A Dynasty in Decline?
The Los Angeles Lakers are one the most successful franchise in all of professional sports. What other team can boast 16 titles and an all time roster stocked that includes 21 Hall of Famers? All is not well in Laker Land recently however, with zero playoff appearances in the last four years and consecutive 60 loss seasons.
In fact, since defeating the hated Celtics for the title in 2010 the Lakers have clearly been a team in decline. Tinsel Town is no longer a destination for free agents, and when many observers look at the Lakers, they see a franchise that seems to be going nowhere fast. These are down years to be sure, but the real question is whether they’re even headed in the right direction.
Expectations are low this season in Los Angeles. Experts believe the Lakers will be lucky if they finish in the top 12 of the Western Conference. There’s a good chance that the young players won’t develop soon enough to get max value out of Timofy Mogov and Luol Deng, but the future looks bright nonetheless. It shouldn’t be long before Los Angeles again becomes an attractive destination for free agents.
One reason for this optimism is leadership. GM Mitch Kupchak is one of the best in the league and has a history of making moves that pay off in the long run. The Lakers also have their coach of the future in place. Longtime Laker and former Warriors’ assistant Luke Walton has a great basketball mind and comes in having already won the respect of his players.
The roster has a young and dynamic nucleus. In what amounted to his rookie year, forward Julius Randle averaged a double double last season. And second year point guard D’Angelo Russell showed just enough last year to distract fans from his off court troubles. With time, he should be able to pair nicely with leading scoring Jordan Clarkson. Rounding out the young nucleus are Julius Randle and second overall draft pick Brandon Ingram, both of whom have enormous upside.
It seems that The Lakers are headed in the right direction. Most of the important pieces are in place, so all that’s needed now is a little patience.