The Los Angeles Lakers have used the 2017 NBA offseason to completely reset the direction of the franchise, with a sense of optimism surrounding the organization. The 2017 Las Vegas Summer League championship was a testament to the improving young core, while the acquisitions of Brook Lopez and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope provide an immediate improvement.
Magic Johnson, Rob Pelinka, and Luke Walton have been in unison this offseason, envisioning the franchise adjusting to the up-tempo pace with Ball now leading the offense. Ball’s entrance into the NBA turned into a spectacle, with father LaVar Ball and the Big Baller Brand also captured their fair share of headlines.
The headlines for LaVar reached a tipping point when Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid encouraged Ben Simmons to dunk on Lonzo in spite of his father. The 76ers and Lakers have created quite the rivalry going into the 2017-18 season, with NBA legend Charles Barkley convincingly giving the nod to his former team, via TMZ Sports:
“The Sixers. Much better.”
The 76ers and Lakers rivalry also gained some steam when the 76ers acquired the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. With the first two picks being Markelle Fultz and Ball, a little competitive relationship formed with both players stating they are the premier talent in the draft.
Ball and Fultz both competed against one another in the Pac 12 during their lone collegiate seasons, with some familiarity as they now both adjust to the NBA. While both teams are on the rise, Barkley exclaimed his thoughts on the Lakers chances of making the playoffs this upcoming season:
“No. Hell No!”
Barkley is well known for his outlandish remarks and statements as an NBA analyst, continually making headlines by not being afraid to tell hard truths. However, the Lakers surely think otherwise entering what Pelinka called a “Lakers year.”
Larry Nance Jr. confidently stated that the Lakers will make the playoffs this season, while the front office also set high expectations for the 2017-18 season.