The Los Angeles Lakers have a huge summer ahead of them. How it turns will play a major role in determining how they will be perceived in the time to come.
Perception is a relative term, indeed, but it is certainly important in the Lakers’ case. Over the last several years, the team has failed to land marquee players in free agency.
For reasons such as that, opinions of the Lakers’ franchise drastically altered in a not so great way. They seemed to lose their touch. The purple and gold no longer looked like a squad that was in the championship hunt.
Frankly, by this stage, the term perception is too kind because of the severe lack of tangible success. It has been the Lakers’ reality for multiple years in a row.
However, things started to finally change in 2017-2018. Sure, it is easy to point out that the team did not make the postseason for a fifth straight year. It is a truth many do not like to be reminded of.
The Lakers really turned a page, though, this past season. The 16-time champs were not getting pummeled to death every night. Even when the team lost, the ballclub did not have the dry spells that were so commonplace in previous campaigns.
An area that is truly worth paying attention to is the improved defense. Last season the Lakers ranked 29th in the league in terms of defensive efficiency. Contrarily, the ball club finished in the top half of the NBA this time around, which is impressive.
The Lakers’ elevated play would not have been possible without a few extremely promising youngsters. That list includes guys like Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, and Lonzo Ball.
Ingram’s all-around play in 2017-2018 proved he is worthy of wearing the Lakers’ colors. Kuzma’s arsenal of tricks on offense combined with Ball’s selfless attitude combined to form a dynamic pairing that will only get better with time.
While others deserve credit, too, these three project to be in the Lakers’ future without a doubt. Because of this, it is hard to not be excited about what the future holds for Los Angeles.
General manager Rob Pelinka feels the same way regarding this current unit. Pelinka, fresh off his first year on the job, is confident that L.A. is an appealing city to play for.
Not too long back, the GM asserted this stance while reflecting on the Lakers’ young pieces. According to Corey Hansford of Lakers Nation, Pelinka thinks their young talent will be hard for free agents to resist.
“The playoffs this year, I think have revealed that young players can be difference-makers. And in fact, as the game gets faster and more athletic, you need that to compete in today’s NBA. We feel like our young core is incredibly attractive.”
Due to players such as Ball, the Lakers definitely played at the up-tempo pace Pelinka referenced. Based on what basketball-reference.com notes, they ranked second in the league in that department this past year.
While free agents will not be lured by that stat alone, it speaks to the Lakers’ brand. They made it a priority to tire out the opposition given their style of play. Let alone that, they fulfilled the goal of waking up a rather tired fan base.
This summer the team’s brass has the chance to really resurrect the Lakers’ faithful. Granted nothing is known for sure, the Pacific Division team looks more attractive than it has in recent memory.
A lot of the reason as to why they are attractive stems from that glittering young core. It could very well be enough to help reel in a big fish in the near future.
It is no secret that the purple and gold reside in a town full of stars. Therefore, if Pelinka and Co. play their cards right, the historic franchise may get to add another individual to that extended list.