The Los Angeles Lakers picked up right where they left off in their first scrimmage in Orlando. They may have lost to to the Dallas Mavericks, 108-104, as their stars sat out the second half after building up a first-half lead, but they showed many of the same strengths they had before the season hiatus (Anthony Davis and LeBron James) as well as some of the same weaknesses (a lack of consistent bench play, or playmakers outside of James).
James and Davis showed no signs of rust as they scored 12 points each in their 15 minutes apiece of playing time. James added 5 assists and 3 rebounds, while Davis swiped 2 steals as he offered a reminder of why he’s a Defensive Player of the Year contender. It’s just one meaningless scrimmage, but the stuff that worked for the Lakers looks like it still works, even after a long layoff. There were a couple of nice runs fueled by both their offense and defense, and this team is very much clicking with its stars on the floor.
New Laker Dion Waiters also made an impact in his debut, scoring nine points and sinking the most Dion Waiters first shot he could have possibly taken:
Lakers Nation: Meet Dion Waiters pic.twitter.com/h0lIBzbw8e— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) July 23, 2020
Waiters looks like he should be able to ease James’ ballhandling load a bit in Rajon Rondo’s stead, but bench play may still be a problem overall (even though to be fair, the Lakers were missing Alex Caruso in this one). The purple and gold again looked mostly ineffective in their minutes without James and Davis on the floor after building up an 11-point lead at halftime, outside of almost coming back behind a J.R. Smith/Quinn Cook barrage in the closing minutes after the Mavericks had given up.
Again, this was just a scrimmage that has no meaning in the long run, but finding the right lineup combinations to get the Lakers to play survivable basketball without James on the floor will be one of the biggest questions facing Frank Vogel and his coaching staff at Disney World.
We’ll have more on this game later, but for now, the biggest thing to note is that it was just nice to have basketball back on. For now, that’s the most meaningful takeaway from this one.