The Los Angeles Lakers have long been one of the NBA’s glamour franchises. They generate interest regardless of their standing in the hierarchy of basketball powers and boast the largest fan base in the league. Yet, in what is unquestionably a rebuilding year, there is still a lot of optimism surrounding the team, largely due to the arrival of new head coach Luke Walton and the development of young players like D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, and Jordan Clarkson.
However, not everyone shares in that optimism. An anonymous NBA scout recently broke down Western Conference teams for SI.com, and had some less-than-flattering things to say about the Lakers:
They’ll be the worst team in the West and bottom-three overall with Brooklyn and Philadelphia. … The best-case scenario for them is that Russell becomes a high-level starter, Ingram is in the Rookie of the Year mix, and they get a clear sense for how Randle fits into their long-term plans. All of those things could happen and they still might not win 25 games.
Of course, Walton has already stated that the team won’t be judged by wins and losses, so a poor record this season wouldn’t be the end of the world. After all, the Lakers would greatly benefit from retaining their top-three protected pick this summer, and the development of the team’s young players is going to be the deciding factor in this season’s ultimate success or failure. That being the case, the scout did have some positive things to say about Russell:
Russell is their most important player. The style shift will work if he makes it work and it will fail if he’s not quite ready. I think he’s ready for a breakout. He is an electric player when he’s playing well: he can score, shoot and set others up. He has the talent and confidence to be an All-Star, but that’s a long way off. He’s like a redshirt freshman because Bryant dominated everything
That’s high praise for a player who has seen a meteoric rise since he burst on to the college scene. While the scout wasn’t very optimistic for the Lakers fortunes this season, there is still plenty of hope for the future. Besides, if the team continues to perform like they did against the Houston Rockets in the season opener, a lot of opinions will change very quickly.