Time will tell just how good they will be, but there’s no denying the potential of the Los Angeles Lakers’ core of young players. Four years after their first lottery appearance in nearly a decade, the Lakers are finally seeing growth from their young players and it’s catching the attention from people around the league.
ESPN released their annual “25 Under 25” NBA player rankings on Wednesday and the Lakers were well represented with three players, tied for the most players from one team with the Philadelphia 76ers and the Denver Nuggets.
Here are the full rankings from bottom to top:
T-23. Kyle Kuzma (tied with Andrew Wiggins)
T-17. Lonzo Ball (tied with Steven Adams)
16. Brandon Ingram
Yes, that does mean Tyler Ennis was snubbed again this year, making it the fourth year in a row. But in all seriousness, I was genuinely surprised not see Julius Randle on this list.
Randle has been killing it this season, particularly as a starter. Through 31 starts this season, Julius Randle is averaging 17.9 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists per game. Bobby Marks was the only ESPN NBA Insider to put Randle on his individual ballot and had him ranked at No. 22.
But it’s hard to complain when the Lakers are being recognized for having something of the best young talent in the league, especially when you see some of the names they’re up against.
Ball, Kuzma and Ingram will all be under contract with the Lakers until at least 2020. If they keep progressing the way they have been this season, they could be with each other even longer, along with (they’re hoping) a big name free agent like LeBron James and Paul George.
The Lakers will be without their own first round pick this year, but they’ll have another opportunity to find a gem in the draft with Cleveland’s pick, currently projected to land in the mid-20s.
I honestly wouldn’t be surprised to see whoever they end up taking in these rankings next year.