After two consecutive years of unbearable basketball for one of the NBA’s most storied franchises, there is legitimate reason to be excited for Laker basketball again. After selecting 19-year old guard D’Angelo Russell with the No. 2 pick, Mitch Kupchak followed up by bolstering roster with acquisitions of Roy Hibbert, Lou Williams and Brandon Bass. Returning bright youngsters Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and Ryan Kelly look better than ever and Los Angeles’ unlikely couple of Kobe Bryant and Nick Young have looked surprisingly solid.
Given the unique blend of aging vets and untapped potential on the Los Angeles Lakers’ roster, their equally spread out schedule through October/November looks to be in their favor. The Lakers are scheduled to play just 16 games in the first month of action, with the first coming against the Minnesota Timberwolves on October 28th. Most importantly for the Lakers and Kobe Bryant, is there will only be a total of three back-to-back sets before December. Byron Scott recently addressed the issue of the Black Mamba, who turned 37 this year, playing in back-to-backs, stating that he will be on a strict minute restriction for such competitions. Though Kobe naturally doesn’t want to hear those words, it seems like the best decision following third straight season-ending injury. The good news is that the opponents that the Lakers play on the tail end of these sets, the Magic, the Suns and the Pacers, are all mediocre, non-playoff teams. It remains to be seen how Kobe will adjust his style of play to be more effective in a limited amount of minutes, but it will be worth following in the first month of action.
Of the 16 games through October/November, 9 games are set to come against opponents who didn’t see postseason action in 2015. Of the playoff opponents, 5 games will be played against Dallas Mavericks, Portland Trailblazers and Brooklyn Nets – three teams that most experts have pegged to fall out of the playoff race. This is good new for Lakers fans as not only will be give Kobe Bryant lots of time to rest and handle business, but inexperienced studs such as Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson will all have a seemingly better shot to transition this team to a fringe playoff contender.
One key stretch to watch out for is a 5 game road trip from November 6th to November 13th. The Lakers will start out East to play the Nets, Knicks, Heat, Magic and Mavericks before heading back to southern California. The road trip will only feature one back-to-back set and the Lakers have a real shot to come out of this short tour with a winning record. The stage is set for the Lakers road to reclaim respectability and they certainly have the talent to come out of the first month with a winning record.
Courtesy of the NBA