Despite the myriad of distractions as the Lakers get ready for the first of their preseason showdowns with the Nets, head coach Frank Vogel can’t help but be excited at his team’s prospects. After a stellar showing against the reigning Western Conference Champion Warriors in their first preseason game, the Lakers firmly established themselves as a team to watch in 2019-2020 (as if they hadn’t already).
Lakers’ Coach Frank Vogel Praises Rob Pelinka for Strong Roster
The Lakers’ roster last year wasn’t lacking in talent, however, they lacked the cohesion and depth necessary to deal with the myriad of injuries that were thrown their way. Former president of basketball operations Magic Johnson was widely credited for the team’s construction last year and after he walked early in the offseason, GM Rob Pelinka essentially hit the reset button on the entire roster.
Trading almost all of their young talent for Anthony Davis, the Lakers made a number of free agency acquisitions to help surround their two superstars. Whereas last year’s team had a heightened emphasis on playmaking, this year’s Lakers look to be handing over the playmaking reigns almost entirely to LeBron while surrounding him with an elite scorer (Davis) and heaps of sharpshooters to space the floor.
While it was only the preseason, the Lakers showcased how deadly that floor spacing could be as James and Davis feasted on the interior of the Warriors defense with plenty of room to work. Whenever the defense DID collapse, Danny Green was the frequent recipient of kick-outs for wide-open looks. In just 14 minutes, the spot-up shooter Green took five shots from deep, making two.
Alex Caruso & Troy Daniels Shine off Bench in Preseason Opener
While neither saw any minutes in the first half of the Lakers’ preseason opener against the Warriors, Alex Caruso and Troy Daniels checked in to start the second half and promptly took over the game for the Lakers. Daniels, who was brought in as a shooting specialist, looked great on both sides of the ball and flashed a considerably more diverse offensive skillset than initially advertised.
Entering his age 28 season, Daniels has only once played more than 20 minutes per game in a season and as a result, still is somewhat of a relative unknown. Perennially stuck behind superstars throughout his career (James Harden & Devin Booker), Daniels could turn some heads and carve himself out a decent-sized role off the bench. While he shouldn’t be expected to take the starting spot from Danny Green anytime soon, his versatility to play either shooting guard or small ball three should come in handy for the Lakers.
Alex Caruso simply continues his journey from cult hero to legitimate contributor. Looking poised and confident leading the second unit, Caruso trailed only LeBron in assists for the Lakers while playing efficient offense and staunch defense. While Bradley seemed to work well with the first unit and helped the Lakers get out to an early lead that they wouldn’t surrender, Caruso looks to offer some tremendous upside as a potential starter. He has strong natural chemistry with LeBron James dating back to last season and his ability to play off the ball is a must for a LeBron-led offense.
The early performances from both bode well for the Lakers’ depth heading into the grueling 82-game regular season.