Los Angeles Lakers: The Young Core Brings Back the Showtime Era

Los Angeles is a key destination for anyone who wants to make it big in their career. Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and San Diego; everywhere in Southern California breeds an atmosphere of those who want more.

One of Los Angeles’ biggest draws is its sports – particularly the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers have been able to use their history as a top market to lure elite free agents. A franchise with 16 NBA championships creates a culture that breeds winning.

Ever since the 1980’s with the Showtime Lakers featuring Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabar, to the Kobe Bryant era, the Lakers have always had a superstar leading their franchise.

Over the past five years or so the Lakers have not been able to win like they once had. With the retirement of Kobe Bryant being the highlight after their championship in 2010, it has been difficult for the Lakers to fall back just on the appeal of Los Angeles. 

Now, it seems as if the Showtime era of Los Angeles is back.

In the 2017 NBA Draft, the Lakers made the decision to pick Chino Hills native Lonzo Ball with the number two pick. They also landed Kyle Kuzma, who was the steal of the late first round. Even though the Lakers were unable to make a dent in the western conference, these players brought a faint hope for years to come.

The Lakers young core consists of Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, and Josh Hart; Hart, Ball, and Kuzma coming through the 2017 NBA Draft.

Even though these players have brought a lot of potential energy to this city, what else do they have to show?

This core of players is oozing in potential. The likelihood that at least one of them becomes an all-star is very high. The risk the Lakers took by not trading all their young assets for Kawhi Leonard, or the year prior in Paul George; their front office has shown a willingness to believe in their talent evaluation. The ability to draw in top free agents in next year’s offseason along with this budget-friendly roster makes Pelinka and Johnson geniuses. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (sorry buddy) isn’t cutting it.

Lonzo Ball is misunderstood because the narratives developed of him by the casual fan. Lonzo Ball is a bad defender. Lonzo Ball can’t shoot. Lonzo Ball’s dad is insane (he is). But regardless, Ball has broken through every single stereotype and proved last year he can be more than a glorified skip passer. He’s going to be a legitimate threat from deep. He has excellent off-ball awareness; his cutting ability will open up the floor even more for the Lakers.

Ball has the chance to step and become the team’s second best player. Last year he led the Lakers in assist percentage at 28.8 percent, right over Draymond Green’s 28.6 percent. Ball even improved his three-point percentage as the year went on, becoming a more positive player in halfcourt situations. His focus offensively will be less about creating offense in the halfcourt and rather becoming a secondary playmaker and a masterful off-ball weapon on the wing for LeBron.

Brandon Ingram certainly has the potential for it. His jumper is so smooth; his length allows him to reach the basket with ease. Last year for the Lakers he led the team in scoring with 16.1 points per game, averaging 47 percent from the field and 39 percent from deep. But can he fit into the role of second or third fiddle and continue to grow his scoring arsenal?

Kuzma will always be an automatic bucket, but he isn’t likely to get starting minutes on a team where LeBron James and Ingram are playing a combined 70 plus minutes at the forward spots. He also averaged 16.1 points per game on a 55 percent true shooting. The scoring ability is there.

Josh Hart, though a dark-horse, has the potential to be that go-to guy for LeBron James. He shot 39 percent from deep last season and proved this summer league that he could create his own offense. It’s a longshot, but Hart has the makeup of a guard who would fit to a T in a LeBron James led offense.

Many things can be said about this Lakers young core, but how will they be able to fit next to all each other?

First, Many people have come up with the name “LeBronzo” when referring to the Lonzo, Lebron duo that has now formed in Los Angeles. Both these players are great playmakers, which will be fun to watch them create open shots for each other. Expect a lot of alley-oops from these too.

Second, This upcoming season looks to be a big one for Brandon Ingram who has stepped up in many ways for this Lakers team in recent years. Playing next to LeBron and the other Lakers, Ingram will become far more effective as he will now be able to create more offense for himself.

Third, Whether they start or come off the bench, Kyle Kuzma, and Josh Hart will be the spark plugs of this Lakers offense giving the team that extra energy they need throughout the long, tough games.

This young core is among many other forming around the league, the next couple of seasons will be a real test of how they will pan out.

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