It is the summer of 2016 and, as a Lakers’ fan, it is finally okay to dream again.
For most of my life, or at least the part where I understood what I was watching on TV, being a Lakers fan meant dreaming of the team and its players reaching heights reserved for only the greats of the sport. How far would they go in the playoffs? Would they win the championship? Would player X win the MVP? How many players would go to the all-star game? Etc, etc.
For nearly 5 years, those types of dreams have ceased. They dissipated with a ruptured achilles, free agents walking without compensation, a bloated contract extension, the bringing on of stop-gap players, and the hiring of coaches who either couldn’t live up to the memories of those who came before them or reveled so much in the past that embracing the future seemed like an afterthought.
So, for nearly 5 years, fans’ dreams shifted from things the organization could shape and had some control over to things they really did not. Would a free agent choose the Lakers? Would opposing team X win or lose that night and impact the standings? Would the lottery balls bounce the Lakers way? Etc, etc.
Don’t get me wrong, the Lakers are not likely to be a “good” team next year. A standard improvement from a team which wins in the teens the previous season is an increase of 11 to 13 wins. If the Lakers follow that trend, they will win roughly 30 games next year. I know many hope (expect?) better, but tempering expectations in that regard is the better bet.
However, what these new Lakers offer — the Lakers sans Byron Scott and post Kobe retirement — is a hope and an opportunity of investment at the ground floor. With Luke Walton and a slew of young players who all look like they have some game, it is finally time again to look forward and explore the possibilities of what can be and using that to uplift rather than reveling in the past as a way of distracting from the current woes.
There will be down times. Players as young as the Lakers will feature make mistakes. They can have tunnel vision. They turn the ball over. They miss defensive rotations. They lack experience and the sharpened instincts which come with those additional game reps.
But there will also be flashes of brilliance. They will have moments where they look like the best players on the floor. Where no matter what the defense does they won’t be stopped. Where they get a key steal or rebound or blocked shot. Where they dial in defensively and move on a string. Where they make you forget just how much you wished you could forget the past 5 years.
The inspiration to believe in something beyond lottery odds is here again. The ability to invest in something which looks like it can be planted and grow into something beyond a one-year rental is back. This won’t stop the complaints or the critiques or the want for better. That never ends, silly. But after years of not having much to cheer for beyond the fading shine of an aging legend, the cycle is starting anew. It’s okay to dream again.
For nearly 3 years, I have not watched an entire Lakers game. It’s just brutal. Watching Kobe struggled and youngsters fumbled around was really painful. But this summer, I really feel like we have turned the corner. For the first time, it seems like Mitch and Jim really do have a plan. We as fans also have finally learned that Lakers as a organization is no longer the prime time destination for marquee players. In fact, the players of today are more interested in building their own name as brand, than serving the greatness of a team. For the time being, we can enjoy these young Lakers grow and try to make a name for themselves and possibly reclaim the mystique of the Lakers brand.
h david says
Hey Darius:it’s what
we Pisces do best and thank you for permission and reminder to let go of the
bitter taste left from season’s past.
I remember thinking (dreaming) that friend victor’s sister who
was one of the original laker girls would pass on a couple of season tickets on
to one or two or us.As laker life would
have it;julie’s parents went to every
laker home game there at the forum,sitting beneath the flag; next to
the laker band….ah,the memories and the
A couple of three years back, this kid playing on the
opposing basketball team of grandson Caleb looked good enough to someday be a
laker.Turns out, the kid happens to be
the youngest Ball brother out there in good old Chino Hills, Ca. Who knows?I also dreamt that I would win
the super lottery…..
Reality is, we can dream.The thing about dreams, someday they can become a reality.
So Laker nation;Dream
Mid Wilshire says
Darius, Nice write-up. I agree. Laker fans are in a position to dream again without being reviled by our uncles and cousins for looking at the universe through purple-and-gold tinted glasses.
I say this because the Lakers are no longer encumbered by the following:
1) The Kobe retirement circus;
2) Byron Scott’s marine-style coaching and antiquated offensive schemes;
3) The Roy Hibbert debacle;
4) The absence of a true team concept (no ball movement, too much one-on-one playing, a complete disregard to the finer points of defense, etc.); and
5) An apparent lack of faith in themselves that they could actually go out on the court and win on any given night.
Those days, hopefully, are very much behind us. Now the Lakers fans can actually — legitimately — look to the future without being accused of having some form of early-onset dementia.
But, make no mistake, the Lakers are still in a rebuilding mode — probably more so than ever before. So it’s vital that we, as fans, embrace their growing pains and realize that the Lakers may still be another 2 years away from becoming a .500 team.
