Welcome to the 2016-17 Lakers Lair season roundtable. Lakers Lair is where our Society Laker fans come together to talk subjectively about their favorite team.
The Los Angeles Lakers are going through their first training camp without Kobe Bryant in 20 years. Some new blood on the roster and on the sideline makes for more transitions into this next era for the franchise.
DJ Allen, Martin Soaries, and Will Boyer answer some questions regarding thoughts and expectations for the 2016-17 season.
1. Is the Lakers’ true successor to Kobe Bryant currently on this roster?
Allen: Similar to what I said in our forum, I don’t know if one of the guys is his true successor, but I believe as a group package, they can be seen as the successors to Kobe Bryant. For their egos and being so young, it’s best to promote them as a group package until one of them proves themselves as the head of the pack.
Martin: No. D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, and Julius Randle have to collectively embrace and attack the challenge of carrying up Kobe’s mantle to usher in a new era of Lakers basketball under Luke Walton. There won’t be any one true successor unless we were to acquire an established superstar.
Boyer: Not yet. I think this group should focus on collective ascension before anything else. Once they reach more significant stages in the NBA, that will serve as a platform to show who is willing to step up in the big moments, which is something Kobe Bryant certainly didn’t shy away from.
2. Give me a lineup you’re secretly hoping Luke Walton rolls out at some point this season.
Allen: Russell, Clarkson, Ingram, Yi, Mozgov. I would love to see how this lineup would pan out on the court. Going big with two 7-footers and a long wing in Ingram at the three could provide defensive problems as well as provide a well-balanced floor on the offensive end with four out and one in the paint.
Soaries: Russell, Clarkson, Ingram, Randle, Mozgov. Here’s to hoping Ingram cracks into the starting lineup at some point since Walton is set on bringing him off the bench initially. I see this as possibly our most capable lineup and one I’m sure we’ll see.
Boyer: Calderon/Russell/Ingram/Nance Jr./Randle. I’m hoping to see this lineup for mostly Russell at shooting guard, which I think is a position he has untapped position in. He can post guards up, and has underrated ability as a cutter. It will also give him a chance to be more of a spot-up shooter, and although a defensive backcourt of he and Calderon may be subject to some defensive torching, I think Calderon is better than having Lou Williams or Jordan Clarkson handle floor general duties.
J Alexander Diaz/Lakers.com
3. D’Angelo: better at point guard or shooting?
Allen: Point guard, mainly because I believe Jordan Clarkson is a pure shooting guard and our leading scorer next season. I believe Clarkson is often overlooked when discussing the young future of the Lakers. Maybe it’s because he wasn’t a lottery pick. Although I said in question one that the Lakers should be packaged as a group, if there’s one person I can see taking the reigns, its Jordan Clarkson. If he can take his scoring to the next level this season and grasp a killer instinct, he can be the head of this team.
Soaries: Russell has the passing and playmaking feel of a point. It’s Jordan Clarkson who needs to stand firm as the two guard, because our best lineups will have both of them on the floor.
Boyer: I believe Russell has some shooting guard skills that need to be unearthed like I mentioned in the previous question, but for this team his best position is point guard. Russell is a natural playmaker, and with the full backing of his coach we should see that in more than just spurts this season.
4. Larry Nance Jr. or Julius Randle: Who should be pegged as the starting power forward?
Allen: I’m saying Julius Randle as a starter just because I’d rather see Nance come off the bench as the sixth man and make an impact with the second group. I envision him showing out this year and being a great pick-and-pop guy from mid-range with the second unit.
Soaries: Randle. I still see Randle needing to solidify his place as a leader of this team but his place is as a starter. Nance Jr. is more suited for the ample opportunities he’ll receive as a reserve.
Boyer: Randle, although Nance Jr. won’t submit without a fight. Randle gives the starting five another playmaker in terms of pushing the ball up the court (he wasn’t the most willing passer last season) and strong rebounder, and I think the Lakers look at Randle to bring a ferocity, focus and fire to the first five that has been absent over the last couple of seasons. Nance Jr. solidifies the bench unit and gives Calderon a nice pick-and-roll partner, which is something we’ll see much more of this season.
(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
5. 25 wins: over or under?
Allen: I’m going over at about 27/28 wins. I know the Lakers aren’t going to win a lot of games and I don’t expect them to but what I would love to see is growth, chemistry, and just a hard work ethic out there on the floor.
Soaries: Over. Better be over.
Boyer: Over, but I’m not focused on wins. What I’ll be concentrated on is the overall on-court product the Lakers tout, which has been a horror for the last several seasons. I want to see a boost in morale, execution, and the level of energy in which the guys play with. The dreary cloud of Byron Scott no longer spits rain over Staples, and that fact alone I expect to translate into better ball. Los Angeles is going to drop a lot of ball games, but if they learn and have fun in the process, it’s a victory in my eyes.