From Depp: LeBron James’ Lakers enter season with new coach and new players, but…

From day one, new Los Angeles Lakers Coach Darvin Hamm spoke about instilling a culture of defense first and holding players – even superstars – accountable. Just like Frank Vogel did.

Several players who left the Lakers have returned to their minimum contracts: Dennis Schroeder, Damian Jones and Thomas Bryant. Last year, the Lakers Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard, Kent Bazimore, Wayne Ellington, Trevor Ariza and Avery Bradley made a minimal return, and none of them are currently on the NBA roster.

Russell Westbrook is also back after a summer of trading speculation. And again, during the pre-season, people discuss Whether Anthony Davis will start in the center.

So why would anyone think that next season will be any different than the dark, frustrating season that preceded it?

For example, Davis, who played just 40 games last year – and only 22 of those matches alongside LeBron James – is likely to be available more often. Perhaps Hamm will have some semblance of roster continuity throughout the season, enabling him to mix and match different formation groups and land in a relatively steady rotation. In 2021-22, no five-man unit had appeared in more than 16 games or played more than 89 minutes together for the Lakers.

The presence of Davis and his better luck with injury in general wouldn’t have made this team competitive. Archers could not defend, defenders could not shoot, and the famous trade was a bankruptcy of blocks. But this team is different! In late August, Los Angeles Tallinn replaced Horton Tucker and Stanley Johnson with Utah Jazz For Patrick Beverly, he’s exactly the kind of player he didn’t have last season. A physical defender on attack point, he relishes the opportunity to check out the top players and has spent most of his career playing for the ball-dominant superstars.

Along with Beverly, who turned 34 in July, the Lakers have sought to go after players much younger than those they have targeted in recent seasons. The oldest free agent additions are the speedy Schroeder and the high-flying Juan Toscano Anderson, both 29 years old. They are joined by wings Lonnie Walker IV and Troy Brown Jr. Both are 23 years old and out of junior contracts. Jones and Bryant are 27 and 25 years old, respectively.

The walker, who signed with a mid-level exemption for taxpayers, is effectively a monk owner’s surrogate. Kendrick Nunn, who signed for mini-MLE in 2021, is finally in good health after missing his first season in Los Angeles with a knee injury. Toscano Anderson makes the front court more versatile, Brown theoretically does the same on the wing, and Jones does the big things Bryant doesn’t shoot, the 5 span, that he doesn’t. Some new players won’t play much, but the return of Austin Reeves will certainly do. By default, Reeves’ appearance was the best thing that happened to the Lakers last season.

For the LeBron team, there are no particularly high expectations. The list seems stacked together because it was, and feels incomplete because it’s almost certain. Westbrook’s expiring $47 million contract is on hold, and the Lakers’ 2027 and 2029 unprotected first-round picks are on hold. Available if the right deal comes out. However, the moment they break up with them, this strange in-between phase will be over and they will all be together with everything that comes back in return. New General Manager Rob Pelinka can only trade these picks once, and when they’re gone there won’t be many.

Conversation

Momen Lakers: Everyone loves to shoot at the Lakers. Everyone wants to rip from their supposed lack of depth, spacing, and affinity to sign players who have been there before. Everyone wants to make fun of Russell Westbrook and the trade that brought him to LA and the fact that he’s still there. But what everyone forgets is that the Lakers hire LeBron James And the Anthony Davis. So there.

Skeptical Lakers: I promise no one will forget that the Lakers hire LeBron and A.D. Is this really your best?

Momen Lakers: …no, it’s just getting started, obviously. Umm, Juan Toscano Anderson was a really cool pickup truck. He is smart, selfless, athletic and transformable. Lonnie Walker IV can have buckets. Patrick Beverly has a meaning in the world next to LeBron. Dennis Schroeder is back at the right price. Damian Jones shouldn’t have walked away in the first place. It’s finally Kendrick Nunn’s time. Oh, and Matt Ryan’s shooting is crazy. do you know is I worked in a cemetery last year? I think it deserves a place on the list.

Skeptical Lakers: I can tell that your heart is not really into this. You’ve talked yourself into the franchise-disrupting Westbrook trade, just as you’ve talked yourself into Schroder and Montrezl Harrell’s ill-considered engagements and Andre Drummond’s devastating chemistry experiment. You are haunted by a lot of thoughts about the potential of Talen Horton-Tucker. You’re not even trying to convince me that the Lakers are going to make it work with Westbrook anymore, and you’re not making rash statements about the Lakers’ title competition. See you. All is well.

Momen Lakers: Stop it! The last two seasons may have tempered my expectations, but that’s totally normal. I still think the Lakers will comfortably go through the playoffs as long as LeBron and AD are relatively healthy. As for Westbrook, I’ll be honest: With Beverley on the team and Schroder in the mix, I expect he’ll be traded sometime over the next four months. Public opinion has swung a lot toward him, though, and I’d like to see Darvin Hamm pair him with Beverly in the backcourt in Davis’ V5 lineup. Now, anyway.

