The Los Angeles Lakers made a lot of changes this offseason and will certainly look like a much different team this upcoming year. With so many young players, however, many experts don’t expect a massive improvement in the standings even if the team is better.
ESPN recently began their Summer Forecast series and in its Western Conference rankings, projected the Lakers to finish dead last, though they did predict the Lakers to improve from 17 to 25 wins.
The young Lakers definitely took notice of ESPN’s projections, and in a podcast with Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders, Larry Nance Jr. revealed that the team plans on using it as motivation to prove some people wrong this season:
“But all of us saw that ESPN came out with this, ‘Oh, you guys are supposed to finish last in the Western Conference’ and we all kinda scoffed at that because I think we’re gonna be better than people think we are. We take stuff like that and use it for motivation. So I don’t know if there’s an exact number we wanna hit, but it’s gonna be higher than what most people think.”
The pieces for the Lakers to improve are certainly there. Larry Nance Jr. and D’Angelo Russell looked excellent during Summer League; Julius Randle apparently impressed some people during the Team USA camp, and Jordan Clarkson looks like he’s been working on his jumper this summer.
Add in impressive rookies Brandon Ingram and Ivica Zubac as well as veteran additions such as Luol Deng, Timofey Mozgov, and Jose Calderon and the Lakers could absolutely surprise some people. Of course, most teams built around young, unproven players struggle to win immediately, so it’s not surprising that most see the Lakers remaining at the bottom of the West.
The team certainly has the right mindset as using things like this as motivation is the best way to go. If they can put everything together, the Lakers will have the opportunity to shock a lot of people this year.