LA Lakers First Preseason Game Provides Mixed Results

LA Lakers First Preseason Game Provides Mixed Results
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Lakers’ preseason started with a matchup against Pacific Division rivals, the Sacramento Kings. This was the first look at the team with its revamped roster under new coach, Darvin Ham. Despite a competitive first half, the Lakers fell to the Kings 105-75. Still, the team showed some flashes and made a concerted effort to show some of the improvements they hope to make this season. Here are some takeaways from the game:

The Good

Despite the final score, LA played a solid first half of basketball. They outscored the Kings 46-41 after two quarters, showcasing some solid defense and energy on both sides of the floor. Anthony Davis went 4-of-9 from the field, scoring 11 points to go with 11 boards in only one half of play. A good sign for the team as their star big man looked healthy and played aggressively.

Russell Westbrook also looked sharp after a drama-filled summer concerning his future with the team. He looked good attacking the basket and finding open teammates for easy scores. Preseason performances should be taken with a grain of salt, but Laker faithful undoubtedly enjoyed seeing their All-Star point guard play with confidence and purpose this early in the year.

Kendrick Nunn saw his first minutes since last preseason when he went down with a bone bruise. The injury sidelined him for the entire season. Nunn was clearly getting his legs under him but showed flashes of what he is capable of providing to the team. The biggest surprise early in the preseason for the Lakers was Wenyen Gabriel. Gabriel is on a non-guaranteed contract but looked very good off the bench for the Lakers and should see more minutes in the future if he continues to play well. He was active on defense, blocking several shots, and fit well into coach Ham’s defensive schemes. Other bright spots were rookies, Max Christie and Cole Swider.

The Bad

Preseason games are almost never indicative of what a team will look like in the regular season. That being said, there are a few areas for concern with this iteration of the Lakers. Lebron James had a rough night going 0-for-7 from the field and scoring only four pts. This isn’t too much to be concerned about, considering this was his first game back with the team after an extended break for the offseason.

The shooting woes of the Lakers have been noted for some time now, and they did little to improve their numbers last night against Sacramento. While the team did not shoot well from deep, another potential issue going forward is their rebounding. The guard-heavy Lakers struggled to get defensive rebounds at times. Their rebounding was not a concern going into the season but is an area to monitor closely going forward.

The Ugly

Turnovers are expected in the preseason, but the Lakers turned the ball over at an alarming rate last night. The Kings only turned the ball over seven times compared to the 20 turnovers by the Lakers. Granted, the majority of the turnovers came in the second half when LA benched their starters. Still, the team made a concerted effort to get younger this season, and with more young players on the roster, it will be important for them to cut down on their mistakes. It is worth noting that the Lakers were without a few key role players in Lonnie Walker IV, Troy Brown Jr., and Dennis Schroder. Walker and Brown were out with minor injuries, while Schroder was awaiting Visa approval to join the team. All of these players are expected to be available as the preseason progresses.

What’s Next?

The Lakers’ preseason will continue as they head to Las Vegas for a back-to-back against the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday and the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday. This will give the team a look at two Western rivals as the team continues to gel heading into the regular season.

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