Skeptical Lakers: How painful is it when you roll out the Davis-at-5 squad again? Let’s see what Davis himself He said about it on Wednesday: “I trust the coach’s decision. I mean, I’m sure he heard that AD wants to play the 4, so he knows where I am, but at the end of the day, I want to win, so if that’s me playing the 5, that’s what it should be.” That doesn’t sound like a man is excited about the possibility. The front office should get the already inevitable Miles Turner deal. RELATED: Why exactly did Rob Pelinka Get an extension?

Momen Lakers: Like everyone else, I thought what this team would look like with Turner and Buddy Hield instead of Westbrook. Starting and closing matches with Beverley, LeBron, AD and Turner is an attractive proposition from a defensive perspective, for sure, and Hield’s off-the-ball movement will give the attack a different dimension. If the Lakers decide that isn’t enough of a home run to justify giving up both options unprotected, I respect that. This package likely won’t be moving anywhere soon, and something much better may turn out between now and the deadline.

Skeptical Lakers: like what? Pau Gasol is not about to fall from the sky and save the franchise once again. If another star becomes available, the expired contract and two choices will not be executed. You’ve seen how much it costs for Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, and Dejaunt Murray in the summer. LeBron turns 38 in December, and the Lakers have failed spectacularly in three of his four seasons with the team. What’s wrong with the Turner-Hield package? No toy industry? LeBron can make more plays then! In a desperate situation, they can’t wait to get the perfect trade.

Momen Lakers: Are you doing the beggar thing that can’t be chosen? Come on. That’s not how the Los Angeles Lakers — or any team, for that matter — should operate. Besides, LeBron Just She signed a two-year extension. And why are the same people who insist that the Lakers are horrible also paying them to cash their chips ASAP? If they’re a pile of smelly trash, what’s the point of trading a scented candle? At least be consistent.

Skeptical Lakers: Correction: Functionally, the extension is only one year; He has a player option in 2024-25. Another correction: I didn’t say the Lakers were rubbish. They made some tough decisions, especially in the 2021 season. I somehow forgot that they not only traded Kyle Kuzma, Kentavius ​​Caldwell Pope and Montrezel Harrell for Westbrook, also Circulation No. 22 in the 2021 draft. Pacers That choice ended up taking on Isaiah Jackson, who would likely start with this Lakers. This is wild! By the way, Quentin Grimes, Bones Hyland, and Herb Jones were also on the board. Any of these guys would have paired well with Alex Caruso, and I feel Wesley Matthews would have been a nice mentor to Grimes specifically.

Momen Lakers: FFFFFFFFFFFINE. You broke me. Trade picks for TURNER AND HIELD. Throw their Daniel into the bargain, too. whatever. Just get some competent activists on this team and balance the list a bit. LeBron deserves better than this. Los Angeles deserves better than this. And let’s be honest: Boost streaming wasn’t perfect in 2020, whatever. Please, Bilinka. I beg you.

Skeptical Lakers: I knew you’d find your way here. Hello. And yes, this is a scented candle. Pumpkin spice.

Curiosity: Lonely Walker IV

It’s easy for the Lakers to sign Walker. After firing a GPA of 40.3 percent from a 3-point range, his first two seasons were with San Antonio Spurs, it shot 35.5 percent in year three and 31.4 percent in year four on much larger samples. Walker always took long seconds, didn’t shoot them efficiently and was never an above average defender. San Antonio usually hides it from any peripheral player they consider the least threatening.

And for the second man, Walker was pricey. He signed a one-year deal for mid-level taxpayers ($6.5 million), leaving the Lakers with minimal contracts to offer other free agents. (One multiplier effect: They can only sign 19-year-old Max Christie, 35th in the draft, on a two-year deal. If Christie shines in his second season, the Lakers will have to decide whether to give him a big raise or lose him.) Eleven teams signed the second-round pick for a record contract, and Atlanta Hawks They are the only others who have done it this way.)

If Walker was a producer, no one would care about any of that. At the age of 24, with a soft-look sweater and eye-catching athletic performance, you can see his highlights and be convinced he has stellar potential. On this Lakers team, if it only comes close to what owner Monk caused last season and wasn’t a liability on the other end, the signing would look like a smashing success.

And if he turns out to be a smash, the Lakers might actually be able to keep him, which was not the case with Monk. The big benefit of giving him a mini-MLE is that it won’t be immediately priced when he hits a free agency.

another thing

It’s hard to overstate the importance of the Davis jacket. In the 2020 qualifiers, the most iconic mark of his career, I sometimes felt he couldn’t miss it. Davis shot 38.3 percent of the 3-point range on 2.9 attempts per game in those 21 games, and according to Cleaning The Glass, he made 49 percent of long 2s. In the two seasons since then, Davis has notched 22.9 percent in the depth and 38 percent in the long seconds.

Recently, Davis said he dedicated his opponents to fixing his shot, Via AthleticAnd that this was due to a wrist injury he sustained in January.

“That’s it,” Davis said. “I never lost faith in my shot. I only had a small wrist injury.”

Davis added that he is now “in good health” and has recovered his muscle memory from behind the arc. Hamm wants him to shoot more 3s, and if the defenses are to honor his jump, it will go a long way toward improving the L.A. spacing. I won’t put the pre-season stats here because the sample is too small to mean anything, but it looks good.

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