In a summer in which they managed to sign LeBron James, it’s been a little shocking to see how much criticism the Los Angeles Lakers have taken for their offseason moves (eh, actually, most of the NBA hates the Lakers, so not that shocking).
That said, some of the team’s free agency moves were confusing on their face, even if accounting for the fact that everyone they signed is only on one-year deals. Still, the pendulum of analysis may have swung too far towards criticism rather than skepticism on the Lakers’ roster building strategy.
Kyle Kuzma certainly seems to think so, and after working out with James last week, Kuzma told Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN that both he and James are optimistic that this Lakers team can surprise some people and prove their critics wrong:
“We are both definitely excited about the roster and the pieces that we have,” Kuzma told ESPN on Tuesday after visiting with 20 kids from the Safe Places program at his hometown Flint YMCA as part of the “My Y Story” content series. “And we think that a lot of people are underestimating us. It is definitely going to be fun playing with all these new guys.”
”A lot of people say we got a lot of different people, a lot of new people,” added Kuzma, who also is holding a three-day camp for kids in his hometown. “But change can be a good thing. It is not necessarily always a bad thing. There’s a lot of teams in the NBA that need to work on their chemistry, we are just one of them.
Kuzma is right about the Lakers not being the only team that will have to work on their chemistry this year, but the only problem is that the team they’re going to primarily be trying to beat if they want to add to James’ trophy cabinet — the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors — has no such chemistry issues.
The Warriors are a fully operational doomsday weapon, not just a death lineup but an NBA Death Star since they added Kevin Durant two summers ago. Even with the addition of DeMarcus Cousins, it’s hard to see anything upsetting the Warriors perfectly maintained cohesion.
And that might be a problem necessitating some patience from the Lakers, even if it’s understandable Kuzma and James think they can win right now. They’re professional athletes, that’s what they’re supposed to think. It doesn’t necessarily make it true, but it does mean the Lakers won’t lack for motivation this year, and if they get a few lucky breaks, maybe that can push them past their critics’ expectations.
If not, at least it will help the team instill a winning culture as they move forward.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.