The Roar
The Roar

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Get ready for the return of Showtime, because the Lakers are back

A new breed of Laker is ready to take the NBA by storm (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Expert
7th November, 2016
5

Showtime is back in Los Angeles. I know it’s a big statement, and while it may seem to many to be a little premature there’s little doubt that the Lakers are on their way back towards the kind of success they’re accustomed to.

Before you go writing this column off as an overreaction to the team’s recent victory over Golden State, let me explain why the Lakers are back on the radar.

To quote a line from the 90s seminal ska-punk band Sublime, “you can’t fight against the youth, ’cause we’re strong,” and for the Lakers their youth is their strength. The brand of basketball they are playing right now relies heavily upon on a nucleus of young, soon-to-be superstars.

In the aftermath of two horrible seasons, the Lakers have drafted extremely well. Acquiring Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell, Larry Nance Junior and Brandon Ingram in the last three years has given renewed hope to Laker fans and for good reason.

This core group of young men certainly seem to complement each other quite well on the court, each bringing a specific skill set that will bring this team out of the wastelands of the past two years and into a new dawn of Laker basketball.

Brandon Ingram for the LA Lakers.

Randle is the brawn of the bunch, a 206cm, 113kg power forward who averaged a double-double last season, he looks set to regularly ‘clean the glass’ in the purple and gold and will be a force to be reckoned with in the paint for many years to come.

In stark contrast to Randle you have the long, lean Brandon Ingram. This year’s No.2 pick in the NBA draft, Ingram was drafted by Los Angeles as he looks to be a significant mismatch at the small forward position. His long wingspan and ability to create his own shot will undoubtedly serve the team well this season and beyond.

Running the show will fall to second-year point guard D’Angelo Russell, another of the Lakers’ quality first round draft picks in recent years. Russell, along with Jordan Clarkson, whose development has been remarkable so far, gives the team a strong presence in the guard rotation.

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While the team’s future strengths will undoubtedly lie with the youthful presence of these men there’s much more to this than raw talent. There’s a definite spark on team offense that hasn’t been seen in years and despite the fact that we’re but a few games into a long 82-game season, some of the stats read very well for the team from Tinseltown.

At the time of writing, the team is averaging 108.8 points per game, good enough for sixth in the league, they are shooting 46 per cent from the field, eighth in the league, and they’re second only to the San Antonio Spurs in free throw percentage. The Lakers also rank fifth in offensive rebounds, giving them ample opportunity for second chance points.

This kind of offensive firepower is exactly what the Laker franchise needs right now. After all, much of the fan base has grown up on a staple diet of amazing point-scoring feats. From the early days of Kareem’s unstoppable skyhook to the Showtime razzle dazzle of the 1980s and the more recent point-scoring phenomenon that was Kobe Bryant, LA thrives on buckets. Right now they’re getting exactly what they want.

Sure, there’s some work to be done before this team can regularly overcome the super powers of the league. Defence for one is still an issue but one gets the feeling that the hustle that’s needed to compete on both ends of the floor will come in due time and the savvy of veterans like Luol Deng, Lou Williams and Timofey Mozgov will go a fair way towards tightening up things on the defensive end.

The Lakers know how to win, history shows this and with the current rebuild that has occurred during the last few years almost complete, it wont be long until we see this much-vaunted powerhouse of NBA basketball climb back to the pinnacle of the game. It won’t be this year but watching this team elevate to the heights of old over the next few seasons will be a sight to behold for many fans of the game.

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