Years of futility put the Los Angeles Lakers in previously unchartered territory but led to the franchise collecting a talented group of young assets. One of which — D’Angelo Russell — invariably led the Lakers creating enough salary cap space to sign LeBron James.
Although there was some belief James’ arrival would lead to the Lakers breaking up their young core, he was impressed by the group and eager to play alongside Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma.
James has regularly praised his younger teammates, even attempting to take pressure off them by explaining why expecting regular contributions was ‘unfair.’ With the season having gone awry, the Lakers are tracking to miss the playoffs a sixth consecutive year.
They enter Saturday’s matchup against the Boston Celtics on a four-game losing streak and losers in six of eight games since the All-Star break. At 30-35, the Lakers are hardly guaranteed to improve on last season’s win total of 36.
Kuzma, at least, is hopeful. “It would be nice to get more wins than last year,” he said. “I don’t want to lose, don’t want to keep losing.
“Yeah, you’re at the development stage of the season, but it’s still a lot more fun to win than to develop and lose. It’s kind of a terrible feeling. It’s always about winning, no matter what.”
No matter how it ultimately shakes out, the Lakers face long odds of matching or besting the nine-win improvement they saw in each of head coach Luke Walton’s first two seasons.
As for Kuzma’s possible contributions to at least reaching 36 wins, he hopes to play Saturday after missing a game due to a sprained right ankle. He’s officially considered questionable after participating in 75 percent of Friday’s practice.