As we edge nearer to 2018, it’s time to take a closer look at the Los Angeles Lakers roster. Standing at 11-19, the Lakers look set to win around 30 games again. So, have the Lakers improved? The simple answer is yes. Luke Walton has begun to use the Lakers’ youth to their advantage, leading the league in pace and improving on the defensive side of the ball. Having gone through some changes this past off-season, the Lakers are still trying to adapt and gel as a group. This has led to some late-game trouble and even some naive decisions. Walton has tried to involve as many veterans as possible, in an attempt to aid the younger players. However, this may not be ideal for the Lakers going forward.
Here is why Walton must unleash a young trio on the NBA sooner rather than later.
Los Angeles Lakers Youth Should Play More
It’s Time to Play with Some Hart
The Lakers have a young trio waiting in the wings for more playing time. Rookie Josh Hart has impressed when given the chance and should benefit from the extra minutes. Hart is a hard-working guard whose main impact comes on the defensive side of the ball. A winner in college at Villanova, Hart is also a capable three-point shooter making him a valuable three-and-D guard in today’s NBA. As veteran guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope struggles, the Lakers would do well to move on as soon as possible. Inserting Hart into the starting lineup would be a bold move, but one that could pay off big time.
Ivica Zubac is the Tallest Question Mark in Los Angeles
One big question often asked by Lakers fans is: Where on earth is Ivica Zubac? The big man was a solid contributor last season but has been missing from the team on all but seven occasions this campaign. Averaging 7.5 points in his rookie year, Zubac has proved he can be useful. However, the skillful seven-footer has spent most of the season in the NBA G-League. It’s been a confusing decision in the eyes of Lakers fans, but one they’ve become used to this year. Veteran center Brook Lopez has struggled mightily of late. The former Brooklyn Nets big man is averaging career lows in almost every key stat, with his future with the Lakers looking uncertain. Currently injured, it’s difficult to see Lopez starting again once healthy.
A New Bryant Has Arrived in L.A.
There is one name floating around Laker Nation that your everyday NBA fan probably wouldn’t know. Rookie Thomas Bryant has been dominating in the NBA G-League this season. Averaging a striking 22 points, 7.5 rebounds, and almost two blocks per game, Bryant is edging closer to playing NBA minutes and has even been called up by the Lakers. With Andrew Bogut averaging a poultry 1.4 points per game, it’s time to unleash the talented rookie out of Indiana. Bogut is a great team player and should remain an option off the bench, but if given the choice, the Lakers must give the rookie more time.
The Los Angeles Lakers youth has arrived and need to see NBA minutes. Anything else would be counter-intuitive. The Lakers are a team of the future, not today. So, if you’re building for tomorrow, why give minutes to players who won’t be there for the end result? This is a tough decision to make, especially with the Lakers not owning their pick this year, but it’s a decision that is inevitable. With an average age of just under 25, growing pains are unavoidable. So, why not get a head start and as Joel Embiid says, “Trust the process.”
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