With NBA Season 2018 – 2019 coming soon we will be covering all 30 teams on a detailed level. With this coverage you will be able to easily know everything there is to know about team rosters, team moves, top players, things to watch, salaries, management and be up to date with the best league in the world.
It starts with Numbers and stats and goes to projections and analysis of the team players, coaches, style of play ( Scroll to the bottom if you are a gambler and all you care about are season projections..)
This is just the start of our new sports section so stay tuned in upcoming weeks.
Los Angels Lakers
Last season’s Standings: 35 wins and 47 losses (42% success).
Finished the season: 11th place in the West, out of the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season, the longest drought in club history.
Even though the Lakers missed the playoffs they still had a few bright spots in the past season. The team improved the standings significantly compared to previous seasons (13 wins in the past season), they looked competitive at times and formed an offensive style that showcased some of the most talented young players in the league.
The youngsters last season: Brandon Ingram began to justify the hype, Lonzo Ball showed sparks, Josh Hart and Kyle Kuzma turned out to be real steals.
Brandon Ingram made a huge leap in his second season and showed why he was chosen 2nd in the draft. Toward the end of the season when his shots started to fall with better percentages, then he displayed the incredible potential of a superstar in the making.
Lonzo Ball showed some of the best court vision in the league, excellent passing ability, strong team defender, one of the better rebounding guards. On the other hand; his shooting mechanics looked very poor at times and his scoring percentages were very low across the board.
Josh Hart, picked in the second round of the draft, was very impressive at (he was the MVP) the Vegas summer league. He is developing into a player who can contribute on both sides of the floor, with good defensive abilities and looks to be an above average rebounder for his position. If he can improve his offensive game, then he should be able to compete to be a starter on this team.
Kyle Kuzma, was picked at the end of the first round, he turned out to be a high quality offensive player with a much higher upside than expected. He has a good feel for the game on the offensive side but he needs to improve drastically defensively to get serious minutes as well needs to get slightly better on the boards.
What they did during the summer:
As you will see, a l-o-t …
In the draft, they picked three international players: Mo Wagner from Germany (played college ball at Michigan), a shooting big and a hustle player with great work ethic. Isaac Bonga, a German 18-year-old who is clearly not ready for the league but can be a special player – an athletic pure point guard standing 6.8 ft. tall. SVI Mykhailiuk, from the Ukraine is a shooting specialist out of Kansas University.
|Round||Pick||Player||Position||Nationality||School / Club team|
|2||39||Isaac Bonga||SF||Germany||Frankfurt Skyliners|
Free Agency Signings:
Left The Team: Luol Deng (buyout), Julius Randall, Brooke Lopez, Vander Blue, Andrew Bogut, Corey Brewer, Thomas Bryant, Tyler Ennis, Channing Frye, Gary Payton II and Isaiah Thomas
Arrived To The Team: Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, Michael Beasley, JaVale McGee, Joel Berry, Alex Caruzo and.. LeBron James
Expected Starting 5: Lonzo Ball, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Brandon Ingram, LeBron James, JaVale McGee
Bench: Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, Michael Beasley, Kyle Kuzma, Ivica Zubac, Moritz Wagner, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Josh Hart.
(2-way player: Joel Berry and Alex Caruzo)
Full roster and salary:
LeBron is the best player in the world and that means the world but he is also the only All-star on the team. There are a lot of question marks about other players on the roster at this point in time. In a league that features the Golden State Warriors, on paper the best roster ever assembled with 5 All-stars, that’s hardly enough to contend. On the positive end of things, the Lakers are a very deep team with at least two solid players in every position excluding the center position. The Lakers are planning to play a position-less style of basketball and a lot of ‘small ball’ and it is very suitable with the league trends, but there will be games in which the match-up will not work and not having a real threat at center does not leave much flexibility. In addition, while there are a few 3-point shooting experts in the team (e.g. Svi, Wagner, KCP), the senior players might not have enough shooting and it will make it difficult for them to space the floor.
Grades per position:
Point Guard: Lonzo/Rondo/Isaac Bonga: While the Lakers will have one of the best bench players in the position no matter who starts, they don’t have a shooter in either of those guys unless Lonzo improves really fast. The sure positive is that the basketball IQ. level between the two is off the charts, probably second only to Harden-Paul combo at Houston in terms of passing ability and they both rebound better than most point guards not named Westbrook or Harden.
