It’s a young season for a young Los Angeles Lakers team but the 4-3 squad has caught the attention of observers. Monday brought on a slew of new articles and power rankings and the Lakers are surging through a three-game winning streak.
CBS Sports’ Matt Moore ranked the Lakers 12th in the NBA, raising them a whopping 16 places from last week. Moore was complimentary of Julius Randle’s game and the turnaround under Luke Walton.
Randle sealed the Lakers’ win over the Phoenix Suns with arguably the most memorable possession of his career. He hypnotized Tyson Chandler, Devin Booker and everybody watching into thinking he was driving into the big man but fired a heater to Jordan Clarkson:
Para Luke Walton, esta decisión de @J30_RANDLE fue "una jugada ganadora" (@AGMLA y @PintoLakers en @Spectdeportes). pic.twitter.com/ipXLhZPAVU— Los Lakers (@LosLakers) November 7, 2016
Game. Note the Luke Walton fist pump. Randle made another big play to help put this one on ice before this, though, setting a crushing screen to create a silly amount of space for D’Angelo Russell to pull up for a three-pointer:
Julius’ screen setting is definitely an area of development as we don’t see nearly enough of that pillar he dropped above.
The huge improvement over last season through the seven games we’ve seen thus far is evident in the details, and the numbers support it. The Lakers are scoring 6.2 more points per 100 possessions while holding opponents to 6.3 points per 100 possessions less, according to NBA.com. That’s a 12.4 PPP swing:
For now it’s safe to say the Lakers look much better, still have seemingly infinite room for improvement, and are playing hard every night. It’s a tiny fragment of a very long season with a team still early in its process.
The Lakers moved up to No. 15 in ESPN’s Marc Stein’s power rankings, previously sitting at 27. Stein was particularly impressed with their comeback victory over the Atlanta Hawks on the road.
The upcoming schedule includes some very winnable games, even without Larry Nance, Jr. on Tuesday. Dirk Nowitzki is out for the Mavericks and they’ve gone just 1-5 to start the season. The Lakers definitely have the tools to cover Harrison Barnes, whether that’s with Luol Deng, Brandon Ingram, Nick Young or even Julius Randle, so it should be a good proving opportunity.
The group is far from completing their puzzle but are already showing very promising signs of being ahead of the curve in becoming competitive. We’ll see how they look after Dallas, a three-game road trip with stops in Sacramento, New Orleans and Minnesota, and a return home against Brooklyn.