The Lakers’ preseason tour continues tonight, this time in Las Vegas against the Kings. The Lakers are still looking for their first win of the preseason while the Kings are….uh…(google search)….2-1 but coming off a loss to that preseason juggernaut Warriors team.
For the Lakers, they’ll still be without two-thirds of their big man rotation as Dwight Howard still isn’t ready to play (but will be Sunday, maybe) and Jordan Hill isn’t yet cleared for contact while recovering from his own back issues. The good news is that Pau Gasol will play this evening so at least four of the Lakers’ starters will be in the line up tonight.
On the reserves front, everyone is available but sorting out who will actually play is another story. Last game Douglas-Roberts and Johnson-Odom saw to no time in favor of playing Goudelock, Morris, and co. Meanwhile big men Ronnie Aguilar and Reeves Nelson also saw heavy minutes. Of course some of this is related to injuries (and the fact that Pau sat out to rest) and doesn’t really mean that much beyond not giving fans the consistency in lineups that they’d like to see.
Ultimately, though, this will change soon. Within the next week, we’re sure to start to see cuts and the rotations will normalize. But that’s for a later discussion.
Tonight, the Lakers face an intriguing young Kings team that is looking to finally put together years of lottery picks and become a player in a crowded Western Conference. This past June they selected Kansas forward Thomas Robinson, a do it all forward that can play down low while also showing talent to play high on the floor.
He’ll be paired in the front court with DeMarcus Cousins, who seems ready to take the leap into one of the best young bigs in the league with head coach Keith Smart guiding him. Cousins shows a complete game — including being one of the best offensive rebounders in the league — and must only start to better finish at the rim before he’s just a total beast.
In the backcourt, the Kings remain a work in progress but do have some bright spots. Second year man Isaiah Thomas had a nice rookie year running the point and hopes to build on that bright spot of a campaign. Marcus Thornton offers real scoring punch on the wing and can get buckets from nearly any spot on the floor once he gets going. And Jimmer Fredette is also starting to find his comfort zone more, not looking as overwhelmed this preseason as he did last season.
The real question mark in this group is Tyreke Evans. The former rookie of the year is entering a make or break season for the Kings. His game, for all intents and purposes, has progressed only marginally from his superb rookie campaign and the Kings need more from him if they’re to take the next step as an organization. A lot is riding on him improving, not only his future (he is seeking a contract extension) but his team’s too.
Tonight, though, it’s the preseason and these are storylines to monitor as the year progresses. So, sit back and enjoy the game. Hopefully, on Sunday when these two teams face off again, we’ll have something “super” to look forward to.