The Los Angeles Lakers are coming off of their worst season in franchise history. They won just 17 games and the young crop of talent on the roster had to play in Kobe Bryant’s shadow as a part of the Mamba’s farewell tour. Now as an avid Laker lover and Kobe fanatic, I can’t say I minded that much. I mean, the Byron Scott led team had no hopes of any real contention so at least we all got to celebrate one of our greats one last time. However, because of the disappointing season the Lakers had, no one gave this young team a chance at showing much improvement this year. Not even with new head coach Luke Walton and a third straight lottery pick, Brandon Ingram in tow. Experts gave the Lakers a chance of winning about 21 games this season, just a plus four improvement over last year.
So far with eight games in the books the young Lakers are sitting at 4-4 and defying expectations. Walton has the team playing hard, together, and with a confidence level that has made them one of the most exciting teams to watch this year. Julius Randle is having a breakout season for L.A. and D’Angelo Russell has taken over the reigns of the team and is comfortable in his leadership role at point. Not only is Walton getting the best out of his young talent, he has also coached the Lakers to having the highest scoring bench in the NBA. Even Swaggy P, aka Nick Young, has been a legitimate force on defense, which I argue has fueled his consistency on offense.
Can this young group that’s over-performing keep it up and remain a .500 team all year? The odds say they can’t but those same odds probably had this Lakers squad as a winless team up to this point. There is no denying that the Lakers will not be contenders this season, but they come to play every game and teams can’t expect to just walk all over them and get a win. Teams must prepare for this group of Lakers because they have proved to be capable of beating the best the league has to offer. They have a great mix of fresh young talent with sky-high potential and patient veterans willing to mentor and help the young guys grow. I think the Lakers will be better than most realize (they already are!) and win at least 30 games this season. If they continue with the pace they are on now they could end the year with a record close to .500. At the very least, Luke has given the Lakeshow hope again and this team will be a dominant force to reckon with in years to come.