So many interesting storylines and question marks surround the Lakers for the 2016-17 season. Sure, the Lakers (1-0) enter Friday’s game against the Utah Jazz (0-1) at Vivnt Smart Home Arena only two days removed from a commanding win over Houston in the season opener. But as Lakers forward Julius Randle said, “it’s just one game; it’s not the dang Super Bowl.”
So as the Lakers’ journey begins, a few NBA experts chimed in about what makes them both encouraged and uncertain about the Lakers’ future.
What can the Lakers accomplish this season??
Reggie Miller, TNT analyst: “It’s building toward the future. Obviously it was the Kobe Bryant farewell show a season ago. I think a lot of times D’Angelo [Russell], Julius and Jordan [Clarkson] got caught up being spectators. It’s a fresh start. Luke Walton is coming in with a totally new system … “The Lakers need to win. If this young core can continue to get better, that will help with recruiting the free agents of the future to come to LA to try to bring this franchise back to prominence … They’ll take their lumps. I don’t see them anywhere near the Western Confernece playoffs. Btu they’ll be much better at home than they are on the road. That’s how most young teams are.”
Grant Hill, NBA TV/TNT analyst: “The playoffs, I don’t see that as a possibility. Crazy things have and will happen. But I like that young core …You hope they are better and playing with more confidence the last third of the season. It doesn’t necessarily translate into wins. But it’s more about these guys developing and becoming better players and using this year as a chance to get better.”
Kevin McHale, TNT analyst: “Luke’s biggest challenge is going to be on the defensive end with those guys. I watched the exhibition games. They’re not tied together. But they’re young kids. They don’t understand how to shrink the paint and how to get out and cover for each other … Luke will have some gray hair at the end of this year. I can’t wait to run into Luke and talk to him. He’ll do a great job with that team.”
Anonymous NBA executive:“They’re not going to win a lot of games. They have to be self aware enough that no matter what lineups you put on the floor, they’re not a playoff team. They’re good for 25 to 30 wins … Luke will play a style they’ll enjoy and he’ll relate to the other players well. Luke has the luxury of not having to manage the whole Kobe situation and he can play who he wants to play. It’s a great situation for Luke. No one is expecting much from the Lakers this season so he can get on-the-job training.”
Anonymous NBA assistant coach:“They’re going to be a better team obviously than last year. But like anything in the NBA, it takes good teams time to gel. I think it’s like cooking a dinner. If you could bake it in 15 minutes or 10 minutes, it won’t be that good of a dinner. That’s why the best meals are on Christmas and Thanksgiving. It takes lots of preparation.”