It’s the middle of August and that means the biggest story of the day is…the NBA releasing the schedule. Yes, all teams will play 82 games and no, there’s not much analysis to be made about what any of this means regarding the team’s chances next season. But, there is some stuff to discuss.
1. What game are you most looking forward to?
Darius: Call me a sucker for nostalgia, but give me one last game of Kobe vs. LeBron for old time’s sake. Yes, the Cavs are the far superior team and who’s to say how much either star will play should the game get out of hand, but in what could be Kobe’s last season, I’d cherish one last duel between two all time greats in the middle of the Staples Center on the night of March 10th.
Rey Rey: The season opener. I don’t expect much from this Laker team again this season in terms of win-loss record and I know the losses take a toll on my ability to watch this team. But I will be jazzed for the start of the season and the showcase of the first two picks (Karl Anthony-Towns of Minnesota and D’Angelo Russell of the Lakers) on the big stage is something I’m looking forward to.
Anthony: Honestly, I’m most looking forward to a game about a month into the season. The hype will have hopefully died down. The hot takes might have subsided (unlikely, I know). The rookies will have gained some traction for the rhythm of the NBA game. If this is the case, December 1, the Lakers will face off against the Philadelphia 76ers.
On top of everything I already mentioned, we’ll get to see the two likeliest Lakers draft picks on the same court at the same time. Jahlil Okafor looked like the perfect pick for the Lakers, but, instead and as we all know, Mitch Kupchak went with the times and drafted the point guard. Both guys will want to prove they were worth the second overall pick, so even on its own, without my own personal reason for intrigue in this game, it should be a great matchup.
2. What game are you least looking forward to?
Darius: I’m going to go with my stock answer and say the Christmas Day game. While the NBA provided an interesting wrinkle having the Lakers play the Clippers to make it a virtual home game for each side, I’d appreciate one Christmas where I wasn’t at all worrying about how the Lakers were going to play that day. I do recognize that the Lakers playing on Christmas has become a tradition of sorts, but let’s just say I wouldn’t mind the day off.
Rey Rey: I can probably do without the Christmas game against the Clippers. Not because I don’t think it has a chance to be a good game but I’ll probably be worn out by that time; the Christmas day schedule is quite the marathon. I can do something more productive like spending time with family and opening gifts or playing NBA2K16 with a souped-up Laker squad. Of course, the game could be on in the background…
Anthony: For all the reasons I alluded to wanting to wait a month in before finding significance in a single game, I’m not exactly looking forward to opening night in the same way many undoubtedly are.
Yes, it’ll be absolutely amazing to see Kobe Bryant on the same court as the young guys. Of course I can’t wait for games to resume. I’m just extremely wary of how hot the takes will be if the game doesn’t go exactly to plan. I’m a huge proponent of “underpromise and overachieve.” The narrative surrounding the Lakers is always the opposite.
3. Anything specific about the schedule that stood out to you?
Darius: I guess I should not be surprised that the Lakers still got 19 nationally televised games, but when the Knicks only have seven, it shows how much brand recognition the Lakers and Kobe still have over other big market teams who aren’t “contenders”. Sure, the days are gone where the Lakers are leading the NBA in games on the big networks, but to be tied for 5th for most games national TV games and only trail a potential powerhouse with like the Thunder by five appearances speaks to how much the league and their broadcast partners still think of the Lakers.
Rey Rey: The early Lakers schedule usually has a ton of home games but this time around, the team will have only 11 home games in the 2015 calendar year compared to a whopping 22 on the road. That includes an 8-game road trip in December. This could basically make or break the Lakers’ season. Not that it’s tough to break this campaign to begin with.
Anthony: The league appears to have done everything it could to manage the amount of rest players get during the season. Stretches of four games in five nights and the number of back-to-backs have been limited noticeably, which bodes extremely well for the watchability of the average NBA game and, more importantly, the wear and tear on the players, themselves.
Here’s hoping the measures taken lead to fewer injuries and a much more enjoyable season. We’ve all heard it said that the NBA is a star-driven league. Stars cannot drive the league from the sidelines.