To put it lightly, this past week was a rough one for Los Angeles Lakers fans. Missing out on top free agents was bad enough, but the embarrassing reports about the meetings with Lamarcus Aldridge put a significant dent in the team’s mystique. Most analysts assume this current Laker roster won’t compete for a playoff spot in the tough Western Conference, which is probably true, but I’m here to tell Laker fans to cheer up, because this upcoming season will still be a memorable one for three big reasons. To put it lightly, this past week was a rough one for Los Angeles Lakers fans. Missing out on top free agents was bad enough, but the embarrassing reports about the meetings with Lamarcus Aldridge put a significant dent in the team’s mystique. Most analysts assume this current Laker roster won’t compete for a playoff spot in the tough Western Conference, which is probably true, but I’m here to tell Laker fans to cheer up, because this upcoming season will still be a memorable one for three big reasons.
The development of Russell, Randle, Clarkson
What the Lakers do have right now is quality young talent. The team took promising point guard D’Angelo Russell with the second pick in the NBA draft a few weeks ago, and many basketball minds think he could be the best player to come out of the draft. Louisville basketball head coach Rick Pitino said of Russell’s passing ability, “In the last 30 some-odd years, outside of Magic Johnson he’s the best passer I’ve seen come along.” Thats…um…high praise to say the least folks. Along with Russell, the Lakers will be getting back their lottery pick pick from last year’s draft, Julius Randle. Randle broke his leg during the first game of this past season, but he’s completely healthy now, and coaches and players that have watched him practice think he’s going to be something special. With the ability to stretch the floor with his shot-making ability to go along with his skills as a ball-handler and passer, we could be seeing the next Lamar Odom type in purple and gold. This past year, second round steal Jordan Clarkson showed what kind of talent he had, taking over a as the point guard late in the season and earning a spot on the All-Rookie team. Clarkson’s ability as a slasher on the floor to go along with his skills as a finisher around the rim should work very well with Russell’s style of play and ability as a passer. Watching the development of these young guys should keep Laker fans glued to their televisions next season.
Kobe Bryant’s last hurrah
More than likely, this upcoming season will be Bryant’s last and when he leaves the game, he’ll do so knowing he changed it forever. Few players have ever combined the aww-inspiring athleticism Kobe had with the drive and determination Kobe had to be the best player on the planet. He brought the Lakers 5 championships in his incredible career, and his accomplishments as a player will be remembered forever. Kobe’s killer instinct and clutch gene are legendary, and that’s part of what made him the most feared player in basketball during his prime. Now at 37, the mamba has been slowed by father time, but Laker fans have stood by him during this difficult portion of his career, and Laker Nation will be able to appreciate and support him like never before during his final season, as they should because their will NEVER be another Kobe Bryant.
The 2016 off-season
Why should Laker fans look forward to the off-season? Well, because the team will have enough cap space to sign multiple max-level contracts, and there is one player in particular who will be available. You may have heard of him, he goes by the name Kevin Durant. Yes, the former MVP will be a free agent, and many believe he will take his talents and leave Oklahoma City. His hometown Wizards, along with the Heat and other big market teams should be in play for him, but the Lakers franchise is on the come-up, and if D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle show the league that they’re the real deal, than I’m sure the prospect of playing with two young studs in sunny L.A. would sound pretty intriguing to Mr. Durant. Some may say that the Lakers don’t have the same appeal that they once did on players, but the fact that the team was considered co-favorites with the Spurs for Aldridge before free agency began, and the fact that Demarcus Cousins has told his people that he wants to play for the Lakers makes me believe that the Lake Show can still bring in the stars like it always has. Kevin Durant in purple and gold….now that’s something I could get used to