The Lakers start training camp in roughly two weeks, what is the one thing you look forward to seeing the most as the season draws near?
Allen: Two things I’m looking are obviously Lonzo Ball but also the evolution of Brandon Ingram. Ball looked great in Summer League but with all of the pressure on him, I’m looking to see how he performs with the bright lights on him. In regards to Ingram, while he had a decent rookie year, he still seemed to lack confidence and was very timid at times. In year two, I’m curious to see if he’s more aggressive and more on the attack.
Boyer: If Lonzo Ball’s pass-first play style can become infectious. Los Angeles was fifth worst league-wide in assists per game last season, so I want to monitor if they can crack the league average (22.5) or maybe even above. Ball movement will be a major emphasis for the Lakers with Zo at the helm and hopefully, it’s something that begins in training camp/preseason and continues once things really get underway in mid-October.
Cortes: Brandon Ingram’s 2nd campaign is what I’m looking forward to the most. With news reporting that Ingram has grown to 6’11 and changed his shooting stroke, signs are pointing to the former Duke BlueDevil having a great 2nd season. We saw some glimpses of what Ingram worked on during his lone appearance in the most recent Summer League, and I’m looking forward to seeing that in the upcoming season.
Lavar Ball says the Lakers will win 50 games this season. How many victories do you actually expect out of LA?
Allen: Realistically, I’m expecting a 35-win season for the Lakers. While I do believe they have gotten better, I still believe they have flaws. They’ve lacked consistent defense for years and I believe that still needs to be answered. Los Angeles was ranked last in defense last season. Also, they struggled shooting behind the arc. Ranked 19th in 3-pointers made and 21st in 3-point percentage, to be successful in this league, you have to able to knock down the outside ball.
Boyer: I anticipate the Lakers scraping together about 30 wins. They’re a young team that will have major shortcomings on the defensive end, and as DJ eluded to, questions about their ability to shoot from distance remain.
Cortes: If LaVar says they’re getting 50 wins…. just kidding. Realistically, I expect the Lakers to win anywhere from 33 to 37 wins this season. If I had to put an exact amount of wins, I’d say 35 wins as well. The addition of Brook Lopez and KCP along with a promising core is certainly better than last season’s team, who won 26 games while tanking after the All-Star break.
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) June 23, 2017
According to Lakers reporter Mike Trudell, Brandon Ingram is now 6’11 and has altered his shooting mechanics. What type of season do you think he’s primed for?
Allen: I’m definitely expecting an improvement from last season. As I mentioned earlier, the aggression of Ingram this season is under the microscope for me. The fact that he’s still growing is astonishing but that’s definitely something that he can capitalize on to expand his game. Changing shooting mechanics is something that scares me at this stage of the game, however, I’m sure it’s just minor tweaks that the coaches are looking at to improve his efficiency. But with that being said, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 15 point and 5 rebound average from the second year forward this season.
Boyer: I think Brandon Ingram is primed for a season that has all of his detractors screaming “bust” based off of his rookie season reconsidering their word choice.
Cortes: Brandon Ingram is primed for a MIP-caliber season. Of course, he’s not gonna win the award since sophomores are supposed to be better than their rookie year. By MIP, I mean having a much better season than his rookie season. He seems to have improved overall during this offseason and we saw that in the Summer League, so it’s safe to say Brandon is looking to do the same in the regular season. I see a 16 PPG and 6 RPG stat line for Ingram for his sophomore season.
True or False: Lakers will be top-ten in transition scoring this season thanks to Lonzo Ball.
Allen: True!!! The Lakers should and will push the ball this season. I believe that’s something that Magic Johnson and Luke Walton are yearning for this season. To me, it makes all the sense in the world. They have the right squad to do it with all young and athletic guys. Also, they have the perfect point guard in Lonzo Ball as well. We know that he loves to push the ball with his passing and that’s going to be their strength this season. However, with the long ball, don’t be surprised if he’s amongst the league leaders in turnovers as well.
Boyer: While I expect the Lakers to transitionally hover around the league average, I don’t anticipate them cracking the top-ten. For this team, it’s all about baby steps.
Cortes: Players in their early playing years + a PG that focuses on moving the ball as quick as possible? Talk about running all day. True! We saw Lonzo’s playmaking ability in the Summer League, and one hopes it translates well into the actual regular season. The Lakers have a bunch of young players willing to run up and down, add Lonzo to the mix and you got yourself a top-10 transition team.
Kobe Bryant is getting both No. 8 and No. 24 retired by the Lakers on December 18th. Which Kobe will you remember the most and why?
Allen: This is a hard question for me because they were both great in their own right. No. 8 was one of the reasons I became a fan of basketball. He was one of my first memories and I loved everything that he brought to the game. However, I have to go with no. 24. As Kobe grew, I grew and in my older years of age, I got to see Kobe mature into an even greater player. He wasn’t the athletic player that #8 was but I saw how he picked apart the game and adapted to do what everyone said he wouldn’t do, win without Shaq.
Boyer: I became entranced with the game of basketball thanks to the wiry wing donning No. 8 and a nappy afro when I was six-years-old, but Kobe Bryant’s days as No. 24 is how I’ll always remember him. My basketball intellect matured during Kobe’s
Cortes: Kobe as #24 made me enjoy fundamentals and the actual complexity of the game. There’s no going wrong with Frobe no. 8, but no. 24 made me appreciate the game of basketball even more. The no. 24 phase of Kobe’s career cemented his legacy as an All-Time great and showed how important it is to always adapt to the game. Kobe #24 made me enjoy practicing my footwork and all of that “boring” aspects of basketball that seem to have diminished over the years.