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Glaring Issues Arise In Lakers Preseason

Lebron+James+giving+teammate+Lonzo+Ball+a+high+five.
Lebron James giving teammate Lonzo Ball a high five.

Lebron James giving teammate Lonzo Ball a high five.

Photo courtesy theodysseyonline.com

Photo courtesy theodysseyonline.com

Lebron James giving teammate Lonzo Ball a high five.

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The Lakers’ preseason has undoubtedly taken fans on a roller coaster. Though there may have been some glimpses of hope for fans, glaring issues have arisen.

The Lakers started the preseason with a two-game series against a solid offensive team, the Denver Nuggets, where they lost both games by a score of 124-107 and 113-111. Next, they played the Sacramento Kings and took their first victory 128-123. The Lakers then played their crosstown rival Los Angeles Clippers where they loss 103-87. To finish off the preseason, the Lakers beat the defending champion Golden State Warriors by scores of 123-113 and 119-105. Wins and losses don’t matter much in preseason, but some of the holes in the team were evident along with improvements.

The odd group of veterans added through free agency, JaVale McGee, Lance Stephenson, Michael Beasley, and Rajon Rondo, look solid. McGee provides great rim protection and sets solid screens. Stephenson provides a great spark off the bench. Beasley is a decent scorer. Rondo has had the most impact averaging 9.3 assists, according to TheScore, while playing less than 30 minutes a game. Coach Walton said in an interview with The Orange County Register that, “He knows how to manage a game. He’s been one of the best point guards in our game for years. And one of the smartest. So he knows what he’s doing.”

The addition of Lebron James to any team automatically makes them a contender, but is followed with an adjustment period for other players. Some of the young Laker core, such as Josh Hart and Brandon Ingram, benefitted from Lebron’s high basketball IQ, but Kyle Kuzma has had different results. Kuzma is a dominant on-ball scorer but with the addition of ball handlers, it has diminished his role. He hasn’t got as many touches and seems to lack the flare from his 1st Team All-Rookie season. However, with Lebron off the floor, Kuzma has made some dazzling plays with the ball in his hands. In their last game against the Warriors where Lebron did not play, he scored 19 points in 23 minutes.

Overall, the teams most glaring issues are their three-point shooting and defense. In the four preseason games, the Lakers shot 29.3% from the three-point line, according to NBA.com, which is an atrocious number. Many of the players they acquired this summer were not known for their shooting. At times, a great play for an open three was ruined by the clank off the rim. The Lakers have also been trying to run “positionless” basketball lineups. Instead of putting in players to fill each “position,” a team puts in a group of players who have complementing skill sets. Offensively, the ball movement and transition game is terrific. However, it is the defensive end that is killing the Lakers. They allow 115.6 points per game which is good for a 26th team in the league. Often, the rotation involves having Kuzma at the center, who is already subpar on that side of the ball. In the Nuggets series, he was eaten up by the strong and versatile Nikola Jokic. In the first quarter, Jokic continued to grab offensive boards over a helpless Kuzma, hitting him with an array of post moves leading to “and-one” layups.

The bottom line is that the Lakers vastly improved with the addition of LeBron and others to the young core, but in order to be championship contenders, the defense and shooting needs to be addressed.

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Glaring Issues Arise In Lakers Preseason