New Orleans’ Cheick Diallo, right, and Los Angeles Lakers’ DAngelo Russell battle for the ball during the second half of an NBA summer league basketball game, Friday, July 8, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Both intrigue and uncertainty await on how long it will take for the Lakers’ young roster to develop. Or how long it will take for Luke Walton to master his position as the Lakers’ new head coach.
At least the Lakers have clarity on who they will play in the 2016-17 season. The Lakers learned a few things when the NBA announced its schedule for the 2016-17 campaign on Thursday, developments that could provide both rich storylines and landmarks during the team’s rebuilding process.
The Lakers will open a season without Kobe Bryant for the first time in 20 years with a home game against the Houston Rockets on Oct. 26 at Staples Center. After making two NBA Finals appearances and winning one NBA Championship the past two years with the Golden State Warriors, Walton will coach against his former team both at home (Nov. 4, Nov. 25) and away (Nov. 23, April 12). When the Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers meet in Philadelphia (Dec. 16) and Los Angeles (March 12), inevitable comparisons will arise between this past year’s draft picks at No. 1 (Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons) and No. 2 (Lakers’ Brandon Ingram).
Even without Bryant or a fielding a playoff contending roster, the Lakers will play the Clippers on Christmas Day at Staples Center. Even if the Lakers have lost by an average of 20.45 points in 11 consecutive losses against their hometown rival, the Lakers-Clippers matchup should produce fireworks in designated games at home (Dec. 25, March 21) and on the road (Jan. 14, April 1).
The Lakers will likely experience other tests during other parts of the 2016-17 season.
The Lakers will experience extensive travel during a seven-game trip in 12 days in Sacramento (Dec. 12), Brooklyn (Dec. 14), Philadelphia (Dec. 16), Cleveland (Dec. 17), Charlotte (Dec. 20), Miami (Dec. 22) and Orlando (Dec. 23). Their annual Grammy trip will span eight days, including stops in Washington (Feb. 2), Boston (Feb. 3), New York (Feb. 6), Detroit (Feb. 8) and Milwaukee (Feb. 10). And the Lakers will also play 16 sets of back-to-back games, a slight decrease from the set of 18 back-to-back contests they played last season. Overall, the NBA reduced the number of back-to-back games to 16.3 per team, a 16 percent reduction from 19.3 per team in 2014-15 and an eight percent reduction from 17.8 per team last season.
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