The season opener has finally arrived for the Los Angeles Lakers, embarking on the Lonzo Ball era with the wind behind their back. The purple and gold are ready to tear into the season after a summer of focused development, getting to fully stretch their legs after a clunky preseason.
Ball is ready to go after sitting out most of exhibition with an ankle injury, giving fans their first full look at what it means to have a new No. 2 pick point guard running the show. He’ll get to cut his teeth against Patrick Beverley and Milos Teodosic, which should be a tough welcome to the league.
Julius Randle should be on the floor for the opener, going through a full practice with the team after being limited to start the week. That leaves just Josh Hart as the odd man out with an injury that could keep him on the sidelines early in the schedule.
Head coach Luke Walton is potentially circling in on starting Brook Lopez, Larry Nance Jr., Brandon Ingram, Luol Deng and Ball, based on Lakers sideline reporter Mike Trudell’s latest update:
The forward rotation is probably the most interesting area to watch evolve from a group standpoint. Nance, Randle, Deng, Ingram, Corey Brewer and Kyle Kuzma are all slated to earn minutes at at least one of the forward positions, and Brandon could even moonlight as a shooting guard in pinches. Watching Walton’s decisions over the first few weeks should make for an interesting experience.
The start of the season, with a back-to-back on the table and two-game suspension for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to deal with, makes Hart’s injury slightly more problematic. Jordan Clarkson should get a pretty good opportunity to establish his place in the guard rotation because of the lack of depth aside from him at the two-guard.
Opening the season with a “hallway rivalry” game featuring two teams that look very different than they did last season — imagine if it was Chris Paul welcoming Lonzo to being a lead point guard in Los Angeles — should make for an exciting night for fans of both teams.
All that matters in the end though is hearing that sweet, sweet music after the final buzzer sounds. Enjoy the game, the wait is over.
Time: 7:30 p.m. PT