To call the Los Angeles Lakers’ preseason opener highly-anticipated would be akin to calling tickets for Kobe Bryant’s jersey retirement a little pricey. It’s an absolute overload for fans who can’t wait to see Lonzo Ball take his first big step as a Laker as the franchise embraces something that very-much feels like the start of a new era.
The Lakers themselves are bubbling with excitement as well after what looked like a laser-focused training camp. They’ll get to put everything to the test for the first time against the Minnesota Timberwolves, a team that will be fascinating to observe.
The Timberwolves are hoping this is the dawn of a new era of their own, adding Jimmy Butler as their new established franchise star. In a roundabout way, Butler being shipped to the Timberwolves has made the Lakers’ path to the Western Conference playoffs significantly more complicated.
Minnesota hasn’t seen the playoffs since 2004, but with head coach Tom Thibodeau reuniting with both Butler and Taj Gibson, it might be the season that finally changes for the Timberwolves. Add Minnesota to the list of teams the Lakers have to leap frog over. Enough about them, though.
Lakers head coach Luke Walton has been adamant all training camp that the key to everything they want to accomplish begins on the defensive end. Expect to see a fairly basic half-court offense when things slow down for the Lakers, but also expect the team to try and push the tempo as often as possible to avoid that.
Don’t expect to see a lot of adjustments in-game. Walton was clear that it’s more important for the team to rinse-and-repeat the coverages and tactics they’ve been working on. Preseason is about process for the Lakers, and Coach Luke wants to see how well his team can implement the key principles they’ve been working on through camp.
Josh Hart, Andrew Bogut and Brook Lopez are all out for this one, so expect some extra opportunities for the deeper portion of the bench. Walton mentioned he’d be looking to get more players on the court, along with some lineup experiments, so that’s another area to keep an eye on. There are some interesting groups that Walton can tinker with.
All this aside... yeah. It’s exciting. It’s a preseason game, but it’s the first time we get to see the new team really playing together. Even with Lopez — their starting center and huge piece of the offense — out, there’s no less anticipation and excitement to see the team perform.
Enjoy the game!
Time: 7 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet, NBA TV