And this brings us to the question of how well the Lakers will do this year. That question is probably more difficult to answer this year than any other of the prior 3 seasons. There are so many variables that the uncertainty is almost dazzling.
What kind of impact will Luke Walton have on the team? Will Luke succeed in instilling a more team-oriented offensive concept? Will he at least begin to get the young players to grow defensively? And speaking of the young players, how much will Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell have improved their games and their bodies over the summer? Will Jordan Clarkson have the break-out season that some are now predicting? What will the contributions of Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov be? How much playing time will the highly-touted Brandon Ingram get this year? Will Iviza Zubaz grow into the Laker center of the future? Will Larry Nance establish himself as a major force off the bench? Will Anthony Brown find his shot and become a genuine part of the rotation?
These questions are impossible to answer at this point. But if even half of these queries end up with an affirmative response, then I would say that some of our dreams might actually be realized — at least over time.
With that, I can hardly wait for the next season to begin.
Nik K says
6) Nick Young – once we get rid of him then I can really start looking towards the future. Until then – Nick Young is still on the roster.
Mid Wilshire says
Nik K Mid Wilshire
Fair enough. I think Nick will be gone soon.
Yep, I feel the same way. We’re now waiting to see what’s possible rather than waiting for something to end. Expectations are appropriately realistic, but hoping to be pleasantly surprised, which is better to me that than hoping to be average and praying it won’t be worse. I think home attendance and viewership could be better this year than last year.
Sorry to shake everyone awake from their dreams. From
ESPN’s ‘The Nine Biggest Losers of the NBA Offseason’:
Teams that hampered future flexibility
The Los Angeles Lakers
Having added veterans Luol Deng and http://www.espn.com/nba/player/_/id/4298/timofey-mozgov to
fill needs, along with new head coach Luke Walton to shepherd the development
of their young stars, the Lakers are almost certain to be better next season.
The question is whether they’ll improve enough to justify
cutting into their cap space for 2017 and beyond by paying Deng $72 million and
Mozgov $64 million over the next four years. That’s unlikely, even if Mozgov
can return to his pre-knee surgery form at age 30.
With so many centers available in free agency — and several
still on the trade market — there was little need for the Lakers to move so
quickly to lock up Mozgov.
If you consider that the time frame to compete, is 3 to 4 years with the duration to be devoted to the development of our core, then Deng and Mozgov are the perfect signings.
Not only do they have the prerequisites of experience and proper character,..they have given up all future hopes of championships in order to serve as mentors to our kids.
Taking all those elements into hand, with the fact that the warriors and cavs will be playing volleyball with the trophy for the next four years, the smartest thing we can do with the time, is prepare, making ready to take full advantage of the opportunity to take the lead after today’s hero’s wither and falter.
Clay Bertrand says
Uhhhhh, ESPN bites…………….
My most intellectual post ever. Go Lakers.
_ Robert _ says
“For nearly 5 years, those types
of dreams have ceased…………dreams shifted from things the organization could
shape and had some control over to things they really did not.”Well – it is more like – nearly 4
years.I have a pretty good bead on
this due to the fact that since Phil Jackson left the Lakers, I have been a
pessimistic gloomster, predicting dire things. However, I do have a major
smudge on my record.There was a 2-3
month period during the Summer/Fall of 2012 when I was overly optimistic (way
too optimistic – me – go figure).The
period started in the Summer of 2012 with our acquisitions of Nash and Howard
in the Summer of 2012 and came to a full crescendo when it looked like we were
going to get Phil Jackson back.At
that moment(which was less than 4 years
ago in 11/2012), weren’t we all dreaming? I certainly was.I can even remember rr cautioning me that I
was too optimistic and shouldn’t think we had the best team.He thought we only had like the third best
team:) Vegas had us as the favorite and we were
on the cover of Sports Illustrated.We
were the Lakers.For me the dream came
crashing down with a midnight phone call.Yes -there was also bad luck
with the Nash injury etc., but let’s not kid ourselves, the Lakers had “Full
Control” over the actions in the Summer of 2012.We decided to trade for Nash and DH and we
decided to get MDA in lieu of Phil. Later we also had control over the 2 first round
picks we traded for Ramon Sessions and Jordan Hill (yea we did that).Again – this was all less than 4 years
ago.Seems like longer I realize, but
it is not.Yes – we were dreaming of
titles less than 4 years ago.The
question is -will we be, less than 4
years from now?
