The Los Angeles Lakers are currently entering their first season in the past couple of decades without Kobe Bryant, as the future Hall of Famer retired after last season, going out in style as he scored 60 points and led the Lakers to a win over the Utah Jazz in his last game.
The focus this season will be on the growth of the team’s young nucleus, as young players like D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, Brandon Ingram and Larry Nance Jr. will all likely see extended minutes as they continue to develop.
The Lakers also have a young rookie head coach in Luke Walton, whose only NBA head coaching experience came last season with the Golden State Warriors when Steve Kerr was away from the team with an illness and Walton coached them to an NBA record 24-0 start and 39-4 overall record when Kerr returned to the team.
But Walton does not have the veteran talent with the Lakers that he did in Golden State, so he is faced with the tall task of turning around one of the most historic franchises in all of professional sports.
One person who will be watching the Lakers grow this season is rapper Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. aka Lil Wayne. He has been a Lakers fan for a long time and on an appearance on ESPN’s First Take, Lil Wayne had some advice to the young Lakers team:
“I think they should go out there the same way, just have fun and play ball and just try and figure something out for the time being. I don’t have any expectations.”
The way Walton has been playing the young players through the first four preseason games is starting Russell and Randle alongside veterans Lou Williams, Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov, with Clarkson, Ingram, and Nance Jr. all coming off the bench.
It is likely that all of the young players get an opportunity to start at some point in the season, though.
The Lakers were a franchise worst 17-65 last season.