Few things are more volatile than the value of a young player in professional sports. By nature, youth is inconsistent. And yet, there are few things as intriguing in professional sports as youth. It gets to the crux of whatever might be going on in any trade talks the Lakers and other teams have regarding the newly available Anthony Davis.
When asked in an interesting column by Dan Woike of the L.A. Times about where the Lakers’ young core currently stands as far as value around the league, one anonymous executive gave his thoughts only a couple days before Davis made his trade demands.
“The aggregate value of their assets was much higher six months ago than it is today,” one Western Conference executive told the Los Angeles Times on the condition of anonymity. “And, for all of them, with the exception of Kyle Kuzma, that value is worse.”
This executive then went on about the long-term prospects for any of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kuzma, Ivica Zubac or Josh Hart:
“Is there an All-Star in there?” one Western Conference executive asked. “Maybe. I just don’t know.”
Anonymous executives seem to enjoy few things more than sitting back and chiming in on players who aren’t in their own employ. That same line (or something similar to it) was used back when D’Angelo Russell was a Laker. Russell is now well on his way to making a great case to be an All-Star this season, in year four of what will likely be a lengthy and promising career.
Based on their treatment of Julius Randle and Russell, it would seem the Lakers’ own scouts and executives were probably too low on them, given the seasons they’ve had thus far.
Weird how guys just seem to look better when they aren’t on the franchise that has dealt so many of these executives and scouts Ls over the years. It should also be noted that it serves these anonymous executives to anonymously crap on the Lakers’ young core, because it might lower the perception of their value and make them more gettable. At the very least, they have little-if-any incentive to say complimentary things.
Now, maybe the Lakers are just not all that great at developing some of these young guys (altogether possible, if not likely), or some of these executives need to give a little more time before spewing off hard-lined takes on what young players might or might not be.
Could Ingram flourish for an organization that is not so hands-off in telling him what to focus on as he develops his games? Maybe! Could Kuzma make a couple minor tweaks to his shot or focus on being more consistent with his release, making him a more predictable shooter? Maybe! Could Lonzo stay healthy long enough to build on the streaks of positive momentum he shows from time to time? Hopefully!
Each one of those scenarios might once again take place after the guys mentioned are playing for a different city. New Orleans is (rightfully) asking for quite the haul in any negotiation with the Lakers. It’s altogether likely we see some different opinions once the young core is playing elsewhere — much as we now do with Randle and Russell.
For now, though, the focus has to be on developing whoever is still around and figuring out how best to get a return on the investment the Lakers have already made on the young core, whether that’s by using them in a trade or to bolster whatever the next iteration of this team is.
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