The Lakers’ big three finally graced the hardwood together on Tuesday, and well, let’s just say they looked like they were at the early stage of figuring out how to play together — which was understandable and easily predictable from months ago.
There were a ton of turnovers, missed shots and sloppy execution on both sides of the floor. The trio’s first performance together wasn’t a box office kind of attractive nor was it unpleasant to watch. There were reasons to be excited but It was also frustrating and head-scratching to watch at times, and that’s frankly because the team is going through the unavoidable growing pains that almost every superteam deals with at the genesis of their time together.
This will be the Lakers at their best, forcing a turnover on defense and getting out in transition. This was a great pass from Russ with LeBron running the lane pic.twitter.com/oozdeqiFRg— Mo Dakhil (@MoDakhil_NBA) October 13, 2021
And as early as now, LeBron James and the team already understand that it’s not going to be a smooth sailing ride for them right away. The Lakers’ superstars and veteran role players so far in the preseason have preached patience and the importance of trusting the process until they turn into the best version of themselves.
“It’s all about being patient with the process and understating that we’re going to have frustrating moments,” James said, after Tuesday’s loss to the Stephen Curry and Draymond Green-less Warriors. “It’s going to take a minute for us to become the team that we know we are going to be capable of being. We’re going to have moments where we’re not quite right there. We may take steps backward. But that’s all part of it. I think nothing is worth having if it’s not worth working for.”
So, expect the Lakers to continue focusing on building chemistry and gaining as many reps as they can together in their next slew of games, including Thursday’s last preseason date with the Sacramento Kings. Frank Vogel mentioned that this is going to be the big three’s final dress rehearsal before the real season gets underway on Tuesday. The Kings, who are undefeated so far in the preseason, might just be the perfect tune-up opponent for the Lakers to close the pre-season.
The King are going to bring it
Led by their ninth overall pick Davion Mitchell and their backcourt depth, the Kings have defeated the Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers so far in the preseason. While their unbeaten preseason record means absolutely nothing, it’s still important for the Lakers to note that Mitchell has put on an offensive clinic for the Kings’ in the past few games.
It’s going to be interesting to observe the Lakers’ perimeter defense, especially against the Kings’ strong backcourt. Aside from Mitchell, L.A. will potentially have to also keep their eyes on De’Aaron Fox, Terence Davis, Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield. The Kings’ role players are also competing for playing time so expect a ton of them to go all out like they always do vs. the Lakers.
James also mentioned after Tuesday’s loss that the goal of the preseason is to build stamina and continue to get in game shape. The young and competitive Kings squad, who probably want to keep their undefeated preseason record intact, will for sure test the Lakers’ on-court camaraderie and conditioning.
Ideally the Lakers lessen their turnovers, continue to progress on their offensive and defensive schemes maybe avoid going 0-6 in the preseason if they take Thursday’s meaningless game more seriously.
Notes and Updates
The Lakers’ injury woes continue as Frank Vogel mentioned on Wednesday that Wayne Ellington had an MRI that revealed a Grade 1 groin sprain. Ellington’s status for opening night is now uncertain.
Vogel also mentioned that the team is hopeful Malik Monk and Kendrick Nunn (who both did not play on Tuesday) will be available on opening night.
The Lakers and Kings will go at it at 7 p.m. PT on Thursday night. The game will be televised nationally on NBA TV and locally on Spectrum SportsNet.