We are roughly a month and a half from training camps opening and a 10+ weeks until the dawn of the regular season. A lot can change between now and then. Free agency (or what’s left of it at this point), trades, and injuries all can shape the trajectory of a team between now and mid-October.

We all understand this. Still, though, it’s always interesting to me to know what forecasting models and group-think projections say about how good or bad teams will be next season. I have participated in large sample group projections in the past for ESPN. I was part of the early iterations of the NBA Rank project (I stopped after the first two years) and I have offered win projections as part of their summer forecast series that has outperformed Vegas bookmakers.

This isn’t to pat anyone on the back. My point is to say that there is value in what these projections say, even if they’re not always right. And, to be clear, they’re not always right.

So, in saying all that, ESPN’s Kevin Pelton has released a stats only win projection for every team in the league for the 2017-18 season. It’s under ESPN’s Insider umbrella, so it is paid content. You can read the entire thing here, if you have a subscription. I do. So I read it. This article is actually free. So, better for you!

Before we get into the Lakers, piece, though, here’s Pelton explaining the model:

As in past seasons, I’ve put together projected playing time based on a formula that estimates games missed by taking into account the number missed over the past three seasons (adjusted for any offseason injuries/suspensions) and my own guesses at how rotations will shake out.

Most veteran players are rated using the multiyear, predictive version of RPM, adjusted for the typical aging curve. Newcomers to the league and players who played too little for an RPM rating are rated using their projected offensive and defensive ratings from my SCHOENE projection system, which incorporates translated performance in the NCAA and professional leagues besides the NBA.

For those who are not aware, RPM prefers to ESPN’s metric of Real Plus Minus — a sort of “all in one” stat which balances player production against the players he shares the court with (both teammates and opponents). It is supposed to wade through some of the noise which comes from various lineup configurations, strength/weakness of teammates and/or opponents, etc.

The top of the RPM metric often mirrors what most observers would say are the best players in the league. It also rates other players higher or lower than counting stats or the eye test might presume they should. You’ll find varying opinions on how good a metric RPM is. I have no hard opinion on RPM, but thought I should at least give a snapshot.

Now, to the Lakers.

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Welcome to the worst part of the circle of life for an NBA season. August. The dead zone. These truly are the dog days of summer.

Free agency, for all intents and purposes, is over. While there are some high profile restricted free agents still out there (*waves at Nerlens Noel*), most teams have filled their rosters. Teams are starting to use some of their 2-way contracts to snag players who have big team potential but G-League ability, but even these contracts are rare as teams still need to dole out their training camp invites.

Which leads me back to the Lakers. Here is their current depth chart (simplified for guards, forwards, and centers — note, Alex Caruso and his two-way contract is not included here):

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So, we’re in the dog days of summer and, as is the yearly ritual, it’s time to take a bit of a break from the game before things ramp up again in September with training camp and then preseason. Usually, the lack of news makes stepping away a bit easier.

Things are less easy, though, when friend of the site LD2K drops fire videos to get you excited about next season. I mean, how am I supposed to relax when this comes on?

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While there were reports that the Lakers were likely done signing free agents, the team has reportedly picked up a familiar name:

First, I’m happy for Blue. He’s been with the Lakers in some way — either with the big team or their G-League affiliate — since 2015. Last year, he was the league MVP. He’s played for their summer league team multiple times and after his exploits in Vegas this past month in helping the team to the LVSL championship, he openly spoke about wanting to catch on with the Lakers and get his shot in the NBA. It seems he’ll get his shot to try to stick this fall.

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The Lakers have reportedly signed 2nd round pick Thomas Bryant to a 2-year contract. The deal is a 2-year contract, but has a team option on the 2nd year:

First off, it’s nice to hear that Bryant is finally signed. Second, however, I’m a bit disappointed that this isn’t a contract longer than 2-years, even if Charania is reporting that the Lakers are looking to maintain flexibility for next summer. As I recently wrote, the timing of Tyler Ennis agreeing to his contract created a situation which would impact Bryant’s contract length:

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Just two days ago we wondered what moves the Lakers might still make with an unbalanced roster and needs in both the backcourt and the wing. Well, the first domino has fallen as the Lakers will reportedly bring back a somewhat familiar face to serve as their backup to Lonzo Ball.

First, getting Ennis for the minimum is a nice pickup. After flirting with Derrick Rose for what was likely their full room level exception (roughly $4 million), the team found a viable backup for much cheaper than that.

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In the latest Laker Film Room Podcast, Pete and I talk with Tania Ganguli of the LA Times.

Tania talked to us about the LeBron James to the Lakers rumblings around the league and whether she thinks this is just smoke or if it’s a real possibility. Then she gave us insight into the Lakers belief in Brandon Ingram as a foundational player, gave us more background and context to the D’Angelo Russell trade, and then talked at length about her fantastic feature on Jeanie Buss and the Buss Family dynamic.

Later in the pod Tania also talked to us about her history as a sports journalist, some of the differences between working an NFL vs. an NBA beat, and other notes of the trade (which I found particularly interesting and great). I want to thank Tania for being so generous with her time and for coming on the show. It was a good conversation that we hope you’ll enjoy.

Click through to listen to the episode.

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The Drew League in Los Angeles is one of the best pro-am summer leagues anywhere. Current and former pros — mostly LA natives, but also other players from around the league — show up often and play with/against some really talented players who aren’t NBA players, but can really ball. Every year, then, getting out to the Drew to watch some quality hoops is a staple of LA based basketball fans.

One name who’s shown up the last couple of years is the Lakers own Julius Randle. The Lakers starting PF was there this past weekend and put on quite a show in helping his team (with fellow NBA’ers DeMar DeRozan and Nick Young) pull out the win.

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