The Los Angeles Lakers have paid the price for an exciting young core, having amassed more losses over the last four years than was previously perceived possible from a franchise as successful as they’ve been historically.
One would hope that from that misery, the Lakers would have one bonafide superstar, but instead, in many’s eyes, they have a solid young core of question marks.
Brandon Ingram, whom the Lakers are reportedly highest on, is coming off a very up-and-down (mostly down) rookie campaign.
D’Angelo Russell butted heads with Byron Scott throughout his rookie season and the Lakers might not know where he fits best positionally on an NBA court.
Julius Randle has impressed many with his insane body transformation this summer, but some might wonder what took him so long and if this is a byproduct of his impending restricted free agency as much as it is about him trying to meet Magic Johnson’s conditioning demands.
In his latest for Bleacher Report, Kevin Ding voices some of the concerns about Russell and Randle. Here’s how he puts it.
“There is still a lot to like about both Russell and Randle as well, but there are also ongoing questions about how well they take criticism, according to team sources. Lakers head coach Luke Walton entered the season asking Russell to be less of a know-it-all and more of a leader for the group, while he hoped Randle would emulate Draymond Green in using every perceived slight as motivation. Though both players improved their games, neither advanced as far as Walton had hoped. Russell was inconsistent with his professionalism, and Randle often lost messages given to him if they were delivered harshly.”
Those are specific, detailed concerns that should not be overlooked.
Both those players have obviously shown flashes that should excite fans who’ve watched them closely, but if those fans had to bet their house on whether either of them make an all-star game in their career, there’s no way they’d feel comfortable either way as of right now.
This season, the already intense magnifying glass will be all the more imposing, as either Paul George will be playing in L.A. and demand more of what they’ve shown, or the organization will be leaning on their development to showcase to George (and potentially LeBron James) in free agency a year from now.
It’s in the Lakers’ best interest, and that of this young core if they want to stick around, that these questions get answered, one way or another.