I realize everyone is trying to
win the expectations game, by downplaying everything, however, for the record –
I am probably more optimistic on the win total than most.Not ready to state a win total, but at this
point I would take the over on the ESPN prediction for sure.
Looking at the current roster, I see 8 potential full-time rotation players under the age of 25: Clarkson (24), Black (24), Brown (23), Nance (23), Randle (21), Russell (20), Zubac (19), and Ingram (18). The best thing about those 8, if they all develop to their full potential and stay with the Lakers, is that is an actual 8-man rotation that can compete. There’s no way of knowing how these players will develop, or what the roster will look like in 4-5 years when Ingram will still only be 22-23, but I’m pretty excited about the potential.
5D2 Not one single full game in 3 years? I hate to be over critical, but that doesn’t sound like a real fan. I know I’ve struggled to watch some games, especially with Byron Scott’s questionable coaching, but my love of basketball and the Lakers keeps me interested. If anything, I’ve got to cherish Kobe’s final moments on a basketball court and watch the development of players like Clarkson, Randle, and Russell. When the team is back in contention, the time sacrificed watching the struggle will seem worth it.
Reasons to dream:
1. No more farewell tour.
2. Luke Walton available and willing to become HC.
3. The summer league team looking competent on both ends of the court.
4. The ESPN braintrust are not Lakers advisers.
5. Jordan Clarkson resigned at a discount so the Lakers brand still exists.
6. Two good veterans signed for 4 years so they will not be worried about their next contract for 3 years.
7. FB&G still being the place to go for Lakers commentary.
Nik K says
Mid Wilshire Nik K
My question is – is Anthony Brown going to develop into a rotation player?… Can’t get all the 2nd round picks right, I know that – we have done very well in that category … He just hasn’t shown the capability to be a true 3 & D guy in the NBA. It isn’t that u have to be great @ shooting 3s (Bruce Bowen) or great at defense (Jared Dudley) – just need to be alright at one and really really good at the other… brown has shown neither tho, glimmers he could be a defensive stopper – but not nearly tony Allen / artest/ Bowen – at least not yet.. And if that is his focus … He really needs to get nasty on the defensive end … He seems that he will not be a great shooter.- I believe he is going on 23 , that is without fact checking myself… Thoughts?
Also did anyone watch Huertas play today… Watching now,numbers looked good… 1st impression is effort on defense… Does it translate and matter to NBA …not really and not sure … Still nice to see a Laker play some ball at these Olympics.
Lakers youngsters who can potentially be great
Ingram, zubac, russell, nance, randle, and clarkson…that’s six players, now ask yourself what are the odds that all of them develop into great players.
3 years from now projection per game
Center, zubac 12 pts 11 rebs 3 blks
P. Forward, randle 14 pts 14 rebs
S. Forward, ingram 20 pts 5 reb 5 ast 2 blk
S. Guard, clarkson, 15 pts
P. Guard, russell 24 pts 8 ast 4 rebs 2 stl
Bench, nance 9 pts 6 rebs 2 stl 2 blk
For the past few years the lakers GMs went all in like a newbie playing a game of monopoly. spending all their money on blue hotels (kobe dwight and steve) and losing bids on railroads and utilities (FA’s). Without assets in this league with the new collective bargaining agreement (the house rules) the Lakers can no longer monopolize the board game. Time to buy brown and yellow houses( a safer approach to the rebuild) to build our hotels on (our new young core).
Renato Afonso says
We should be happy with the possibility of watching good basketball again. Victories don’t really matter as much as the quality of play. A good level of play will do wonders for us fans.
h david says
of dreaming;Anthony Brown should
concentrate on taking the ball to the hoop; especially if he is being slotted
to play the two guard and as small forward when facing similar sized opponents.I think his offensive game would open up and his
free throw opportunities should also go up.This should be his number one priority right now and from what I see, he’s
got an nba type body.Who knows, eventually
his outside shooting could improve and that would prove invaluable to the
lakers coming off the bench.What I especially
like about him is that he’s a high energy guy both on offense and especially on
Note to Anthony Brown:I’ve not given up on you.Do it !
Nik K says
My Predictions after the Player movement – Some teams are
going to be hurting from last season who made the playoffs.
1. Golden State Warriors 65 – 17 (-8 wins) Simply put, I
think the warriors will be more focused on June than March next season, with players
resting on a more regular basis on back to back games. That being said, they will have slightly less depth on the bench (losing ezili, barbosa and starter barnes) although more talent in the starting 5. The quote – unquote best team
of all time may not have a better regular season record than last years
warriors team, but are certainly the consensus favorites to win the NBA
championship. Also, if the Lakers get the 8 seed, would be great experience for
them to face this team as growth opportunity.
