The Los Angeles Lakers’ 2017-18 schedule has finally been released and everyone can now circle the dates that they are looking forward to most. There is an anticipation around the franchise that hasn’t been around for years thanks to the team Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka assembled this offseason.
With young talent like Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle being joined by veterans like Brook Lopez and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the Lakers will be looking to surprise some teams this season.
Whether they are able to end their four-year playoff drought remains to be seen, but it should undoubtedly be a fun and exciting ride along the way.
Be it match-ups against old or new rivals, players returning to Staples Center, or off-court issues being settled on the floor, we take a look at our top-10 games to look forward to this season.
Los Angeles Clippers @ Los Angeles Lakers, October 19
Of course opening night will be on the list and the Lakers hosting their fellow Staples Center tenants in the Clippers should make for a great show. Lonzo Ball gets about as tough a match-up as possible for his first game as Patrick Beverley is one of the best on-ball defenders in the entire NBA and will make life hell on the rookie.
The Clippers have been claiming that they are now the premier team in Los Angeles, but with Chris Paul no longer there, they will also be turning the page towards a new chapter. The Lakers got a big win over the Clippers on Christmas Day last season so they will be looking to prove that was no fluke and leave no doubt as to who runs L.A.
Brooklyn Nets @ Los Angeles Lakers, November 3
There was plenty of talk about possible trades the Lakers could make this past offseason, but the only trade that actually came to fruition sent D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Nets for Brook Lopez and a draft pick that turned into Kyle Kuzma.
Who ultimately got the better of the deal won’t be known for some time, but Russell will certainly be looking to prove to the Lakers that they made a mistake in getting rid of him, while also matching up with the man who took his spot in Ball. There will be a lot of emotions in this match-up.
Los Angeles Lakers @ Boston Celtics, November 8
It’s Lakers-Celtics so anytime the two face off it’s an important game. Even their Summer League matchup sold out in Las Vegas. Even though the teams are at opposite ends of the spectrum right now, you can guarantee that both sides will go all out to beat each other and hold on to those bragging rights.
This will serve as the first look for the Lakers at no. 3 overall pick Jayson Tatum and Isaiah Thomas can remind the Lakers of what could’ve been had they signed him in free agency in 2014. The young Lakers will be looking to turn the tide in this long-time rivalry as they have lost four of the last five to the Celtics.
The rematch between these two will take place on January 23 at Staples Center.
Philadelphia 76ers @ Los Angeles Lakers, November 15
LaVar Ball hasn’t really endeared himself to a lot of people over the past few months and one of his more vocal critics has been Sixers center Joel Embiid. The two have traded barbs in the media ever since the draft in June and you can bet LaVar will be in the house to check out this game between two of the league’s most promising young teams.
Oh by the way, this is also a match-up between the top two picks of the draft in Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball. Also, because of injuries, this should also be the Lakers’ first up close look at both Embiid and last year’s top pick Ben Simmons. The talent on the floor in this one will be exciting.
Los Angeles Lakers @ Sacramento Kings, November 22
Back in the early 2000s the Lakers-Kings rivalry was the best in the NBA with both teams and fanbases absolutely despising each other. The rivalry now looks like it could start to pick back up thanks to a budding rivalry between Lonzo Ball and Kings rookie point guard De’Aaron Fox.
As is well known by now, Fox dominated Ball when the two met in the NCAA Tournament and even their fathers have been exchanging words since. An injury to Ball prevented fans from seeing them square off in Summer League so everyone will be eagerly anticipating seeing these two finally faceoff once again.
Golden State Warriors @ Los Angeles Lakers, November 29
The Warriors have had the best three-year run (record-wise) in NBA history, winning two championships and breaking the record for wins in a season along the way. One constant in this run however, has been one loss to the Lakers every season.
Adding to the fire this season is a Lonzo-Steph matchup people are anticipating ever since LaVar Ball’s comments earlier this year. The Brandon Ingram-Kevin Durant and Julius Randle-Draymond Green matchups are always fun to watch as well and Larry Nance Jr always seems to save one poster for the Warriors every year. The Lakers will definitely be looking to keep the streak going.
Minnesota Timberwolves @ Los Angeles Lakers, December 25
A battle of two of the best young cores in the NBA takes place in the night cap on Christmas Day as Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins lead the Timberwolves into Staples Center. Both teams made huge additions in the offseason as well with Minnesota adding Jimmy Butler and Jeff Teague among others while the Lakers added Ball, Brook Lopez, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
The two teams split their four games last season with eaching protecting their home court. The last time these two teams met, D’Angelo Russell hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to give the Lakers a win in what turned out to be his final game in a Lakers uniform. Minnesota hasn’t forgotten that and each of these lottery teams look set to be much improved from a season ago.
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Los Angeles Lakers, January 3
Everyone knew that Paul George would be traded this summer, but absolutely no one expected him to get dealt to the Oklahoma City Thunder and team up with reigning MVP Russell Westbrook. Regardless of the deal, the Lakers are still viewed as the favorite to land George in free agency and there’s no better way to entice him than the Lakers showing how improved they are face-to-face.
Of course, Westbrook is also a free agent next summer so everything said about enticing George applies to the MVP as well. This game also gives Ingram and Ball the chance to match-up head-to-head against two of the best players at their respective positions. No better way to see where they stand amongst the NBA’s elite.
Los Angeles Lakers @ Dallas Mavericks, January 13
In January of 2017 the Lakers went to Dallas for a Sunday afternoon game. They would go on to lose by 49 points, a franchise worst. In January of 2018 the Lakers will again be in Dallas for a Sunday afternoon game and revenge will definitely be on their mind.
This game also marks the first match-up between Lonzo Ball and Dennis Smith Jr., considered by many as the two favorites for Rookie of the Year. It is very possible that whoever gets the better of this match-up could have the inside track on that award.
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Los Angeles Lakers, March 11
Some fans may not like to hear it, but the LeBron James to Los Angeles rumors aren’t going anywhere and it looks more and more possible that he could be wearing purple and gold next season. One thing is for sure, it will be very interesting to see what kind of crowd reaction James will get when he steps foot on the Staples Center floor.
Last season the Lakers played one of their better games against Cleveland as D’Angelo Russell and Kyrie Irving went back-and-forth. Now Russell is gone and Kyrie is likely to be dealt as well leaving the stage for two outstanding passers in Ball and James.