The NBA season will be underway in less than a month with the start of Training Camp starting at the end of September. The Los Angeles Lakers will enter a new era after the retirement of Kobe Bryant and will look embrace the development of their young core. There are many questions that will surround the Lakers all season but with the start of camp, let’s dive into what the Lakers must make clear before their season opener.
Will D’Angelo Russell Be Set Free?
During his rookie year, Russell was on a very short leash with then HC, Bryon Scott. Scott played his PG in 80 games but the No. 2 pick in the 2015 draft only started 48 games for a team that was in desperate need for a PG. Scott, possibly being a little hard on the then 19-year-old rookie may have caused a little confidence issue with his team. Russell averaged 13 points on 12 attempts but the bigger issues were the three assists per. In Summer League the Lakers got a glimpse of the Russell they hope will be one leading the team in 2016. Russell averaged 20 points in the SL and looked comfortable running the offense. If new HC, Luke Walton is willing to do what Scott wouldn’t expect Russell to have a great season.
First Man Off The Bench?
Past seasons this was an easy choice. Lou Williams is a past Sixth Man of the Year winner and he has provided that spark for the Lakers but with the drafting of No. 2 pick Brandon Ingram, that may no longer be the case. If Russell is given the green light that means he will log more than his 2015 average of 28 minutes per. An increase of minutes will cut into Williams time leaving room for the young SF, Ingram to be used in the 6th Man role. Williams can play either guard position, but with Jordan Clarkson set to be the main offensive option with Kobe gone, that also cuts into Williams time. Ingram will sub in for the older Deng and maybe Randle at PF, offering him minutes. Walton has a difficult decision on his hands. I say go with Ingram.
Who Will Be The Go-To Guy?
Every team needs one. Most teams like to say it’s a team effort but you need that one person when the game gets tight and you need that big shot or defensive stop you can look to them and trust they will get it done. Who will be that player for the Lakers this season? It’s easy to point the finger at the veteran, Luol Deng, but he’s never been that guy before. Russell is still young and will make mistakes, the same can be said for the entire roster. By default, that role will be forced on Deng. A 12-year veteran in the NBA, he is now the unofficial leader of the team and must make his presence felt. He can score from anywhere on the court and must provide verbal leadership to three players under the age of 25 in the starting unit with him.