2. San Antonio Spurs 58-24 (-9 wins) As much as I want to
see the Spurs fall off and I really really do want them to fall off – they are the ultimate teflon
team. I’ve been waiting for them to have the pains of being in a lower tier
market & to have some down season. Without Duncan – adding Gasol – they will
be the 2 seed again, not sure they can beat the Warriors. Bold Prediction for 2016-2017 NBA season –
Kawhi is NBA Regular Season MVP next season.
3. Portland Trail Blazers 52-30 (+8 Wins) – Improved at the
center position – Kept the core intact, has a bunch of trade potential.
Portlandia will build on a breakout season, Lillard is a star, CJ may be an allstar next season. As a unabashed Lakers fan – slightly jelly
at this point of the makeup of this squad.
4. LA Clippers – 48 – 34 (-4 Wins) – basically it has been
now or never for these guys for the last 3 seasons. They haven’t been able to
keep an identity – whether it be a fast paced team who outscores opponents or a
vet team that grinds you down – when it is said and done – CP3, Blake, and
Jordan should have been more successful with Doc Rivers as coach/gm. Sadly, CP3
will look back on his career and wonder what it would have been like had he
been on the varsity team at Staples.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves 46 -36 (+17 Wins) – After they
beat Golden State @ oracle at the end of last season, does anyone doubt the
T-wolves will be in contention going forward – KAT looks like he is a franchise changing player. All they did in the off season
was add the best defensive coach, albeit someone that lacks personality.
Substance matters – garnet / prince will continue to get these guys moving
6. Memphis Grizzlies 45 – 37 (+3 wins) – Resigned Conley –
added Parsons. Can Gasol stay healthy? Big man that start getting injuries
don’t heal and recover well – especially on the downside of their career. This
is mostly like the team the falls out due to injury and that i am wrong about.
Until then – too much talent and their core has been together long enough, and
play well enough on the defensive end that it is hard to imagine they are worse
than last season considering the injuries they dealt with.
7. Oklahoma City 44-38 (-11 wins) – Does losing Durant
devastate the team and OKC area? Yea of course. Russ, Olo, Kanter, and Adams
will still win plenty of games. Russ will be a monster.
8. New Orleans Pelicans 40 -42 (+10 wins) – As much as I
want to see the Lakers in this spot – the Peli get back to where they were two
years ago. 1st round sweep from the Warriors.
9. Utah Jazz 39 – 43 (-1 win) – Misses the playoff again by
1 game. Home court advantage in the toughest places to play in the league SLC –
Quinn Synder simply has too many redundancies on roster to make any large
improvement. Management/ ownership is willing to part ways with Favors or Exum
to get a more establish player – nor does the community want a headache like
10. Los Angeles Lakers 33 – 49 (+16 wins) – We lose 49 games finish 10th in western conf. and are
extremely happy about it. We will compete with all the best teams in the
league, and win a couple of those games against the Cavs, Warriors, Spurs,
Clippers, Celtics, Toronto, Atlanta – but still lose games on the road to the leagues
worst. I expect to see marketable improvement from Dlo and Randle – but they
still aren’t ready for consistency through an 82 game season. Ingram will show
flashes of greatness, but as a rookie will be out of gas well before the
allstar break somewhere near Christmas. Zubac will be a bright spot, because he
is clever scoring around the rim and can be a presences in the paint – but his lateral quickness will need to be
much improved to play with the big boys. Luke, Shaw, & the rest of the staff + young roster are good enough to be the second most improved team in the league
behind the t-wolves – still not a playoff team. And maybe we can catch some luck in the
lottery as well. Another #2 pick anyone?
11. Denver Nuggets 30 – 52 (- 3 wins) – The nuggets don’t
get worse, they just start playing more of the young guys. They will get rid of
gallo and manimal – the Celtics should be the most viable trade partner. At
this point – we have a much better young core than these guys… who have a mix
of – have nots with young guys who may be.
12. Dallas Mavericks 28 – 54 (-14 wins) – the Dirk Farewell
tour begins – the barnes signing was desperate – they lost parsons who never
really produced for them. Cuban is about to feel the pain of losing their
cornerstone franchise player, and i don’t feel bad at all.
13 . Sacramento Kings – 22-60 (-11 wins) – As much maligned
as Rondo was after his stint with the Mavs – he really made the Kings dangerous
last season. This season Boogie starts slow & finishes injured, if he isn’t traded by then – and Rudy Gay
will be traded by the deadline. The queens have major identity issues and for
them – with Boogie, it is time to s*** or get off the pot.
