I have always rejected the "title or bust" narrative that many fanbases carry, and I find that the Lakers fanbase can generally be the worst offender. This isn't to lower expectations of a historically great franchise, the organization operating under this notion is acceptable. What fans lose, however, is the enjoyment of the journey.
My favorite year to watch the Lakers play might have been the 2007-2008 NBA season. Watching the team develop from the Great Breakup of 2004 to where they got in the 2008 season was so damn fun. Fun. Remember that? It's so easy to forget that at the end of the day we're all watching these games to entertain ourselves, and it's easy to have forgotten that after watching this Lakers team "play basketball" for the last two years.
So, heading into this season, let's just have some damn fun. Luke Walton is the head coach! Yes, he will make some mistakes and there will be definite growing pains. Who cares, he's a huge upgrade over his predecessor, let's have fun!
Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram? Who cares, either will be fun!
What if the Lakers strike out in free agency again? Who cares, the core is fun!
Will the Lakers win 30-40 games? Less? More? Who cares, let's have fun!
To me, this is the fan's sweet spot. It's easy to say that a team like the Raptors should be happy making the Conference Finals, and they should be - but there's still a hint of disappointment because that's not a fun ceiling to have. This season for the Lakers is all about growth, all about having fun, all about the young guys learning how to play and be professionals.
That's not to say there are zero expectations for this season. I expect a modern, fun, free-flowing offense to be put in place with Luke Walton and his staff to hold players accountable defensively. I expect to see D'Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, and Julius Randle to show signs of growth next season both physically and mentally. I expect the team to show competitive spirit almost every night, not letting bad plays or losses discourage them too much. I expect the front office to maintain cap flexibility if they can't secure a legitimate star and not just use cap space for the sake of using cap space.
More importantly, I expect the Lakers to earn back some damn respek on their name. The negative narrative surrounding the Lakers rebuilding process over the past few years has been a frustrating double standard to bear. After swinging for the fences in back-to-back summers with the trades for Chris Paul and Dwight Howard/Steve Nash, it was clear that the Lakers would be entering into a traditional rebuild that many other teams are undergoing currently, so why the negativity? Surely the front office hasn't been perfect - but three years into their rebuild Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak have navigated a difficult situation and now have an exciting core roster, an exciting head coach, and a clean cap sheet.
I don't know when the Lakers will be contenders again. I don't know who the next great Lakers superstar will be. I just know I'm going to have some damn fun this season. So why don't we all just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride?
You can follow this author on Twitter at @damar.