to get looks at these guys in different situations.
With Jordan Hill out, this may mean we get to see Antawn Jamison play more PF than he did Sunday (which was zero). It may also mean Earl Clark or even Reeves Nelson sees some minutes at that spot for extended minutes. On the wing, we should see more Jodie Meeks (and we may even see him earlier in the game than Sunday), Chris Douglas-Roberts should get some good minutes, and we could also possibly see Ebanks play both SG and SF in different lineup combinations.
Overall though, from a Laker perspective, the point remains that the coaches are still in search mode with the bottom half of the roster and the preseason is when sorting those things out happens. Fans may not like the losing and huge runs from the opposition are never fun but it bears repeating: these results mean nothing. Especially not for a team that has the talent that the Lakers do.
From the Blazers’ side, this is a team in full rebuild mode. They jettisoned several veteran players that were on last season’s roster and are now building around a veteran core of LaMarcus Aldridge, Nic Batum, and Wes Matthews with youngsters Dame Lillard, Myers Leonard, Nolan Smith, and Victor Claver providing promise.
Lillard, especially, is a player who should be watched closely tonight and this season. He’s a quick point guard whose attack game is tailor made for the NBA. This past summer he darted up draft boards after dazzling in workouts and, in that way (and not necessarily in style of play), reminds some folks of Russ Westbrook. We’ll see if Lillard can develop the way that Russ has but the promise he’s shown in leading up to the draft and then in the Vegas Summer League has people excited.
Another player to watch tonight is our old friend Ammo. Adam Morrison has a make good contract with the Blazers and a shot to make their team if he shows enough in training camp. After having a solid season in Europe and flashing some of the scoring skills that made him a lottery pick in Summer League, Morrison is giving the NBA another shot and hopefully this time he can stick. Since his time as a Laker, I’ve rooted for his success and seeing him back in the league would be a good thing.
Back to tonight, try to remember that training camp and the preseason games are just building blocks that get the team to its next phase of doing more building. These games are meant to help whittle down a roster to a team the team that will start the campaign but one that we all hope is no where close to where it wants to be at the end of the season. An NBA season is a long journey and right now, the team is barely gathering their supplies and preparing to pack their bags. We’ve a long way to go yet.