The Los Angeles Lakers finished the 2016-17 season with the third-worst record at 26-56, but there are reasons for optimism this year. Not only are Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma in the fold for the foreseeable future, Brandon Ingram and Jordan Clarkson have taken significant leaps, as well.
A popular thought was that the Lakers would look to high-priced free agents, but Ingram is still just 20 years old while Clarkson is 25. At 25, Clarkson is one of the elder statesmen on the team.
Julius Randle, moved to a bench role, is 22 years old, too. Although the Lakers have struggled in recent years, they have restocked the cupboard. These youngsters have paced the team to a 5-5 start. Among their games, the Lakers have notched impressive wins over the Memphis Grizzlies, Washington Wizards, and Detroit Pistons. All three will likely compete in the postseason.
Although LaVar Ball has stolen a lot of headlines in regards to the franchise, the Lakers have something brewing in Los Angeles.
Clarkson and Kuzma were not high picks, either. Kuzma was selected at No. 27, while Clarkson was a second-round draft pick at No. 46 overall. “Everyone said I would be a second-round pick or undrafted guy, that’s all I heard coming to the draft, but I had a higher faith,” Kuzma told The Vertical. “I knew I was way better than that, better than how people pegged me. After I killed draft workouts and the combine, I knew I would go in the first round. I had a good hint that it would be L.A.”
Luke Walton deserves credit for developing Los Angeles’ youth. While the rest of the season can unfold in a multitude of ways, the Lakers have become exciting again. Under Magic Johnson’s watchful eye, Showtime might return to Staples Center.
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