The Los Angeles Lakers finished this season with 35 wins, nine more than the season before, but 11 games out of eighth playoff spot, and the hope throughout the fan base has to be that this is the last postseason it must watch as an outsider for a while.
Once the offseason began, I set out to review each player’s season (with the help of Pete Zayas) on Locked on Lakers. We broke each review into three segments: Expectations, Production and a Look Ahead.
We start each review with expectations because it’s important to offer that context before getting into the season, itself. It obviously serves as a tool to make analysis more realistic. But just as importantly, it’s a great way to laugh at some predictions heading into this last season. More on that in a bit.
Each second segment regards each player’s actual season in review, with expectations being kept in mind. This is where we discuss whether a player met, exceeded or fell short of what we hoped for heading into the year.
And finally, the third segment is a discussion on what we’d like to see from a player next year and beyond, and how they fit into what the front office is trying to put together this summer.
Here’s the full list of players reviewed:
It would have been nearly impossible to meet some fans’ expectations given the amount of hype stirred up by LaVar Ball and Magic Johnson. But for those who kept things realistic, Lonzo fared quite well. Yes, his shooting was inconsistent and the injuries were a bummer, but overall, there’s plenty to be excited about if he cleans up some skill technique and figures out that jumper.
Thanks to an up-and-down rookie season, Ingram headed into his sophomore campaign with expected tempered from most fans. Hell, I was hilariously wrong in merely hoping to see an NBA skill be developed. He soared over those expectations with ease, showcasing playmaking abilities that players of his size rarely possess. Honestly, his greatest point of improvement seems to be belief in those abilities.
Randle was quite arguably the Lakers’ most valuable player from the start of the season to the end of it. His abilities on defense are unique, his finishing ability has improved every single year of his career. He tailed off as the season went along and will need to focus on consistent discipline, but there’s plenty of reason to hope he’s back after this summer.
No one could have possibly predicted that the guy selected 27th in last year’s draft would eventually make First-Team All-Rookie, but here we are. I’d content Kuzma ranks among the most polished individual offensive rookies the Lakers have drafted in quite some time. He’ll need to improve by leaps and bounds defensively, but it’s pretty exciting to think of what Kuz might become.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Brook Lopez
The Lakers made two semi-big acquisitions last year in trading D’Angelo Russell for Lopez and signing Caldwell-Pope once he found himself on the outs in Detroit. Both were seen as rentals without much expectations, but it’s pretty fair to say they made it work as best they could. Now, the question remains, how likely is it they stick around.
Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance, Jr.
Neither guy will obviously be Lakers next year, but it still does serve a purpose to discuss what each guy brought to the table both in terms of on-court value and in terms of what trading them brought back to the Lakers. I was joined by Fear The Sword’s Chris Manning to discuss all of that.
Isaiah Thomas and Channing Frye
Thomas’ story is really nothing short of depressing. He went from being downright inspirational a season ago to now wondering whether he’ll fetch much more than a one-year deal this summer. Still, for the most part, he lived up to what most hoped for after the trade. Does that warrant bringing him back? (No, please no)
It’s hard to expect much from guys like Ivica Zubac, Alex Caruso, Tyler Ennis, etc., but somehow, Ennis still found a way to disappoint. Also, how likely is it Zubac beats Thomas Bryant out for minutes next season and what might it mean if he doesn’t?