Lakers Lead

4 Things to Consider Heading Into the Regular Season

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Lakers fans, it’s almost time. It’s been an incredible offseason filled with exciting summer league play and momentous acquisitions. We’ll always remember where we were when we heard that LeBron James agreed to join Los Angeles. As we anticipate the revival of Showtime led by The King and supported by the likes of Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart, this season can’t come any quicker.

However, although we can at last look forward to making the playoffs for the first time in five years, this season won’t be without its hardships.

Team Struggles Early

Any time a team is revamped by as much as the Lakers were during the offseason, the chemistry just won’t be there in the beginning. LeBron James has demonstrated that he’s capable of leading any team into a deep postseason run, but even he can’t automatically turn the team’s fortunes around overnight. During James’ first run with the Miami in 2010-11, the Heat started off with a mediocre 12-8 record. The team needed to adjust to a new sheriff in town with James joining the team, and the team just didn’t figure out each other’s tendencies until later in the season (the Heat finished 58-24, second place in the East). Expect the story to be the same for Los Angeles this season.

The new-look Lakers picked up plenty of experience with veterans like Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson joining the team, but through about 20 games or so, the Lakers will struggle to adjust to an entirely new roster. At season’s end, however, look for the Lakers to be one of the most competitive teams in the West.

Young Core Breaks Out

Kuzma, Ball, Ingram and Hart form a solid foundation, and with James’ leadership, will take their games to the next level this year. We’ve already seen video this offseason of Ball working to improve his shot by adjusting his form. Ball has already proven he can be an excellent facilitator, and if he can become a decent shooter as well, opposing teams will have to pick their poison guarding him.

Kuzma also continues to show an unrelenting winning mentality that won over so many fans during his rookie year. This offseason, he’s worked out with Kobe Bryant, talked with James about his diet and watched tons of film with Rondo.

Ingram has shown nothing but improvement as he spends more time in the league. From his rookie campaign to his sophomore season, his points per game average skyrocketed from 9.4 to 16.1. As he continues to get stronger with another offseason in the books, expect to see even more progression in his game. Meanwhile, Hart was stellar in this year’s summer league and took home MVP honors, showing that he is not to be overlooked when talking about the Lakers’ future stars.

Rotation Still to Be Determined

Luke Walton will have his hands full figuring out how to allocate minutes between the veterans and the young core, particularly when it comes to the forward position. Michael Beasley, James, Stephenson, Kuzma and Ingram are versatile and can play different positions depending on the situation, but the depth that the Lakers have means some players will have to sacrifice. As the Lakers are still a developing team, priority will likely be given to the younger players such the Kuzma and Ingram (with the exception of James, of course). The starting point guard spot still isn’t worked out yet either with Rondo joining Ball at that spot, but only in actual games will we see how each of them performs within particular lineups.

Ultimately, this isn’t a bad problem to have.

LeBron James Has MVP Campaign

LeBron James is arguably the league’s MVP every single season, but lately the award has been narrative-driven and given to the player with the best storyline instead. In 2016, Stephen Curry won unanimously with one of the greatest individual seasons ever, but it helped that he was the leader of the team with the greatest regular season record of all time. The following season, Russell Westbrook became the first player since Oscar Robertson to average a triple double and won the award even though his team weren’t close to being contenders. This season, the storyline is James moving out West to return the Lakers to their glory days. James will try to live up to the standard that other Lakers legends such as Wilt Chamberlain and Shaquille O’Neal accomplished when they helped bring championships to Los Angeles after arriving from another team. If James can transform the Lakers into a serious contender in his first season while putting up his usual sensational numbers, he has a legitimate shot at taking home his fifth MVP of his career.

The West, with teams like the Warriors and the Houston Rockets still in the picture, is ultimately too stacked for the Lakers to own just yet. The Lakers will struggle early with an initial period of growing pains. Therefore, at the end of the season, the team likely won’t finish above fourth place in the West. However, don’t rule them out for good. With James on the team, anything is possible. If the Lakers figure themselves out mid-season and play to their maximum potential, the team is going to be a dark horse to dethrone the Golden State Warriors. Buckle up, Lakers fans. It’s going to be fun.

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