Shooting Guard: KCP/ Stephenson/Hart: KCP will be solid and an average starter, Lance is really hard to anticipate but when his head is in the right place he can be one of the best players on the team. Josh Hart is developing into a valuable ‘3 & D’ but it’s yet to be seen if he can perform on offense at a consistent rate at the highest levels.
Very deep but will be weaker at the starter position in many games this year.
Small Forward: Brandon Ingram/Kyle Kuzma/Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk
Ingram is already a savvy two-way player with length, passing and shooting, an underrated above average defender with the potential upside to become a star within the next 2-3 seasons, Kuzma can give the Lakers good minutes as he is already a solid offensive player, a good rebounder (but a bad defender), SVI is an unbelievable shooter and a hustle player that could help for few minutes a game in situations where you need a shot.
Surprisingly good thanks to the depth and complementing skill sets. A lot of the Lakers season depends on Ingram and Kuzma’s development this year.
Power Forward: LeBron James/Michael Beasley
With Lebron playing his 37 minutes a night and being subbed by the offensively gifted Beasly for most of the other 11 that’s as good as it gets for this position.
Center: JaVale McGee, Moritz Wagner, Ivica Zubac
While McGee comes as a two-time champion, Wagner is a promising modern shooting center and Zubac is one of the craftiest young big’s and showed flashes of a good center, it’s just not enough for a playoff team. The Lakers are among the league worst at the center position and will have to hope for a very surprising season from Wagner/Zubac or a trade during the season. Otherwise the only option will be playing a lot of small ball with LBJ at Center.
Team Roster Overall Grade: B+
Able to read the floor on an all-time level, switch on almost anybody and a one-man offensive juggernaut Lebron makes the Lakers bigger than the sum of their parts, hide some of their flaws. The Lakers are expected to be an elite offensive team and a mediocre defensively.
Coach: Luke Walton, third season as coach.
For the first time in his short coaching career, Walton has a team built to win and not just develop young players. To coach LeBron James is a great privilege, but not an easy one. LeBron is known as a very opinionated player and has influenced Cleveland indirectly to fire David Blatt and appoint his friend Tyrone Lou. Walton is known as a coach that players love but if the Lakers do not start the season with a decent winning percentage, then he may not make it to the all-star game. On the other hand, it is very unlikely that he will not win a lot of games when he has the best player in the world on the floor every night together with 5-6 above average players around him. The big question in front of him will be whether he is able to adapt the style of play to his players or try to impose the method of play from last year that included extreme running and 3 pointers. If he doesn’t fine tune his system to fit LBJ and the rest of his roster Walton’s time as a head coach will be limited to this year. It is difficult to see LeBron James, his entire career dictating a relatively slow pace, plays as fast as Walton demanded his players last year. As he’s a “player’s coach”, we expect to see him going with at least a new version of that system but that would be something to monitor thought the season.
Management: Rob Pelinka, Erwin “Magic” Johnson
Since they were appointed to their position, there is no doubt that they have succeeded in transforming the situation of the team completely, creating a truly bright future. With LeBron signed for 4 years, room under the salary cap to sign another star next year and drafting very well so far, the next few years looks great if you are a Lakers fan. The upcoming season is a transition season of sorts and the final construction phase. During the offseason the Lakers will try to land another superstar next to LeBron like John Wall, Kemba Walker, Kahwi Leonard or Klay Thompson. The only criticism of the game of patience they have chosen is that Lebron is already at the end of his prime and the choice to build a mediocre team around him this year while waiting for the final piece of the puzzle is a waste of a precious year out of the last remaining of the best player in the world.
Style of play:
The Lakers of the past few years have played a less successful version of the Golden State Warriors basketball, running at every opportunity, a lot of passing, 3 pointers and fewer dribbles or isolations. Lance Stephenson, LeBron James, Rajon Rondo, Michael Beasley, have never played such style and it would be interesting to see if there will be a change to the system.
To maximize LeBron’s abilities we might see minutes with LeBron as a facilitator and playmaker surrounded by 4 shooters Mo Wagner, Ingram, Kuzma and Svi/KCP
The main goal for the season on the court: Playoffs. The Lakers have been out of the playoffs for five years, the longest run in the club’s history and anything outside of the playoffs will be a huge failure. The development of young players and specifically of Ingram to the level of a star will be a huge bonus.
Long-term goal: There is only one at any point in time for the Lakers: Championship, Championship and Championship. The Lakers are building an alternative to Golden State and aspiring to sign Kahwi Leonard or Klay Thompson in the summer. If they succeed at that and the youngsters continue to improve, they will have a very interesting group of guys. Loul Deng’s recent buyout gave them the flexibility to sign another superstar next summer.
