If you’ve been following the Lakers, you’ll know that the Lakers youngsters have been practicing hard each day. They are motivated to prove all the doubters and critics wrong. They have even earned the nickname “The Breakfast Club” for their early morning workouts
Unfortunately, one of the Breakfast Club members, Lakers power forward Julius Randle, suffered an injury during practice yesterday.
“Lakers forward Julius Randle suffered a laceration to his right hand (webbing between middle and ring fingers) yesterday while practicing. He received 7 stitches and will be re-evaluated in approximately 14 days.” – Los Angeles Lakers
Thankfully, the injury is relatively minor. Randle can continue to do certain workouts and will not miss any camp or preseason time. His development will in no way be hindered nor will all the progress he has made this offseason.
Once fans learned the injury was minor they expressed their disappointment. Julius Randle is often critiqued on not having a right hand. Julius is a lefty, but most NBA stars can attack the rim with either hand. Fans were disappointed that Julius did not hurt his left hand, as they want him to become better with his right hand.
They might be on to something, but I am sure Julius can improve his offhand without having to injure his other hand. In the meantime, we wish Julius Randle a speedy recovery.
This past Monday, the Lakers signed former NBA player Yi Jianlian to a 1 year 1.1 million dollar contract. Jianlian was drafted 6th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks, but after several disappointing seasons, he retired from the NBA.
However, Jianlian turned heads in this year’s summer Olympics. He averaged 20.4 points, shot 46% from deep, and seems to have improved his physicality on defense.
Despite already having a crowded frontcourt, the Lakers signing Jianlian makes sense. He’s a 6’11 power forward who can stretch the floor and rebound well enough to play in Luke’s small ball lineups. His shooting sets him apart from other Lakers big men.
Jianlian’s best NBA season was in 2010 with the Nets. He averaged 12 points and 7.2 rebounds. It is wishful thinking to hope Yi will reproduce those stats, but Jianlian could end up being a valued trade asset or better yet, an impactful role player.
Jianlian is a low risk, high reward gamble for the Lakers. His contract is only 1 year long and leaves the Lakers with cap flexibility. Yi is also only 28, meaning he is in his athletic prime.
Yi will also help Lakers on the business side. When Jeremy Lin was on the team, the Lakers had numerous Chinese fans buying Lakers jerseys and attending the games. Jianlian will most likely bring the same attention to the Lakers.
Yi Jianlian is definitely an upgrade over Ryan Kelly.
As the second pick in the 2016 draft and a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, Brandon Ingram will have to deal with a lot of high expectations. In fact, Ingram is already being compared to NBA superstar Kevin Durant.
Both came into the league with a skinny frame, long wingspan, and diverse skillset. Both were number two draft picks. The similarities are definitely there, but it may take some time for Ingram to reach his full potential.
In Durant’s rookie year, he averaged 20.3 points and won ROTY. Like Durant, Ingram has expressed his desire to win the award.
“That’s something that is on my mind. All rookies want to win rookie of the year. That’s something that drives me.” – Ingram
Realistically, Ingram’s chances are slim. He will be coming off the bench for at least the start of the season, and he is playing with many ball dominant players. As a result, his touches and minutes will be less than that of a certain rookie.
Ben Simmons is the obvious favorite to win ROTY. He is going start on an awful Sixers team and will immediately be handed the keys to the offense. Simmons stats will be inflated, whereas Ingram’s won’t.
Ingram still has a chance however. Ingram is more NBA ready than most rookies, Simmons included. He may even eventually start later in the season, or even just be a force off the bench similar to Ben Gordon is rookie year.
Time will tell which rookie will win the award. My money is on Simmons, but I am rooting for Ingram.
Over the past few years, the NBA has undergone major changes. Teams are more reliant on the three point shot and the center position is becoming obsolete. But has the NBA evolved enough that a team can have success with two point guards on the court?
The Phoenix Suns have been rocking a two-point guard backcourt for some time. Their last playoff appearance was in 2010.
Currently, the Lakers are starting both point guards D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson, and both look to be apart of the Lakers’ long-term plans. It remains to be seen if this will be a successful backcourt.
The most successful dual point guard system was that of the ’89 Pistons team that won a ring. Joe Dumars and Isiah Thomas averaged a combined 14 assists a game and led one of the best defensive teams the NBA has seen. Dumars and Thomas were talented players whose talents complimented one another. Dumars was an excellent 3-point shooter. Thomas was an aggressive slasher. Their strengths fit one another.
Similarly, Russell has proven to be an excellent perimeter shooter and Clarkson attacks the rim more times than not. In fact, both are looking to expand their game. Numerous videos of Clarkson knocking down threes have emerged and Russell has shown us a variety of post moves in Summer League. Both are talented players, who over time will develop a strong chemistry that will help them coexist together on offensive end.
However, unlike Dumars and Thomas, Clarkson and Russell are not known for their defensive prowess. The Lakers were close to last in most defensive categories and part of the blame falls on the two point guards. If the two wish to succeed on the court together, then they will have to become much better defenders.
Fortunately, they have the tools to improve. Both are tall for the point guard position and can learn a lot from veteran Luol Deng, who is known for his defense.
Having two point guards on the floor has its benefits and history has shown us it can be successful. The key for D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson coexisting lies not only within how good defenders they will become but also their chemistry and ability to play to each others strengths.
At the 2016 Summer League, several Lakers players shined, from coveted rookie Brandon Ingram to fan favorite Zubac. One player however, Anthony Brown, did not play up to expectations.
During his days at Stanford, Brown was an excellent three-point shooter, shooting 44% from behind the arc his senior year. However, his NBA rookie year he shot a mere 29% from trey, leaving fans wondering if he is deserving of a roster spot.
In today’s NBA, 3 and D players are coveted highly. Danny Green and Andre Iguodala are both valuable contributors to contending teams and are primarily known for their great defense and three-point shooting.
Brown has definitely shown he has the potential to be an excellent perimeter defender. In the Laker’s first Summer League Game, Brown held talented prospect Buddy Hield to 25% from the field. Yet Brown knows that’s not enough.
“Make more shots; that’s the number one thing. If i do that, I’ll probably get on the court. But without that, I probably won’t get on the court.” -Anthony Brown
Brown has the potential to be a serviceable player for the Lakers in the future, but it may take some time for Brown to reach his full potential. Before he was the league’s best 3 and D player, Danny Green was cut by two teams within two months and even contemplated playing overseas.
Green’s path to where he is now was a gradual process, and it is more than likely so will Anthony Brown’s.
Brown has a very cap-friendly contract and has shown he has the potential to be a useful rotation player. At the very least, Brown can be a defensive specialist off the bench. But if Brown were to pan out, he could be a great role player.
Anthony Brown is definitely worth the trouble.