While 2019 NBA preseason results can be deceiving, the Lakers certainly looked ready to take on the world in their dominant 126-93 win over the Golden State Warriors.
It should be noted the Warriors opted to rest Stephen Curry and were without both Kevon Looney and Willie Cauley-Stein, who will likely be their starting and backup centers. Even so, the Lakers looked to be on another level as they beat up the Warriors in the paint while using stifling defense to hold them to just 37% shooting overall and 21% from three.
With head coach Frank Vogel at the helm, it’s becoming clear this version of the Lakers is going to build their identity around getting stops. Against the Warriors, Vogel started Avery Bradley, Danny Green, James, Davis, and JaVale McGee, which is arguably his best five-man combination on the defensive end of the floor.
The results with this particular group have been promising, as both Green and Bradley have the ability to pester perimeter players into difficult looks while Davis and McGee (who both possess 7’6″ wingspans and bouncy athleticism) make life difficult for opponents in the paint. Davis can defend out to the three-point line as well and that gives the Lakers what they need to potentially be one of the better defensive teams in the league, particularly if James can stay as locked in on that end as he has been in the preseason.
Another key takeaway was the debut of Quinn Cook, who just may have thrown the competition for guard minutes for a loop with his 4-of-5 shooting from deep and skill handling the ball in pick-and-roll situations. Cook finished with 16 points and three assists and showcased why teams can’t sag off of him in the midrange as well as the ability to penetrate, collapse the defense, and then find Davis or Dwight Howard for easy dunks.
Cook struggles on the defensive end, but no other guard on the Lakers roster has been as electric as he was against his former team. Will he eat into the minutes of Rajon Rondo — who sat out the game for rest? Or will Cook push Alex Caruso to the bench?
There are still plenty of questions that need to be answered but for now, the Lakers look like a lot of fun again.