The Los Angeles Lakers received an influx of talent and excitement through the 2017 NBA Draft by selecting Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart. Ball was the headliner, but Kuzma and Hart went on to have successful seasons themselves.
There were early signs of the chemistry the group would have when Ball and Kuzma were instrumental to the Lakers winning the Las Vegas Summer League 2017 championship. Then as the season progressed, many saw the bond between Ball, Kuzma, Hart and even Brandon Ingram form.
The young core not only led to a nine-win improvement from the previous season, but it seemingly was instrumental in LeBron James electing to sign with the Lakers in free agency.
Furthermore, the development process is not lost on Lakers assistant coach Miles Simon, who told Mike Trudell he has noticed the relationship between the team’s youngsters continuing to grow over a shared goal:
“I can see a bond forming with Kuz and Josh, and there was already the Zo bond. These young guys are growing together, and we talk about the playoff games almost daily. ‘This is where we want to be. We want to get to the championship. We gotta spend this time in the gym to keep getting better and pushing ourselves.’ So they’ve been getting after it hard, and between us, they don’t have to be here (at the UCLA Health Training Center). We can’t mandate them to be here. But to have them in the gym and for them to have confidence in our coaching staff and our strength staff to get them better is really big.”
It obviously is great to see the relationships form through daily hard work in preparation for next season. Several of the Lakers have also been open about their goal for next season: to make the playoffs.
This had been an established for quite some time now, as back in March, head coach Luke Walton felt that the roster as it was constructed (prior to free agency) was capable of making the playoffs this season.