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I still remember watching the press conference and not really believing what I was seeing. There was Jerry West standing next to a 24 year old and in his prime Shaquille O’Neal, posing for pictures after announcing he had signed with the Lakers. The entire thing seemed surreal.

Before Kobe was Kobe, Shaq was the savior. The Lakers had recovered from the Magic Johnson HIV announcement 4 years prior to build a winning team. They saw their win totals rise from 33 to 43 to 53 the three previous seasons to his arrival and then West, in all his mastery, carved out cap space and opened up the starting C spot (by trading Vlade to the Hornets for the rights to Kobe) to make his run at Shaq. After finally getting the game’s best young big man to sign on the dotted line, West almost looked more relieved than happy. He knew the Lakers were really back.

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D’Angelo Russell returned to the starting lineup in Sunday’s matchup vs. the Cavs and he brought an offensive explosion with him. Russell shot the lights out, scoring a career high 40 points while dueling with Kyrie Irving the entire night. It was quite the sight to watch Russell score almost at will and from all three levels of the floor:

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Sometimes it’s just fun to revel in the potential of one of the young players. Russell’s ice in my veins shooting, Randle beasting and showing an ability to put together counters to pet plays, and, well, Brandon Ingram fully extending with a go-go-gadget dunk over Malcom Brogdon after driving by Giannis Antetokounmpo:

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Larry Nance Jr. lives to put people on posters. Against the Warriors, David West became Nance’s latest victim, finding himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and suffering the consequences for it.

(h/t to @cjzero for the clip)

There’s really nothing else to say except damn, you lived a good life David West. We’re all sorry it had to end at the hands of Larry Nance Jr.

If you look only at the cumulative stats, Brandon Ingram is not having a very good preseason. He’s shooting 41% from the field, scoring 8.1 points a night, grabbing a little over 2 rebounds, and dishing almost 2 assists a game. For most of the team’s 7 exhibition contests, he could be seen floating around the perimeter, looking more like a ball moving role player than the 2nd overall pick in his draft.

Over the past couple of games, however, Ingram is starting to find his way. On Saturday, in the 2nd half against the Warriors, coach Luke Walton put the ball in Ingram’s hands to be more of a facilitator. This unlocked his ball handling and shot creation ability (for him and his teammates). But more than that, it engaged him in the process of making the offense work.

In Wednesday night’s loss to the Warriors, Ingram again was more engaged and looking for his offense even when he was mostly playing off the ball. As the game progressed, though, Ingram was again put back in position to facilitate and again he thrived. His fourth quarter was one of efficiency and offensive aggression — he poured in 14 of his 21 points and half of his 4 assists while playing the entire period.

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I think it’s more than fair to say D’Angelo Russell has had an up and down preseason. Against the Blazers on Tuesday, Russell only mad 6 of his 21 shot attempts, missing all 9 of his three pointers in the process. In the Lakers’ exhibition opener against the Kings, he only scored 4 points while connecting on only 2 of his 8 field goals.

Those bad nights, however, have been balanced against some very good ones. In two games against the Nuggets he combined for 54 points on 60.6% shooting from the field while hitting 8-15 three pointers. If you want to nitpick, he only had 8 total assists over those two games while also racking up 6 turnovers. This led to some discussion about balancing Russell’s scoring and playmaking for others, with some arguing they would appreciate more of the latter even though they greatly appreciate his skill with the former.

On Thursday against the Kings, though, there was no longing for more of anything. Russell was fantastic as a scorer and as a passer, tallying 31 points (on only 14 shots) and dishing out 11 assists to go against only 2 turnovers. In the 3rd quarter alone he had 13 points and 4 assists while not turning the ball over once. He was dominant and helped turn an 18 point deficit into only 2 points heading into the 4th quarter.

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In my preview for Sunday’s Lakers vs. Nuggets preseason game, I wrote the following about what I was watching for with D’Angelo Russell:

Can Russell come close to duplicating Friday’s effectiveness? When Russell is on offensively, he is a terror. His feel for scoring is fantastic and his ability to get buckets at all three levels of the floor stands out compared to some of his PG peers. On Friday he had his entire game working and I would love for the same thing to be the case today.

Russell didn’t just come close to duplicating his previous game’s effort, he surpassed it.

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Even though we told you not to forget about Julius Randle, not having him do much of anything basketball related since April can make that hard. We got glimpses of Russell, Nance, and Ingram at Summer League. We even got a taste of Jordan Clarkson at the Drew League. But nothing from Randle.

With the opening of training camp, that’s going to change. Soon we will get snippets of Randle practicing and getting clips of him scrimmaging. We’ll also get clips of him practicing his shooting. You know, like this one:

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