The Los Angeles Lakers had a relatively successful 2017-18 NBA season by winning 35 games and establishing an identity as a fast-paced, running team. In addition to a warp-speed offense, they also greatly improved on the defensive end, finishing 12th in defensive rating after landing dead last the season before.
The Lakers have a young core of Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart in place, and will have the opportunity to retain the services of Julius Randle in restricted free agency. In addition, the Lakers will have more cap space available than any other team this summer, which they can use to chase superstar free agents like LeBron James and Paul George.
However, some believe that the young Lakers are already headed in the right direction even if they aren’t able to sign a star this summer. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, one NBA general manager believes that the Lakers can win at least 40 games next season if they stand pat and bring back their own free agents:
“I had a GM say to me at the end of the year, who was playing against them, he said they cannot do anything with the team and he thought they’re a 40 to 45-win team next year. If they brought some of those guys back, they’ll be improved again. If they have a healthy Lonzo Ball, maybe more in NBA shape Lonzo Ball.”
As the anonymous GM notes, the Lakers didn’t have the best luck with injuries, losing Ball for extended stretches. Ingram also spent significant time on the sideline as well.
Randle was the lone player to appear in all 82 games for the Lakers this season, so with some better luck next year they could see a boost in wins based solely on health. Whether or not they re-sign veteran free agents Isaiah Thomas, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Brook Lopez will also have a major impact on the team’s fortunes next season.
Regardless, the Lakers will chase stars this summer, but perhaps the most important thing to take away is that, even if they don’t land one, the future is still very bright.
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