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Podcast: Lakers relying on their youth to work with LeBron James is a gamble of conservatism

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Are Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and the other young Lakers up for the task of competing alongside LeBron James?

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Los Angeles Lakers v New York Knicks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Most teams would dive directly into compete short-term mode as soon as they got any kind of commitment from LeBron James, but the Los Angeles Lakers have remained patient. Yes, there are quibbles to be made about some signings specifically, but in their general stance hinges on one key factor this season: Their young core’s development.

To discuss how that youth might fit around LeBron, I welcomed Sam Vecenie (The Athletic, “Game Theory”) onto today’s Locked on Lakers.

We start by discussing this strategy in general not just with the Lakers, but across the league’s smarter organizations. Sam offers up a theory on where that might’ve started and how it took hold in the NBA, and we build on that to talk about what that might mean for the league moving forward.

For the Lakers specifically, it might sound crazy to potentially punt on a season in LeBron’s prime, but if they really do want to compete with the Golden State Warriors either in the short- or long-term, they need to find value wherever they possibly can. And there are few more potentially valuable assets than young players who outplay their cheap contracts.

We then discuss which guys are capable of doing so.

Can Brandon Ingram reach his potential playing alongside James? The fit isn’t as natural as most would be, but as LeBron moves into the next phase of his career, it actually does make sense to have other creators on the court. Sam believes Ingram can be one such creator.

We move from Ingram to Lonzo Ball, who again isn’t the traditional fit on a LeBron James team, but offers so much in so many facets of the game that the fit does make a lot of sense.

From there, we move to Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and the rest of the Lakers’ youth. This was a very fun conversation.

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 on iTunes.