Los Angeles Lakers basketball finally made its return this week as the Lakers took on a couple of Western Conference teams that they are all too familiar with. The week started off with a 98-95 victory over the Denver Nuggets. Thursday was not as kind as the Lakers suffered a 120-105 loss to the Golden State Warriors.
Fans got their first glimpses of Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash for the first time in many months and though both have played limited minutes, it was exciting to see both veterans back on the court.
This week also featured the Lakers debut of a number of new additions. Jeremy Lin, Carlos Boozer and Ed Davis are all looking to make impacts in new places, while rookies Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson are getting their first taste of NBA basketball.
There have been some good, exciting moments as well as some moments that have had fans feeling like it is last season all over again. But what has stood out the most?
We asked our panel of experts, what is the biggest thing to catch your eye in the Lakers’ first two preseason games? This is what they had to say:
Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner): There’s been a few things that have stuck out in the first two preseason games for the Lakers, but I’d say the play of newcomer Ed Davis has impressed me the most.
No one thought the Lakers had a chance at signing Davis in the off-season. It was believed that he would secure a somewhat lucrative deal with a team over the summer after impressive stints with the Toronto Raptors and Memphis Grizzlies. Instead, Davis took a sizable discount to sign a two-year deal with the Lakers.
In two games thus far, Davis has proven to be a massive upgrade over Robert Sacre off the bench. Davis is an instant spark on both ends of the floor and seems to have already struck up some chemistry with point guard Jeremy Lin.
Davis has been incredibly efficient in limited minutes putting up 12 points in 12 minutes against the Denver Nuggets while adding four blocks. Against the Golden State Warriors, Davis continued to impress with six points, seven rebounds (five offensive boards) and a steal in 16 minutes on the floor.
The 25-year-old North Carolina product may have found a home in Los Angeles if he continues to play well off the bench. Davis already appears to be the team’s best rim protector and a much more versatile option than Sacre giving him a shot to secure considerable minutes under head coach Byron Scott this season.
Russell Valenzuela (@RussVal4): Jordan Clarkson’s overall aggressiveness was a good sight to see. He was able to continue right where he left off during summer league and show why he was considered a first-round talent coming into the draft.
The shots weren’t exactly falling for Clarkson Monday, but he was able to get off the floater that he loves to take. With more playing time and practice, not only will those baskets go down, but his overall game would improve especially with Byron Scott as head coach.
Scott has a history of helping young guards develop into star players in the league. In New Orleans he had Chris Paul, and he helped guide Kyrie Irving during his time in Cleveland. Clarkson isn’t expected to be an all-pro like Paul and Irving, but he can grow into a real solid player under Scott.
Unfortunately, he strained his left calf during Thursday’s game and will be out at least a week. Hopefully, Clarkson will be able to resume basketball activities soon and continue improving his game.
Nathan Kim (@Kimchiz): After watching both preseason games, I was pretty impressed by Ed Davis and Jeremy Lin.
In the game against Denver, Davis ended the night with 12 points and 4 blocks in just 12 minutes of play. Davis looked aggressive, going right to the basket almost every time he had the ball. In the second game against the Warriors, Davis had 7 rebounds and 6 points during 15 minutes.
Davis showed a glimpse of what he can bring to the table, making strong drives to the basket, protecting the rim, and grabbing rebounds. If he can continue to do this, I think he’ll be able to
contribute immensely to the team, as well as finally gaining a foothold in the league as a solid big man.
Lin only scored 1 point in the opener, but he also had 10 assists in the game and was able to get to the rim to dish it out to other players on multiple occasions. Lin made 4 out of 4 shots and only had 1 turnover. He was able to score 14 points and had 4 assists.
Lin impressed me because of his ability to penetrate. As he develops as a point guard, and learns from both Kobe and Nash, he can be an excellent facilitator by running the offense that Byron Scott wants.
He also showed his ability to shoot the ball, which displays his versatility. That will be key as the Lakers may need him to play multiple positions due to injury, but Lin seems to be up to the challenge.
Corey Hansford (@TheeCoreyH): A couple of things have really stood out to me in these first two games of the season. One positive, and one negative.
On the positive side, I believe this year’s bench can be even better than last season’s. Jeremy Lin is proving to be an excellent floor general and has already established great chemistry with big man Ed Davis who is an excellent finisher and rim protector. Add in the explosiveness of rookies Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson and the potential for major production is there.
And this has been evident even without the best player off the bench Nick Young. Once he is able to return the Lakers have an entire lineup that they could rely on off the bench. Something very few teams can claim to have.
On the other end, something that is worrisome is the lack of shooting. Losing guys like Jodie Meeks, Jordan Farmar, and Kendall Marshall really took away the Lakers’ best floor spacers. Young and Steve Nash are the only players I would consider “knockdown shooters” in the rotation.
If the Lakers are unable to space floor correctly, teams will really start crowding the paint, making life tougher for the bigs, and Kobe who likes to operate down low. It is something that will need to be solved for the Lakers to reach their potential.[divide]
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