For the first time in 20 years, the Los Angeles Lakers will enter the NBA season with a roster not-including Kobe Bryant. That means no morenumber 24. No more Black Mamba. No more, “KOBE…KOBE…KOBE!” chants echoing throughout Staples Center. With Bryant gone, many questions arise: Who is going carry the scoring the load? Who is going to lead a comeback, if needed? Take the
last shot? Be the next Laker great? And the exciting thing is: We are going to find out.
Third-year shooting guard, Jordan Clarkson, just inked a four-year contract and is looking for a breakout season.
Two consecutive number-two picks in back-to-back drafts brought in D’angelo Russell in 2015 and Brandon Ingram this year.
Russell impressed in 2016’s Las Vegas Summer League with averages of 21.8 ppg/6.3 apg/4.0 rpg and his maturation and emergence as a leader will be instrumental moving forward, as we know the scoring and offense will come.
Russell and Ingram along with Clarkson, 2016 second-round pick, Ivica Zubac, and athletic bigs Larry Nance Jr. and Julius Randle provide for a promising future.
In addition to a tremendous young core, the Lakers added veteran players Timofey Mozgov, Luol Deng and Jose Calderon to balance out their roster.
And, of course, the hiring of Luke Walton as their new head coach has fans excited as he comes from a Golden State Warriors team that reached the finals in each of the last two seasons and won a title in 2015.
The question now is: How will the Lakers do this season?
There are no expectations for the team except maybe to win more games, which they will.
This season is about developing young players and building chemistry as the team learns Walton’s system.
I expect a 30-35 win season, although, the amount of wins is not important. But rather how the Lakers get each win and grow together.
For the first time in a few years, Lakers’ fans have something to be excited about and the excitement will continue to rise for years to come.