Lakers president Magic Johnson let the world know on Friday that “the newest face of the Lakers” is Lonzo Ball. Ball, who was the second overall pick by the Lakers in the draft, will be asked to help lead the team back to prominence.
At this point, the Lakers are pretty far away from becoming a title contender, but that could change quickly. There is always the possibility of Paul George, who reportedly wants to be a Laker, and has told the Pacers that he will be opting out his contract in the summer of 2018. If George comes to Los Angeles, that accelerates things. With the front office issues in Cleveland, who knows what could happen with LeBron James. James can opt out of his contract at the end of next season, and according to reports, might have some interest in playing in Los Angeles. With the trade of D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Nets, the Lakers get cap space, which can help them in the summer of 2018.
In terms of making the playoffs next year, LaVar Ball thinks it will happen, but I don’t. Maybe Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle get better. Maybe the addition of Brook Lopez, who is an upgrade in the middle, solidifies the frontcourt, and maybe Ball has a huge rookie season. If all those things happens, maybe the playoffs could be a reality.
However, if you look at the Western Conference, can you say the Lakers are better than Memphis or Portland? Who were the 7th and 8th seed respectively in the Western Conference last season. Are the Lakers better than New Orleans and Minnesota? Two teams that did not make the playoff last season, but Minnesota added Jimmy Butler, who makes them better, and the Pelicans have a training camp to get the DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis frontcourt combination to work. The Mavericks probably will be better next season, and Denver won’t be bad either. So, the playoffs might be a tall order for Los Angeles next year.
No matter what happens next season for the Lakers, things are looking a lot better now, than it did a few months ago.