No Lebron, No Paul, No Problem-Lakers on the Rise

The city affectionately known as L.A., located in Southern California is known for its great weather, palm trees, and an overwhelming amount of rich talent that culminates on the big screen.

And I ain’t just talking about Hollywood.

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Downtown Los Angeles is home to the Staples Center, and it is there where the talent lies in the hallowed locker room of the NBA’s most premiere franchise, the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers did not make the playoffs this year- big whoop, who cares?

Here in Los Angeles, we were just all simply enamored with the buzz that this young team was generating.

Will Lonzo Ball be a bust or a star?

Will Magic Johnson trade Julius Randle?

Did you see Kyle Kuzma last night?!

In the beginning of the season, it seemed as though this season was going to be relegated to an audition for the Lakers in an attempt to persuade a big name star such as Lebron “the GOAT” James, or Paul George to come and play for the purple and gold.

Did they succeed?

That remains to be seen but the Lakers are definitely exciting to watch again.

The days of Laker great Kobe Bryant jacking up shots at a high volume and playing hero ball are long gone. From those ashes, a team with a promising future has risen.

The young, dynamic core of Ball, Randle, Kuzma, and Brandon Ingram are good enough to win a championship one day.

Randle dealt with trade rumors the entire first half of the season, but he’s put in the work this season that has certainly made offseason decisions a lot tougher for Lakers President of Basketball Operations, Magic Johnson and team General Manager, Rob Pelinka. Since the All-Star break, Randle has averaged 21.6 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, putting him in the same esoteric room as five other NBA all-stars who have averaged at least 20 points and 10 assists this season- Anthony Davis, Demarcus Cousins, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embid, and Karl Anthony Towns. Not to mention, Randle put in tremendous off season work last summer, completely transforming his body and changing his diet.

Ball is a Swiss army knife of a player who has been unfairly criticized this season for not living up to his “Big Baller” standards. But keep in mind, this is a rookie that is averaging 10.1 points, 7.2 assists, and 7.0 rebounds per game.

Forget what you heard.

The kid can play, and is truly the engine that gets this team going. When he is on the court, 60.6 percent of the Lakers baskets come on assists, as opposed to when he is off the court: 56.1 of their scores are made unassisted. That highlights the fact that Ball has quietly become the Lakers floor general, and his on-court personality and basketball IQ will only augment in time. Plus the Lakers boast a higher defensive rating with Ball on the court; 104.1 defensive rating on the court and 106.8 off the court. He has a high ceiling, and in the worst case scenario, he’ll be the Draymond Green of this team.

The tandem of rookie sensation Kuzma and great value Kevin Durant Ingram have been paramount this season, and provide a much needed scoring punch for the Lakers. Ingram is the second leading scorer on the team (16.1 ppg), and shoots the best percentage from the three-point line at an impressive 39%. He had his career high against the Golden State Warriors earlier this year, dropping 32 points (while being guarded by KD??-Watch game review), and clearly shows promise. Kuzma has been a pleasant surprise, arguably outperforming Ball this season. The 27th pick of the 2017 NBA draft has averaged 16.0 points playing power forward, but has recently shown versatility in the past 13 games, starting as the small forward with Ingram out due to a groin injury. Kuzma has shown maturity this season in various ways, and after reports surfaced that he had dinner with Kobe Bryant, don’t be surprised if he develops that poleaxing, killer mentality in time as well.

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Sure, LA is a beautiful place and an attractive destination for free agents but if I’m Magic Johnson, I’m not so sure that I would pick up the phone and call King James and Paul George. I might be willing to make an exception for Kawhi Leonard if he were available, but only because I believe his quiet personality would be a good fit for the culture that these new age Lakers are developing.

I’m telling you, this team is like Amazon stocks back in 1997, so you might want to buy in now.

Because the Lakers are on the rise.


**Hey guys! Follow me on twitter @mark_a_gilbert to check out more columns, videos, and accurate sports analysis!

1 Comment

  1. Spurs get: Luol Deng, Brandon Ingram, Ivica Zubac, Cavs Pick, Future picks.
    Lakers get: Kawhi Leonard.

    – Draft kostas Antetokoumpo with #47 pick.
    – Pick up Liangelo Ball from undrafted list.
    – Lakers sign Paul George and LeBron James.
    – Lakers sign Dedmon, Channing Frye, Mario Chalmers.

    Line up:
    Lonzo/ Chalmers/ Caruso
    George/ Hart/ Liangelo(2-way)
    Kawhi/ Kuzma/ Wear
    LeBron/ Frye/ Antetokoumpo (g-league)
    Dedmon/ Bryant/

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