The Los Angeles Lakers have played three games and I am already 100 times more excited about them than I thought I’d be. Even though they still have a lot to prove; I trust the young core on this team surrounding the king.
They had a rough start Monday night. LeBron couldn’t buy a bucket, starting 0-6 from the field. At the end of the first quarter they were down 40-26, and previously trailed by as much as 17. The only player who appeared to be in rhythm was Lonzo Ball, who started in place of suspended Rajon Rondo.
Lonzo continued his groove into the second quarter and was part of a big Lakers run. However, the real show was Kyle Kuzma. While LeBron still remained relatively quiet in the second; Kuzma was on the attack. He totaled 13 second quarter points and was making it happen both in the paint, and behind the arc. The Lakers trailed 65-60 at the half. Needless to say, Kuzma didn’t stop the aggressiveness on offense.
The San Antonio defense had no answers. Kuzma plays like a 6’9 point guard in transition; an aspect of his game that clearly developed over the offseason. He attacks the basket with such aggression but has the touch of the leagues best finishers.
He finished with 37 points! This was a statement game from Kuzma; and the coaching staff needs to reflect upon that. Kyle Kuzma is simply too talented of a player to come off the bench for the Lakers.
Kuzma wasn’t the only player to step up in the box score. Josh Hart played 39 minutes off the bench, dropping 20 points to go along with 10 rebounds. His shooting ability and defensive guard play proved to be much more productive than that of starting SG, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. I point this out because Josh Hart is extremely underrated. He is another young Laker slowly proving he deserves be a starter.
The Lakers never once let this game get out of hand, something they let happen quite often last season. They were trailing the Spurs the majority of the game, yet they kept it close, and were within striking distance late in the 4th. Still at an eight point deficit with just over a minute remaining, the Lakers sparked a run. Three stops and three buckets is what they needed and they delivered. Perfect execution in late game scenarios is what Luke Walton hopes to see in the spring; so signs of this maturity now must be reassuring. San Antonio would prove be too much in the end, as the Lakers would fall in OT 143-142. However, the positive takeaways from this game outweigh the box score. Don’t fret over the 0-3 record. This team looks strong offensively, and the players are still figuring out their minutes and roles. The wins will come soon enough.
The biggest take away from this game was simply who played well. Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Lonzo Ball, and JaVale McGee all gave Luke Walton great production. These four players performing well should leave Lakers fans elated. Along with Brandon Ingram, these are the players I see developing around LeBron the best. They are the most dynamic playmakers, and the most exciting players to watch. No discredit to Rondo, Pope, Stephenson, and others; but James, Ball, Kuzma, Ingram, McGee, and Hart are the next generation of showtime Lakers.