Archives For Laker Analysis

As long as we have been waiting, it is hard to believe training camp is already here. So much has happened since Kobe dropped those 60 points in his epic career finale and so much of what has occurred has seemingly taken forever to transpire. Yet, media day is here and training camp right along with it.

The hiring of Luke Walton and the roster turnover has been covered in detail multiple times over. As has the change in rhetoric surrounding this new Lakers’ team, where expectations are about seeking improvement in play, development of young players, and trying to find an exciting brand of ball as opposed to harping on the playoffs or making a run that is unlikely with a roster not constructed to achieve that goal.

This is backdrop for camp, but it is not the entire story. The Lakers have 20 players heading to Santa Barbara and the ensuing competition — for roles as much as roster spots — will be worth our time and analysis every step of the way.

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You know the drill. We did this last year and the series lives on with updates for the 2016-17 Lakers’ roster. Next up in our series is not just Julius Randle’s decision making, but making the right call as quickly as possible. Enjoy.

We’ve all been there. You just sent a text to someone you desperately want to hear back from after several edits and versions. Being the sadists they are, Apple decided they’d let you see when said message is read.received and when that person is replying so you sit there and try to act as if your very life doesn’t rely upon that incoming message with three little dots.

You know what I’m talking about. This right here:

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Maddening. Absolutely maddening. Thanks, Apple.

So, what’s the point of bringing up some of life’s most stressful moments? Well, watching Julius Randle at the free throw line after receiving a pocket pass from D’Angelo Russell was similarly maddening last season. Randle had the ball in space, with momentum and the defense back on its heels, but with one problem: those infuriating dots above his head. By the time he was ready to make a decision, those advantages would disappear and with them typically went the opportunity to make a scoring play.

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The last couple of seasons the Lakers have intrigued for many of the wrong reasons. Be it a head coach who had local and national observers alike making the chin-stroke emoji face, the constant checking of tank-a-thon dot com, the declining-yet-still-defiant Kobe Bryant, or whatever other random story popped up. People wanted to talk about the Lakers, but for mostly bad reasons.

This season feels different though, doesn’t it? A new coach, another lottery pick, former lottery picks looking primed for a leap, and a team without Kobe for the first time in two decades has everyone at least a bit interested in what comes next — even if that doesn’t translate to a huge jump in wins.

I got a chance to talk with Keith Parish of Fastbreak Breakfast (@fastbreakbreak) of the Hardwood Paroxysm Basketball Network on all this as well as what I eat for breakfast (which is important! eat more breakfast!). Give it a listen after the jump.

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We recently told you the Lakers had upped their training camp roster to 18 via the signing of 3 players. Well, their camp roster is now up to 20 after the additions of Metta World Peace and Thomas Robinson according to Shams Charania of  The Vertical.

Before we get to the merits of each player, I think the best way to look at both signings as a continuation of the major theme of the Summer. After Luke Walton was hired, almost every soundbite coming from him or his staff has been related back to two central themes — competition and culture.

Walton has openly discussed wanting to establish a culture where players wanted to come into the gym and work hard. He wants players to have fun, but he wants that fun to come out of competing every day and cultivating an environment where players can improve.

The Metta and Robinson signings are an extension of these ideas.

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You know the drill. We did this last year and the series lives on with updates for the 2016-17 Lakers’ roster. Next up in our series is Brandon Ingram’s playmaking ability. Enjoy.

When the Lakers ended up not only keeping their top-3 protected lottery pick, but staying put at #2, the collective celebration of Lakers’ fans was only a slight notch below some sort of massive playoff victory. The team had suffered through so many losses and the prospect of snagging a player the caliber of Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram made it all seem (at least somewhat) worth it.

Ingram, of course, became the pick and fans have been giddy with excitement and hope ever since. A SF prospect with a rare combination of size, length, and shooting ability, Ingram not only brings an intriguing skill set but fills a major long term need on the roster.

