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There are still reasons for Lakers fans to have hope, despite another poor season

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The team is down in the dumps, but you don’t need to be.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Los Angeles Lakers Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

It seems like whenever I’m here it’s because the Lakers lost to Portland again. Last night made it 12 straight for the Trail Blazers over LA. Twelve. I can’t even express how thankful I am that I managed to escape the Northwest before this nonsense began.

Being a Laker fan in Portland was miserable enough when they were winning titles. Yet, as the losses pile up and the tank marches on, I refuse to completely murder my optimism.

Yes. That’s right. I’m here once again to be the idiot Laker homer. A role I’ve convinced myself I’ve played quite well over the years. I’m here to try to pull you out of the sludge created by a 21-52 season and try to convince you that next year there might be slightly less sludge! And I’ll be doing this for the fourth consecutive year! Who’s with me?!

I still believe in D’Angelo Russell

At this point, I feel like I’m the only one left on this train. I suppose there’s a reason for this, but to hell with sensibility. The seemingly endless pessimism hurled at Russell by Lakers fans has puzzled me almost from the beginning – how are fans surprised that a teenage rookie has trouble immediately making an impact in the NBA?

This isn’t to say that some of the criticisms against D’Angelo aren’t valid. Admittedly he’s not yet to the level I would’ve hoped at this point in his career – which still, let’s remember, essentially just started. But there have been (brief) flashes of All-Star potential – the problem is they’re buried by a far greater number of turnovers, bad shots & missed defensive assignments.

I still believe D’Angelo Russell can be an All-Star in this league, and could contribute to the Lakers for years to come. Walton & Co. seem to be trying different things to best utilize Russell’s skillset, whether by bringing him off the bench, switching him to off-guard, etc. – hopefully one of them sticks.

I still believe in Brandon Ingram

The subheading above is more for continuity than to signify lost faith in Ingram. The obvious natural advantages Ingram possesses continue to come into focus as he fine-tunes his game and his body. He’s had a little more trouble with the jumper than most of us anticipated, but that can be fixed in the gym – and Ingram already has shown a desire to spend time improving & evolving.

This goes back to the same thing I’ve whined about ad nauseam to Lakers fans. When you were 19, could you compete with the best in the world at your craft? Unless you invented a social network the answer is likely no. The solution to this one is simply more time.

I still believe in the lure of Los Angeles

Yeah, I’ve heard the narrative – the Lakers have lost their shine, free agents don’t want to play here, etc. I get it, Los Angeles doesn’t have the advantages it once did in the free agent market.

But that’s not really the whole story. Free agents haven’t been flocking to the Lakers because they didn’t like the look of the roster – not because suddenly nobody wants to live in LA. When the surrounding pieces have value and there’s an obvious fit, free agents will come. They always do.

The game and players have changed – teams must now build from the ground up in an effort to attract stars, now more concerned about winning and legacies than being in movies or music videos, to complement young talent they assemble through the draft. When the pieces are similar, and LA’s roster stands up to those of franchises competing for free agents – living on the beach in eternal sunshine won’t be frightening players away.

And finally…

I still believe in the NBA Draft Lottery

Look, the league still owes us a little more after that Chris Paul fiasco. I’ve appreciated the Lakers getting to keep their pick the last two seasons. I would gladly call it even with one final top two pick.

And of course I’m not suggesting the draft lotto is somehow rigged…