Lakers Season Preview

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Koen Samuel, Assistant Editor

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After an exciting off-season and a promising pre-season, the Los Angeles Lakers are hopeful that this season will be memorable for all the right reasons.

The franchise has not made the playoffs since 2013, when a fatigued Kobe Bryant almost single handedly willed them into the postseason.

After multiple losing seasons resulting in lottery picks and constant failures to attract free agents, the Lakers seemed destined to fade from relevance in the NBA.

Last year was supposed to be the year that LA saw a return to relevancy, and ultimately, the NBA playoffs. LeBron James’ first season in the city of angels didn’t end well, with the team being plagued by injuries, inconsistency, and a failure to reduce the deficit created by the team during a bad stretch after Christmas Day.  

The off-season didn’t look too promising at first, when President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson stepped down and Kawhi Leonard chose the rival Clippers as his free agent destination. 

However, the teams’ fortunes looked to have changed on June 15, when GM Rob Pelinka managed to trade for Anthony Davis. Alongside Davis, the team managed to scramble and surround their new tandem with the proper pieces to make them successful. 

The Lakers have primed themselves for a successful year, and there’s plenty of reasons why. 

After James suffered a long term groin injury and he returned only to lose thirteen of the twenty games he played, the Lakers made an important long term decision to shut him down for the rest of the season. For eight straight seasons, James played into June in the finals, adding an incredible amount of mileage on his body. The extended summer vacation should serve him well on this court this season, and although he will still need load management, I believe he will be refreshed and will average around his normal 27 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists. 

Besides acquiring Anthony Davis, GM Pelinka did more than a commendable job in constructing this roster. Rather than surround James (and this year, Davis) with playmakers, the team played to their strengths and surrounded them with shooters. The additions of Danny Green, Jared Dudley, and Avery Bradley will help improve the Lakers’ 3 point shooting. Keep in mind, Caldwell-Pope is returning as well and landing Dwight Howard while retaining JaVale McGee could potentially result in an uptick in James’ assists as well.

The move to hire Frank Vogel gives the Lakers’ coaching staff credibility and will command respect from players on the roster. 

This team will have a monumental task ahead of them. I believe they will find it easier to make the playoffs, particularly as a top three seed in the west, but also to make a deep run in the playoffs. But for now, James and AD looked primed to make some noise in their first season together in “the city of angels.”