And while Ingram’s shooting ability and defensive potential offer the most long term upside for a roster sorely in need of both, this upcoming season the rookie might just help the team most with another facet of his game — his playmaking ability.

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With Lakers media day in exactly 10 days, training camp is right around the corner. The Lakers have had an eventful summer, swapping coaches, drafting a couple of players they have high hopes for, and adding new veterans to help on the court and in the locker room to help fill the leadership void created by Kobe Bryant’s retirement.

But training camp is not just the first step for the players who have secured a spot on the roster, it is also for fringe players to try and make their mark — not only on the Lakers, but to showcase their skill and work ethic in a way which might earn them a more permanent spot in the league should they not make LA’s roster. With that, the team has recently announced the signing of three players who are looking to take advantage of their time in the Lakers’ camp.

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The buzz is already here. After a strong summer league, an invite to Team USA’s training camp as part of the Select Team, and social media clips of the work he’s been putting in, D’Angelo Russell is being properly recognized as a player on the rise. Buzz and actual NBA production, however, are not the same. Can Russell carry over a summer of proper work into real progress?

At The Ringer, Kevin O’Connor believes it will by proclaiming Russell is better than you think he is. O’Connor covers a lot of ground in his piece and the entire thing is worth your time, but this passage is the crux of his argument:

Russell played so well without Kobe that he could have been in the conversation for second-place Rookie of the Year votes if Bryant hadn’t played last season. His usage skyrocketed without Bryant, and while his scoring efficiency dipped slightly, his per-36 numbers improved drastically. He projects as the full-time starter alongside Jordan Clarkson under new Lakers head coach Luke Walton, so he could receive a similarly high usage rate. It’ll be a shock for Lakers fans to go from Scott’s Kobe-centric isolation offense to Walton’s free-flowing, motion-based system. But the stylistic change is tailor-made for Russell’s strengths as a versatile combo guard.

Yes. All of that. Redistributing Kobe’s touches across the roster while replacing Scott’s offense with one which caters more to Russell’s strengths and…voila, improvement. This is the basic formula, but beyond the schematic changes and adjustments in usage, I’m looking in an an even more simple direction: experience and confidence.

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In the months since he was named head coach of the Lakers, Luke Walton has done a good job of resetting expectations to appropriate levels. He’s spoken about his desires to build a winning culture, but has been careful to not equate that to actual wins. In fact, he’s done the opposite by stating — several times, actually — that this team should not be judged by wins and losses early on.

All of this has been very strategic on Walton and the front office’s parts. After years of selling the myth of the “ultimate goal being a championship” while constructing rosters not built to even make the playoffs, the Lakers have, seemingly, learned their lessons. They hired a young coach, targeted specific veterans at positions of need, and have put the young players front and center as key pieces who need development.

However, just because things seem new; just because Luke Walton is seen as the anti-Bryon Scott, it does not mean there is a complete departure from all ideas which existed under the previous regime. Take Walton’s recent quotes about the Lakers being “built around” the young players:

I don’t think we’re built around the young guys. Obviously they’re a huge part of what we’re doing and developing them, but we brought in some good vets that we feel are really going to help lead in Kobe’s absence. We’re going to be doing our best to develop these guys, but we’re going to be playing the guys who are helping us win and playing the right way and competing every night. We feel like we have some vets who have done that for a lot of years in this league. So we’re going to lean heavily on them as well.

Wait, there’s more. Here he is on whether Brandon Ingram will need to “earn his spot” in the rotation:

Absolutely. Everyone has to earn a spot. You come into camp and you compete against your other players, you respect your teammates, but whoever outplays the next guy in line, that’s who gets to start.

Now, let’s grab Doc Brown, hop in the Delorean, set the date for the summer of 2015, and ramp up the speed to 88 miles per hour. Now re-read the quotes above. Could you hear Byron Scott uttering the same words Walton did? I can.

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