We are here once again. Training camp isn’t too far away and the NBA has released the full schedule for the 2022-23 season. Things are a bit different for the Los Angeles Lakers this season as expectations are down following last season’s failure to reach the postseason.
The offseason has been full of rumors and possibilities, but no big move has been made as of yet, though it seems like an inevitability that Russell Westbrook will be dealt before the season begins. Regardless, the Lakers did make some changes to the roster around the star duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
After last season’s veteran experience failed, the Lakers’ front office went the youth route this season. The team brought in wings Lonnie Walker IV, Juan Toscano-Anderson and Troy Brown Jr. as well as a pair of bigs who previously spent time with the Lakers in Damian Jones and Thomas Bryant.
While the Lakers aren’t the championship favorite they were in previous seasons, they are always a team worth watching and plenty of eyes will be on them this season, but in particular, these 10 contests.
Los Angeles Lakers @ Golden State Warriors – Tuesday, October 18
An Opening Night rematch sees the Lakers travel up to the Bay Area to witness the Golden State Warriors receive their championship rings. Last season, the Lakers looked on their way to an impressive Opening Night victory before things fell apart in the fourth quarter in what would become a re-occurring theme of the season.
This season, the Lakers look to return the favor by ruining ring night for the team who has been the preeminent franchise of the last decade. The Warriors, of course, bring back Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, which is sure to keep them among championship favorites so this will be a real test to see where the Lakers stand.
This will also be new head coach Darvin Ham’s first official game in charge, and former Warrior Juan Toscano-Anderson will receive his ring as well.
Los Angeles Clippers @ Los Angeles Lakers – Thursday, October 20
The Lakers don’t get an easy start to the season as Opening Night is followed by the team’s home opener against their crosstown rival Los Angeles Clippers. Much like the Lakers, there are a ton of questions surrounding the Clippers as well as health has undone them in the last couple seasons.
But should both teams be healthy, it will be a star-studded affair with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George looking to cement the Clippers as the best team in the city. James and Davis will be sure to fight that every step of the way and the contests between these two teams have taken on a playoff atmosphere over the last few seasons making this a must-watch.
Additionally, the Clippers swept the Lakers last season and the team definitely hasn’t forgotten that with this game being the first chance to forget last season’s disappointment.
Los Angeles Lakers @ Phoenix Suns – Tuesday, November 22
Speaking of rivalries that have picked up over the last couple seasons, and teams that swept the Lakers last year, enter the Phoenix Suns. Things were pretty heated between these teams following their 2021 playoff matchup and it almost seemed as if they took pleasure in dominating the Lakers last year.
With Devin Booker and Chris Paul leading the way, and big man DeAndre Ayton now locked in, Phoenix should again be one of the top teams in the West despite their flame out in the playoffs last season. The Lakers definitely haven’t forgotten how things went down last year and will be looking forward to turning the tide in this budding rivalry.
Los Angeles Lakers @ Milwaukee Bucks – Friday, December 2
New Lakers head coach Darvin Ham makes his return to the place where he had been since 2018. Ham followed head coach Mike Budenholzer from Atlanta to Milwaukee and made a huge impact, helping the Bucks to the 2021 NBA Championship. Now, Ham will head back to face the coach who helped shape his own philosophies and the team that got him a championship ring as a coach.
For the Lakers, and Davis in particular, this is an opportunity to show he is still at the level of Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo. The former MVP dominated the Lakers last season with 40-point performances in both contests and ending any argument about the league’s premier athletic forward. This is also the first game of the Lakers’ longest road trip of the season, six games.
Direct competition tends to drive the greats. Giannis still views LeBron as the benchmark so he looks to go all out. Davis can do the same if he see Giannis in that light and plans to put himself back in that category.
Los Angeles Lakers @ Philadelphia 76ers – Friday, December 9
The other major contest of that six-game road trip involves a trip to Philadelphia to face perennial MVP candidate Joel Embiid and the 76ers. Philly should once again be one of the best teams in the East and a win on the road here could show that the Lakers are better than some expect them to be.
