The Los Angeles Lakers have a buzz around them starting the 2023-24 NBA season that has been missing over the last couple of years. There is a feeling everyone is finally on the same page, and if it stays this way, it could be a successful season for the Lakers.
The 2022-23 season they started the same way the year before had ended with a definite division among the players. Everyone knew the talent was there. The question was, could they work together as a cohesive unit? Or would too many egos keep them from reaching their potential? For most of the year, that was the discussion around the NBA. The Lakers would show flashes of greatness and then look like they had never played together the next game. Everything started to fall into place at the end of the season, and they found themselves invited to the play-in tournament. Which then turned into a couple of series victories before being beaten to stop their post-season run.
In the off-season, the Lakers appeared to keep that momentum going by using most of the money to keep the team together. Anthony Davis was awarded a massive contract. Austin Reaves, D’Angelo Russell, and Rui Hachimura all were signed to new deals. That alone would have been good, but then the Lakers added some needed defensive and bench players. Overall, it was a productive off-season that should pay off this season in wins.
Vincent was an exciting addition to the Lakers after having a positive impact in Miami last season. He averaged a modest 9.4 points a game with 2.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists. He will be the backup point guard behind Russell. Yet, with the defensive upside he brings to the table, I see him getting plenty of meaningful minutes.
Fans are excited about the impact Hayes will have backing up Davis at forward. The explosive play he brings in helps to make the Lakers a rim-attacking offense. Hayes could find himself on the starting lineup, playing alongside Lebron James, Davis, and Reaves at some point this year.
Some Players aren’t going to be in a Lakers jersey this year. A few of them are Mohamed Bamba, Malik Beasley, and Tristan Thompson. The most conflicting loss would probably be Bamba after being drafted in the first round at the sixth pick in 2018. Bamba showed flashes of being the talent they needed at center to make them a championship team. He could never be consistently a game-changer, so the Lakers decided to move on.
Starters: James, Davis, Reaves, Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt
Bench: Vincent, Hayes, Hachimura, Taurean Prince, Christian Wood, Jalen Hood-Schifino, Cam Reddish, Max Christie
Vanderbilt is looking to be on the starting lineup to start the season as long as he is healthy, but Hayes could be inserted in the lineup as the season progresses. If Vanderbilt doesn’t stay healthy or doesn’t play to the level that Hayes does, then the change could come.
Reaves is the most exciting piece of this puzzle this year. He turned up late last season and in the playoffs. If he builds on that performance this season, and James and Davis stay healthy, this could be a dangerous Lakers team for any opponent. Reaves could take the next step to superstar and shine during minutes that Davis or James are resting.
The Los Angeles Lakers could have a successful season in 2023-24. Another deep playoff run or championship is possible if star players stay healthy. The Lakers are a dangerous offensive team, but now they have the defensive players to make them complete. It’s a long season with some great teams to compete against, but doubting this team’s potential could be trouble.
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