In a vacuum, the Lakers’ lackadaisical approach to the preseason is not a shock. A roster loaded with veteran players would almost always use the slate of exhibition games to slowly ramp up to the games that matter in the regular season.
However, this Lakers team is very much not normal, with a roster that has just three holdovers from last season. In need of game reps to build chemistry amongst one another, taking such a slow approach to the preseason was perhaps a bit more unexpected for these Lakers.
But the team has remained persistent in preaching patience, and have paired that with continued optimism that things will work out in the long run. One of the more vocal voices on both topics has been Carmelo Anthony, who talked about the Lakers' level of preparedness for the regular season opener following a winless preseason after practice on Sunday.
“I think we’ll be ready. I think we’ll be ready Tuesday,” Anthony said. “I know we’ll be ready. You can feel it... We’ll be ready Tuesday.
“Me personally, I felt like that throughout the whole preseason. I just know the type of group that we have, the caliber of guys that we have, the mindset of the guys on this team. Like I said, we’ll be ready Tuesday. I don’t think we won’t be ready Tuesday. Now, will it all come together on Tuesday? Probably not. But we’ll be ready to play.”
Part of the optimism for the Lakers could be centered around their softer schedule to open the season. The team will leave Los Angeles just once through their first 15 games, and have just two multi-game road trips through the opening 25 games.
Anthony’s optimism, though, specifically stems from a belief and confidence in the Lakers’ roster. With so many veterans that have had success in the league, Anthony is stubborn in his belief that the team will get their issues ironed out.
“We have too much experience on this team to think anything other than we’ll figure it out,” Anthony said. “It all takes time. It takes time for everybody. Not just us; other teams around the league, teams that have been together, teams that haven’t been together. It’s the beginning of the season. Some teams are going to jump out there and get off a hot start and some teams are not and some teams are going to have those moments to figure it out.
“I think our basketball IQ, our talent, our skill — for the most part — will get us there and then the cohesiveness of us being together, playing together and experience will take us over the top. We understand (where) we want to be and where we’re going to be and we just know that we’re not there at this moment. I say that because we know where we’re going to be at.”
That optimism has been echoed by teammates throughout the preseason and remains a consistent theme for the Lakers. Perhaps the team is taking the strategy of old friend LaVar Ball and speaking it into existence, but the more likely conclusion is that the team genuinely does have enough self-belief based on past experiences to know they can figure things out.
It’s an encouraging sign for fans after a preseason with more bad than good on most nights. But it also further puts pressure on the Lakers to actually get things right heading into the season, regardless of how much confidence they have.