The Los Angeles Lakers showed the rest of the league they are nearly in top form during their three scrimmages and again in a matchup with the L.A. Clippers as the NBA restart tipped off.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis have looked just as dominant as they did during the regular season, while the rest of the rotation and bench have produced stretches of productive play as well.
One of the brighter spots during the Lakers exhibition schedule was how well JR Smith and Dion Waiters performed. Both made their debut for Los Angeles and neither one disappointed, flashing scoring and shotmaking ability that was previously missing from the bench.
After their showings, head coach Frank Vogel acknowledged Smith and Waiters both made an impression and entered the playoff rotation picture.
“They both definitely did. I think they’ve had really strong bursts. Today was probably the best day for both of them. We know they’re talented. For me, it’s been an opportunity to shape their play the way we want them to fall into their roles. Their roles are different,” Vogel explained earlier this week.
“In terms of JR, we asked him to be more aggressive in his catch-and-shot offense, and he was just that (Monday); knocked down 6-for-7. For Dion, to be very aggressive touching the paint, trying to get to the charge circle, making good reads.
“When the guys are coachable and they’re trying to do what you’re asking them to do, they do it at a high level and definitely make the case for being in a playoff rotation. We believe those guys are going to give us a big lift come playoff time.”
Vogel has been impressed with the new additions during the team’s stay in Orlando, saying things like how they bring a certain toughness and swag the Lakers needed.
Aside from the intangibles they bring, they have transitioned almost seamlessly with the purple and gold, competing on the defensive end while fulfilling their roles well on offense.
Waiters shines in restart
After performing well during exhibition play, Waiters carried that momentum with him as the Lakers began their seeding games schedule. Waiters helped carry the bench offensively and spaced the floor when playing in a lineup with Davis and James.
He finished with 11 points, three rebounds and two assists in 21 minutes.
Smith missed the only shot he took and was scoreless in seven minutes.
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