Last season in Philadelphia may have been Davis’ best game of the season. Going head-to-head with Embiid, Davis was dominant with 31 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks while operating primarily in the paint as opposed to the perimeter. It was one of the games that showed what Davis is capable of when focused and we could be seeing more of with the offense set to run through him.
A victory here for the Lakers could give them a statement win to cap a tough road trip.
Boston Celtics @ Los Angeles Lakers – Tuesday, December 13
It’s Lakers-Celtics, really what more needs to be said? It’s the biggest rivalry in basketball and up there with the greatest in all of sports period.
Last season, the two teams split their meetings with each team defending their home court, though the Lakers did get their win before Boston turned their season around and ultimately made it all the way to the NBA Finals.
After coming so close last year, Boston will be anxious to build off that and Jayson Tatum is one of the best young stars in the league. But the Lakers will have to be motivated to not let the Celtics pick up a win on the purple and gold floor.
Los Angeles Lakers @ Dallas Mavericks – Sunday, December 25
Christmas Day actually sees the Lakers on the road this year as they’ll head to Dallas to take on young superstar Luka Doncic and the Mavericks. While it certainly wouldn’t be categorized as a rivalry, these two teams have produced some of the most entertaining contests of the last couple seasons.
Last season saw the arrival of Austin Reaves in the national limelight after his game-winner gave the Lakers an overtime victory in Dallas. A couple years earlier was the memorable Luka-LeBron duel where each recorded a triple-double and Danny Green hit a corner 3 at the buzzer to send the game to overtime where the Lakers would ultimately win.
The two teams also faced off on Christmas Day of the 2020-21 season with the Lakers getting an easy victory. Needless to say, any time these two teams meet there is a chance of a classic contest, and Christmas Day will see the most eyes on them.
Los Angeles Lakers @ Brooklyn Nets – Monday, January 30
This is a game with a ton of possibilities as to what it may look like. As it currently stands, this is a meeting of the two teams who were the biggest disappointments last season and a star-studded one at that with two of the greatest of all-time in LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
The bigger question is which team Kyrie Irving will be suiting up for and whether Durant will be there at all. This could be a return to Brooklyn for the point guard and he likely won’t be received too well.
This is a massive question mark game, but one surrounded by a ton of intrigue and possibilities as to who can be on the court. Either way, it will be one to watch.
Memphis Grizzlies @ Los Angeles Lakers – Tuesday, March 7
Everyone’s favorite Spaniard gets immortalized as the Lakers will raise Pau Gasol’s No. 16 jersey into the rafters with the rest of the Lakers legends where it belongs. It was the Gasol trade in 2008 that completely changed the Lakers’ fortunes and led to two championships in 2009 and 2010.
Gasol was a one-of-a-kind skilled big man who paired perfectly with Kobe Bryant to form a devastating duo and it is absolutely crushing that the Black Mamba isn’t here to take part in this ceremony. And it definitely isn’t a coincidence that the game chosen is against the team where he spent the beginning of his career.
Gasol spent six-plus seasons with the Grizzlies before coming to L.A. and now Memphis is home to one of the most exciting players to come in the league in years in Ja Morant. The young point guard has completely turned the Grizzlies into one of the best teams in the league, finishing second in the West and ultimately falling to the champion Warriors.
The combination of a ceremony honoring an all-time great, and an exciting team to oppose the Lakers, makes this perhaps the most anticipated contest of the year.
Chicago Bulls @ Los Angeles Lakers – Sunday, March 26
Any time Alex Caruso returns to Los Angeles it is a big deal. Many are still hurt that the Lakers let the high-flying guard go and he proved himself to be one of the best defensive guards in the entire league. He will surely receive another hero’s welcome when he steps out on the floor.
Additionally, the Bulls become one of the best teams in the East led by another SoCal native in DeMar DeRozan. This is also the first night of a home-and-home series with the Bulls, the second contest taking place three days later and kicking off the final five game road trip just before the end of the season.
This is one of the Lakers’ last home games of the season and a chance to kick off the tail end of the season on a high note and hopefully begin building momentum for a possible playoff run.