With their Christmas night loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Los Angeles Lakers’ record dropped to 11-21. At this point last season they had the exact same record, but the feelings surrounding the team are much different.
The emergence of an exciting young core in Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and Kyle Kuzma, along with the improvements from returning young players such as Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle have fans excited about the future of the team. Additionally, this team has been extremely competitive all season long.
Clarkson, the longest-tenured Laker along with Randle, sees the difference as well and believes this team is better than last season’s.
“I think so. We’re not getting blown out by anybody,” Clarkson said after Monday’s loss. “I think the score [Monday] wasn’t indicative of how the game flow was. I feel like we’re right there. We’re out here competing every night.”
The competitiveness of this Lakers team can not be denied. They have eight double-digit losses so far this season, but only one of those was by more than 20 points. Furthermore, the Lakers were within single-digits in the fourth quarter in all but two of those games, having a real chance to win before the opposition ultimately pulled away.
There have also been plenty of other instances of the Lakers being down double-digits only to fight back and make it a competitive game. Most recently this happened on the road against the Golden State Warriors just last week.
The Lakers undoubtedly have some execution issues, particularly turnovers and free throw shooting, that need to be fixed. But the heart and competitiveness of this team is something that can’t be taught.
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