14. Houston Rockets – 20- 62 (-21 wins) – The Rockets will
be the most disappointing team in the NBA next season. Harden will start to
look around and realize that he literally has no help and no D’ Antoni doesn’t
have any fire power to revive his Suns team from the mid-2000s – nor a point guard.
Howard damages his 3rd consecutive team but goes to Atlanta where
the team has success – no thanks to Dwight.
15. Phoenix Suns 18 – 64 (- 4 wins) – Just young and raw,
no leadership and Bledsoe probably toils away know he could be as good as
Lowery, but doesn’t have a demare carrol, derozen, or the cast of others like in Toronto to
help him out.
The dream, near the end of the year to be discussing the remarkable improvement of the Lakers as a team and individual players. Gone, the tank conspiracy theorists. Line-up I’m most looking forward to seeing:
Nance, Ingram, Zubac, Russell, Brown
Good line up, though I would replace Brown, with Clarkson.
I’m not sold on Brown yet, and would not mind at this point a trade to replace him.
A Horse With No Name says
Nik K Nice prediction post. A bit on the sunny side up; but hey, we can do that here.
A Horse With No Name says
mattal Please remember that espn has found panning the lakers every move to pay off in clicks. It’s one of many signs that the network is on the decline and must resort to bait to keep up their viewership.
A Horse With No Name says
Hey OT: Best thing so far in the Olympics IMO: men’s indoor volleyball. The competition in pool ‘A’ is absurd. U.S. squad is young and not ready to medal, but their future is bright. So far Canada is the surprise team; upsetting the U.S. and playing Brazil tough. U.S. must win out to overcome their two losses to Canada and Italy and get out of their pool. They’ll have to beat Brazil (very tough but doable) to advance. Matt Anderson, the U.S. outside, is an incredible hitter. At 6’10” with hops and speed, he bounces into the stands. Check it out.
A Horse With No Name says
Matt Anderson highlights. Bang’in.
h david says
whenever I hear the words; only the good die young, surely espn’s john saunders fits the expression.
rest in peace.
33 wins It’s possible
If the warriors start out slow the media is gonna jump all over it
LT Mitchell says
The dreams turned into nightmares around the time Jimbo officially took over. I want to dream again, I really do, but Jimbo is the Lakers version of Freddy Krueger.
At this point I would call this a concept line-up with guys probably not yet ready to start. I like these guys for a mix of defense and offense as an effective 2-way line-up. I think Brown has been pretty good defensively as Darius last year pointed out. He hasn’t been dropping 3’s as well as one would like. But, we know he was a capable shooter in college so I think he can do it. I would love to see him get enough burn at SG to get enough opportunities to shoot. I also just like the size and length with Brown at SG and Ingram at SF.
I would also like to see Clarkson’s defense improve. However, if he were to come off the bench it might not be as big an issue for now.
Your reasoning is valid, and afterwards,.. I cannot disagree.
Nik K says
Team Committed Salary Avg Age.
Clip $113,327,068 29.3
Mavs $111,238,144 27.2
Blazers $111,170,609 24.9
Griz $110,785,156 25.8
Spurs $106,253,037 28.5
Pelican $97,799,631 26.1
Warriors $97,277,882 27.0
Rockets $92,300,617 27.6
Thunder $86,862,752 26.0
Jazz $83,674,154 25.5
Suns $80,123,206 25.2
Lakers $79,869,537 26.4
Twolves $79,281,141 26.7
Nuggets $76,573,717 24.6
Did some analysis on roster to go with my predictions. 1. The clippers are old and over committed.2. We have the 3rd least committed salary in the Western Conf. 3. The Mavs are by far and away the most over paid team – Wes Mathews and Harrison Barnes both will be making $20mm/yr as well as Dirk $20million.
Lakers Future says
Indeed ESPN likes to take shots at the Lakers. By the same token they’ve been pretty spot on when predicting performance of the team over the last few years. I actually agree with their assessment of of the Deng and Mosgov deals. They still irk me.
matt24 I think the odds that all of them develop into great players is <5%. I think half would be the most likely outcome.
This new generation is going finally be unleashed. Coach Scott suppressed the team’s potential last year. I watched every game, and it was tough. It was not fair and mind bending at the same time. I’m stoked about this season. We’re going to watch Randle overwhelm openents, Clarkson blur through defenses, and Ingram fight for the starting spot. DLO is going to make his hit list do his laundry. Wooooo