After what should have been a nice, comfortable game, I resumed breathing and eventually got around to, well you know, my job. To discuss the heart-attack inducing events of Wednesday night’s Lakers game, I welcomed Kirk Henderson of Mavs Moneyball.
We start with a cross-position comparison between prospects of the Lakers and Mavericks. Luka Doncic and Lonzo Ball approach the game in a lot of the same ways, and look to impact it by doing stuff that doesn’t always show up in the box score. Unfortunately for both, you really have to be looking for their impact if you’re going to see it in its entirety.
Compare that to someone like Dennis Smith, Jr.’s approach to basketball and, well, it was pretty clear Wednesday which second-year point guard a franchise interested in winning would rather have. It’s still early, though.
It wouldn’t be a full conversation about the Mavericks if we didn’t at some point touch on Harrison Barnes. Before people take me out of context here, the point I make in the show is that Barnes feels like a worst-case scenario for Kyle Kuzma. I don’t think Kuzma is heading in that direction, but if things go south, Barnes is what that would look like.
Finally, we get around to the way Wednesday night played out.
Look, fourth quarter struggles are about as new to this Lakers season as irritable people are to my Twitter mentions. Fortunately, they figured out a way to win despite a lot of the same mistakes. But the foundation of a lot of these issues feels like a identity problem.
LeBron James is a Laker. Before he showed up, all analysis pretty much started and ended with the young core. Now, both are trying to figure it out together. James will sit back and see how Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma handle clutch situations. At the same time, though, they’ll look at him and you can almost see the thought bubble of “are you sure you want us to handle this?” forming above their heads.
It’s going to take time for those involved to figure out that balance, but they need to as soon as they possibly can. Otherwise, all that stress that we had to live through Wednesday night will be a regular occurrence — and no one wants that.
As always, this is just a tidbit of the full context given in the show. Listen to the full discussion below and please check out old episodes, or guarantee you won’t miss any ever again by subscribing to either “The Silver Screen and Roll Podcast” or “Locked on Lakers” on iTunes.