Several playoff drought seasons and a Kobe Bryant-less team have left the Los Angeles Lakers out of contention for quite some time now, but that is all about to change this upcoming season.
As a matter of fact, this will probably be the most compelling season that the Lakers will have since Bryant’s farewell tour with the franchise. The future is finally looking bright for this young team, and it already looks like they are going to be a walking headline around the league, if they haven’t already proved so thus far.
Drafting Lonzo Ball with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft has been a big contribution to this proposition. A well-needed culture shift has risen from this decision, and it will help put them on the map as one of the NBA’s most iconic basketball clubs once again. As one of NCAA basketball’s top talents last year, Ball lead the UCLA Bruins to the Elite 8 in March Madness and has proven that he is able to lead any team he plays for to success. He has proven this further by competing with some of the NBA’s young talent in the Summer League and leading the Lakers’ team to a championship, earning himself the MVP title. After being a part of the Lakers for only just a couple of weeks, he has already started collecting them some hardware. He will truly be a delight to watch in the NBA, and only time will tell how far he will be able to lead his team in the years to come.
Most of the concern surrounding Lonzo Ball does not involve him personally. After months of positive and negative publicity given to him by his father, LaVar Ball, it has been understood by the Lakers that drafting him would come with a package deal that they may or may not be ready to take on. Ball’s father has quickly become a fan favorite to some, but has also received a lot of criticism for some of his public spews. This has caused the Lakers to become skeptical about making him a part of their franchise, since they were worried about what type of impact this would have on their image. They even went as far as seeking advice from UCLA’s basketball program about LaVar Ball’s impact on the team’s image and productivity.
LaVar Ball has used the pedestal of his son’s success to gain spotlight and promote his family’s Big Baller Brand, which they hope to have succeed as their own personal brand rather than looking to have Ball sign to a big name brand as most other accomplished players tend to. Although perceived in the wrong way at times, Ball’s father’s antics are now mostly being taken in good fun and will continue to be a source of entertainment at the very least. He has been featured on several sports talk shows, had public contests with celebrities, and has even been featured in a WWE event all before the start of Ball’s rookie season. He may serve as the extra spice with everything else that Ball will bring to the Lakers.
Along with drafting Ball, the Lakers have made some key off-season transactions that have put them in a better position to build for their future. One of those moves heavily involved the Brooklyn Nets. This was the destination for their former future star D’Angelo Russell, as they were looking to clear the way for Ball. The Lakers also moved Timofy Mozgof in this deal, in an attempt to rid them of his lengthy contract. In return, the Lakers received Brook Lopez and the No. 27 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, who they used to pick up Kyle Kuzma. There is likely to be some tension between the two teams when they face off this season. A couple of players will be returning to their former home arenas, and Russell will likely have a chip on his shoulder and feel that he has a lot to prove after being traded during his rookie contract. With both teams in a rebuilding position, it will be interesting to see how their season series turns out.
Magic Johnson has placed some large expectations on the Lakers’ future when he was named their president of basketball operations last season. He stated that he is fully committed to making the Lakers one of the great franchises in all of sports once again, and does not plan on having it any other way. Having an all time great Laker as the team’s president is a great look for them, and they are hoping that he will lead them in the right direction to success.
Lonzo Ball and the Lakers have a lot to prove this season, and the expectations have been set high. How they perform this year will show where they stand amongst the other young teams on the rise, as well as the rest of the league.
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