The Los Angeles Lakers have made a number of additions this off-season. Brandon Ingram and Ivica Zubac both look like promising draft picks, while veterans Luol Deng, Timofey Mozgov, and Jose Calderon bring experience and professionalism. New head coach Luke Walton may be the most important change as a whole.
All of that combined with the internal growth expected from D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, and Larry Nance Jr. has brought a new sense of optimism and hope surrounding the Lakers. The experts at ESPN don’t believe that will lead to a lot more wins, however.
ESPN’s annual Summer Forecast series projected the Lakers to finish dead last in the Western Conference, though they do believe the team will improve on its 17 win performance last season and win 25 games:
The 2016-17 season will be the first since 1995-96 without Kobe Bryant in a Lakers uniform. Kobe’s retirement might not help ticket sales, but it will give D’Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram a chance to shine in L.A.’s spotlight. That should allow the Lakers a chance to improve on a franchise-worst 17 wins last season.
The projections on the Lakers do seem relatively fair. While the Lakers do have a lot of promising young talent, it is still unproven for the most part. It is very rare that a team full of young players leaps into a playoff chase, but moving into the 25-30 win range and being more competitive overall would certainly be a welcome improvement.
The Lakers young players have certainly shown some flashes this summer. Russell and Randle were singled out by Paul George for their performance at the Team USA camp and Kevin Durant said that Ingram was further along than he was at the same age.
Walton recently said that expectations wouldn’t be judged by wins and losses this season, it is all about setting the foundation for years to come. If the kids develop quicker than expected, however, those wins could come a little sooner than expected.