I’m going to be honest. I’m not quite ready for the season to be here. I’m excited and NBA basketball back in our lives is wonderful, for sure. But, it’s here already? This team just got done winning a championship exactly two months ago today. It’s absolutely wild that they’re about to play again.
Yet, here we are.
First things first, neither LeBron nor AD will play. I’d also imagine minutes will be relatively short for any “aged” veteran guy and/or some of the specific players who exerted a lot on the way to the championship. So, Marc Gasol might not get a lot of run. Ditto for Wes Matthews. I could see KCP getting under 25 minutes, too. I also would not be surprised to see Markieff Morris get a shift or two, but not much more than that.
With that, I do expect a lot of the younger guys to see a bunch of time. Caruso, Kuz, Cook, THT, Cacok, and Kostas are about to be tired after this game, I’d bet. I wouldn’t doubt Schröder and Harrell see starter level minutes — or at least in the 25-28 minute range. Dudley, though not young, may also see some extended run considering his role on this team as being more of a mentor type and not expected to be a heavy minutes rotation player once the regular season rolls around.
So, what to expect from a game like this?
Well, for one, I think it’s going to be a bit sloppy. There’s a lot of new guys on this team and, thus, not a lot of continuity — especially in terms of familiarity of playing with each other. Sure, you might get a lineup or two that has all guys from last season for a short stretch, but if it’s a Kuz/Keef/KCP/Caruso/Cook group…does that even count in terms continuity? Probably not.
Second, this team is still learning exactly what Vogel wants on both sides of the ball. Remember, camp just started on Sunday. Wednesday was a scheduled off day. There’s going to be schematic breakdowns and a fair amount of isolations offensively and quasi-shell work defensively. I’m guessing not a lot is installed at this point and even if it’s more than I think, I’d bet the retention and ability to recall it at game speed is going to be difficult. Even for a smart veteran group like these Lakers.
So, in the end, I’m basically just going to sit back and enjoy a Lakers game without much expecation of the game actually being that great. Maybe I’ll be surprised, though. Harrell could be out for revenge vs. his former team. Maybe Caruso looks otherworldly. Maybe Schröder is a terror. None of this stuff is out of the question.
I’m just not expecting any of that, really. But, it will be good to see our guys back on the floor, in particular the new guys who are getting their first taste of being a Laker. It will also be fun to see them back at STAPLES after months in the Orlando Bubble on those more generic NBA courts.
So, enjoy the game you all. We’ll have a wrap up of things over the weekend.
Where you can watch: 7:00pm start time on Spectrum SportsNet.