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Lakers vs. Warriors Preview: New look

Following the NBA trade deadline. the Los Angeles Lakers will finally be debuting their newly acquired players on Saturday in a game against the Golden State Warriors.

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Los Angeles Lakers Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

For a team that’s currently the 13th seed in the Western Conference and losers of their last 3 games, there’s plenty of excitement to be had surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers. That’s because now, after the NBA trade deadline, there is reason to believe the 25-31 team can now go on a run to end the season, with that run hopefully starting in Saturday’s game vs. the Golden State Warriors. when D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt, Malik Beasley, and maybe even Davon Reed are set to make their debuts.

Let’s preview the matchup.

New-look Lakers

That brewing excitement is due to the Lakers roster that Rob Pelinka overhauled this week at the 2023 NBA trade deadline. The Lakers shipped out Russell Westbrook, Patrick Beverley, Thomas Bryant, Damian Jones, Juan Toscano-Anderson, and draft compensation. In return, they brought in Russell, Vanderbilt, Beasley, Reed, Mo Bamba and some second round draft compensation.

Unfortunately, all of the players listed above were not able to play with the Lakers in their first game following the trade deadline. That was Thursday’s 115-106 loss vs. the Bucks, in a game during which the Lakers were also missing LeBron James.

But don’t fret. Reinforcements are here. And if everything goes right, they’ll not only be here to help the Lakers go on a run to end the season, but also to keep building in the summer for another run in the 2023-24 season.

Of course, the Lakers franchise isn’t about wins later. They’re about wins now. And although these trades for younger and (theoretically) better players bring plenty of promise for the future, they also bring plenty of promise for the present.

Russell will be coming in to replace Russell… Westbrook that is. And although D’Lo doesn’t have a former MVP award or multiple All-NBA selections to his name, he certainly is a far better shooter than Westbrook. That poor shooting from Russ plagued the Lakers more often than not in his near-two seasons with the team, and although D’Lo brings his own warts that honestly compare favorably to Westbrook’s other pitfalls at times, his shooting is nothing to worry about given his current 39.1% and career 36.0% 3-point percentages.

When the trade was made official, Rob Pelinka noted in the press release that the Lakers had added “switchable wing defending, perimeter shooting and rebounding depth.” D’Lo is really only bringing the perimeter shooting, with the 6’9 (7’1 wingspan) Vanderbilt bringing the rebounding and switchability, while the team gets a bit of a flame-thrower in Beasley.

With Stephen Curry out, the new-look Lakers will hopefully be able to get off to a fast start. As evidenced above, there is now no room for error for a team that will now have half of its rotation completely unfamiliar with the rest of the team. There’s going to be some understandable clunkiness going on between them, but hopefully the new guys also bring a breath of fresh air to a locker room that sounded like it was in desperate need of a change of pace.

If that freshness overrides the unfamiliarity between teammates, then maybe we’ll look back and remember Saturday night as the start of a reborn Lakers team.

Notes and Updates

The Lakers and Warriors will tip off at 5:30 p.m. PT. The game will be exclusively shown on ABC.

You can follow Donny on Twitter at @donny_mchenry.

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