Making their preseason debut against the Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Lakers sent a message early that this team is vastly different than Laker units in recent years. Going on an 18-5 run to start the game, the Lakers showcased an improved physicality and renewed defensive focus that looks to be the calling cards for this team moving forward as they picked up a resounding 123-101 win.
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LeBron James & Anthony Davis Dominate in Lakers’ Preseason Win over Warriors
The key components of the Lakers’ early success were superstars, LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Davis, in particular, game out of the gates red-hot for the Lakers and threw down five dunks to go with 17 points and seven rebounds in the first quarter alone. James and Davis showed off strong chemistry on the court with James piling up the assists to his new toy.
While both players had their minutes heavily limited (due to it being the first game of the preseason) they ended with impressive stat lines of 22/10/2 (Davis) and 15/3/8 (James).
The presence of Davis on the court helped take a visible load off LeBron’s shoulders. Whereas last season he was forced to repeatedly create for himself (which ended in a larger number of stepback jumpers), James now has an elite scoring option to dump the ball off to should he penetrate to the rim and get shut down by the defense.
Aside from James and Davis, the Lakers got extremely strong performances from bench players Alex Caruso and Troy Daniels. Daniels, brought on for his shooting ability, torched the Warriors’ second unit to the tune of 14 points while Alex Caruso chipped in a well-rounded 10/3/6 as the floor general.
Avery Bradley Draws First Preseason Start
While most of the Lakers’ starting lineup has seemingly been in place since free agency, the point guard position has been consistently up for debate. However, Avery Bradley has stood out so far in camp and the formerly elite perimeter defender seems to have found his footing once again. Drawing the start, Bradley harrassed Steph Curry and from a defensive standpoint, was a large reason as to why the Warriors got off to such a sluggish start. Bradley didn’t shoot the ball all too well against the Warriors, though his defensive presence undoubtedly outweighed his contributions on that end of the floor.
The addition of Bradley to the starting lineup gives the Lakers one of the most fearsome defensive units in the league. With NBA All-Defensive players at four out of the five starting spots, the Lakers offer opposing offenses an incredibly difficult matchup. Anchored by former defensive player of the year Anthony Davis, the Laker defense (and Bradley) has the ability to gamble for turnovers more on the perimeter, something that was evident early on tonight.
It remains to be seen if Vogel intends to tweak with the starting unit after such a strong showing but either way, Avery Bradley has seemingly cemented a healthy role on the 2019-2020 Lakers.