Posts tagged Kyle Kuzma
Lakers core paving the future

If you haven’t noticed, the Los Angeles Lakers have been playing out of their minds recently. Winners of 12 of their last 16 games, the Lakers see the light at the end of the tunnel. This team no longer looks like a lottery team and has its sight set on the future while having one of the best young cores in the NBA right now.

When you look across the NBA, you would be hard pressed that has a young core that is better than Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and Julius Randle. All of the players mentioned above have shown the provide something to the team in the present, and you can also see amazing potential in all of these kids. One of the biggest improvements to this Lakers team has been the improved play of Randle.

Randle has been one of the most consistent players on this team and is balling like crazy in the last year of his contract. He’s been able to prove why he deserves to be the Lakers' starting power forward for many years to come. His conditioning and playmaking has improved a lot from previous years, and his physicality makes him a headache to guard. His status with the team going forward is up in the air, but with how he has been producing lately and the fact that he’s impressed Magic Johnson has Lakers fans optimistic they’ll be able to re-sign him.

Josh Hart and Kyle Kuzma may have been two of the biggest steals in the 2017 NBA draft. The addition of Josh Hart to the starting line-up in Lonzo’s absence has been a huge key to why the Lakers are currently the second-hottest team in the NBA. He plays the game the correct way, knocks down open shots and competes like crazy on the glass and on defense.

Kuzma has been one of the best scorers for this Lakers team, and has become a fan favorite. He also has dominated the personal match-up each time he has faced Jayson Tatum, and led the Lakers to an impressive win over the Celtics.

The biggest two pieces to this Lakers core though is the duo of Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball. These twenty year old's have shown that they are ready to take the NBA by storm in the coming years. Lonzo became the youngest player to ever record a triple double and the Lakers have a higher win percentage with him in the line-up. His impressive court vision and his surprising defensive talent has Lakers fans dreaming of future NBA championships. Ingram has been equally impressive with how much he improved from his rookie year. He’s able to finish at the rim with a much higher success rate this season, and even has shown his ability to set others up for a easy basket. Also, both of these young future all-stars are under team friendly deals as well.

These five players are going to be the core that brings home championship #17 to Staples. Not only have they been impressive on the court, but they have made LA a desirable free agent destination in the summer of 2018 or 2019. Every one of those guys has shown that they can compete and play at the NBA level, as well as produce a decent win total without a superstar. The Lakers are on pace to pass their win total last year and not by a small margin either. Last year the Lakers didn’t win their 22nd game until early April. This year, with the young core balling like the young goat’s they are, did it in early February with a ton of winnable games left on the schedule.

The small ballers in the world like to think the youth movement in LA is nothing special. The small ballers out there want to believe our two future starts Ingram and Lonzo are busts, and that Kuzma and Hart have had a fluke year. They also want you to believe that Randle couldn’t even get the Lakers a first round pick at the trade deadline. Next time you see a small baller, let them know that a storm is coming, and that storm has a young core that will be coming for their throats.

Lakers must now look ahead towards the summer of 2018
Kyusung Gong/ AP    

Kyusung Gong/AP

 

While many Lakers fans were hopeful this current team could fight for the 8th seed in the West, inevitably reality sank in for the Los Angeles Lakers. Standing 7.5 games out of a playoff spot at 12-27, it's time for the Lakers to plan ahead for this summer. The only untouchables on the squad are Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma. Everyone else is available for trade at the deadline to clear up cap space and acquire more assets. Let’s take a look at some possible trade outcomes.


Lakers Receive: DeMarcus Cousins

Pelicans Receive: Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and 2020 First Round Pick

This trade should only be explored if DeMarcus is 100% certain he doesn’t want to extend with New Orleans and is 100% committed to signing with the Lakers long term. According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the Pelicans are not listening to trade offers at the moment. Yet if the Pelicans remain around .500 and are still in the playoff hunt around the trade deadline, it would make sense for them to explore options.

The Lakers would be getting a max free agent early, and would get to see how Cousins fits with Lonzo, Kuzma and Ingram for 2 months. The Pelicans get Clarkson who can put up points in a hurry, as well as a potential double-double guy in Randle. The Pelicans would covet another asset in the future first-rounder. They may believe they can re-sign Cousins in the summer, but it would leave them without nearly any cap space with money already owed to Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday and Solomon Hill. It makes sense to move on and not let Cousins walk for nothing in the summer.


Lakers Receive: Nerlens Noel and Devin Harris

Mavericks Receive: Julius Randle, Luol Deng and 2020 First Round Pick

This is a salary dump the Lakers would be hoping to put on the Dallas Mavericks, while also giving them some assets to work with. Randle would give the Mavs a young talent with restricted free agent status looming while they continue the rebuild, plus a 2020 draft asset. The Lakers would be free up cap space for the summer of 2018 while also giving Nerlens Noel a chance to earn some playing time since he isn’t receiving much in Dallas.
 

Brook Lopez and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope could also be moved to teams that hope to add some talent for their playoff run, but their contracts make them harder to move. If Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka are able to move either one for a late 2018 first rounder, that would be a huge success for the Lakers.

One thing Lakers fans can count on is the front office will be active at the deadline with Magic and Pelinka work to get this franchise back on track. The Lakers and their front office will be judged heavily off of what they can do to prepare for an insane summer in free agency.