Things to look for, what should we follow?
- First and foremost, after Leonard’s acclimatization in Toronto. If he chooses to leave, all odds say he will want to go home to Los Angeles and join the Lakers next season.
- Rondo-LBJ-Lonzo together on the same court. On one end, it shouldn’t work as playing 3 ball dominant playmakers, two of them can’t shoot (Rondo and Lonzo- unless Lonzo comes back with an improved shot) doesn’t’ sound like a good idea. On the other hand- this could be very special. I personally believe this is the best passing trio to ever step on an NBA court together for the same team. Yes, there have been some great duos (even the current Houston Rockets tandem) and really nice trios of passers (E.G. Bird’s Celtics or Lakers ShowTime roster). However, LBJ and Rondo have been among the best passers in the league for the last decade and possess vision that very few players have in league history, Lonzo is a passing savant with great anticipation and with all his flaws taken to account has still shown a unique, elite, feel for the game. If those three basketball IQ. monsters find a way to work together and have fun with it, we might see some of the most beautiful, smart, crafty plays we ever seen in highlights throughout the years.
- It will be interesting to see what is going on with the strange bunch of Stephenson, McGee, Beasley and Rondo (AKA “The meme team”). Each of them is a rare talent with a problematic history outside the court. There are not enough minutes for everyone and someone will have to give up. In addition, there is a significant age gap between the young Lakers and each of the players who signed this year including LeBron and that can create camps: There are 11 players on the team under 23 (11!!) and the 5 veterans with no one to “bridge” the ~10 difference between the two age groups. The locker room is expected to be one of the most interesting in the entire league.Let’s hope for the Lakers sack that it will be as boring as possible.
- Lonzo’s shot – he showed in his first season that he has a great feel for the game and is solid team defender, his shot looked particularly broken. It was really ugly at times. If he improves his shooting he can be an elite player in this league but if he continues to throw bricks he might find himself out of the starting position only in his second year when former all-star Rondo will wait for his chance to start.
Candidate for breakthrough year:
Brandon Ingram. In his second season, Ingrammade a quantum leap that made him a fringe candidate for the most improved player of the season. Magic described him as “the only player who is untouchable on the Lakers” LeBron said he could be no less than the new Scotty Pippen. If Brandon Ingram works in the weight room and gets stronger, more aggressive on the way to the basket and shoot it, every chance without the hesitation, he can be exactly the player they’re talking about. If he will be distracted, be passive, will have lots of turnovers like in his first season, then Lakers will have a big problem. Most predictions are that he will become that star this season when Bron attracts all the opponent’s defensive attention.
Josh Hart is also worth a mention but the competition in his position will limit his minutes.
*What NOT to follow: Lavar Ball.
Best Case Scenario:
The Lakers are already trading for Leonard, John Wall or Kemba Walker in January without losing too much of the young core. Kuzma, Ball, Ingram and Hart look like a future group and the connection between them and LeBron is fantastic. They finish with 53 wins in third place in the West, reach the Western Finals and lose six games to Houston or Golden State.
LeBron wins his last MVP, Ingram’s season’s most improved player and the Lakers conclude an excellent season. Any star in the league are looking for a way to join a party in the free agent market in 2019-2020.
Worst Case Scenario:
Defense is atrocious, the lack of a solid center is shown, ‘The meme team’ are disgruntled for lack of minutes and of-court issues pop every week, Lonzo’s shot stays the same and nobody can hit a three to save his life, Lebron looks to be slightly slower than before – resting on defense and Luke Walton resigns or fired mid-season. Team finishes with 42 wins which is a significant improvement over last year (worst case scenario or not, they still added LBJ) but in the crowded west it means they are still out of the playoff. None of the free agent stars wants to come next summer and the Lakers remain stuck in the middle of the pack.
Lebron James by himself means the Lakers are a playoff team, it’s realistic to assume that at least 2 of the 4 leading youngsters will show significant improvement and that offense with those players (LBJ, Ingram, Kuzma, Ball, Hart) combined with KCP, Rondo and Beasley should be one of the top 5 offenses in the league. The defense is a real concern with Rondo not always showing up during regular season, LBJ resting on defense on some possessions and too many one year contracts looking to get offensive stats.
The projection is 48 regular season wins, 6th in the west, a win without home court in the first round and elimination in the second round of the playoffs.
Ingram becomes a franchise player for years to come. Striking out on some of the top free agents and on a trade for Anthony Davis but still getting Kemba walker, Boogie Cousins on a two-year contract.