Over the Los Angeles Lakers‘ history, they’ve been able to attract the best talent in the NBA. Team legends like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Shaquille O’Neal, Pau Gasol and more came to the team after having a lot of success elsewhere. The Lakers brand is very strong and players like to play for them.
However, it has led to the team doing a poor job of developing homegrown talent over the years. Not a single player in the Lakers’ usual starting five was drafted by the team. A lot of that is because they traded away all of their best homegrown talent in the Anthony Davis trade. However, Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd thinks it goes deeper than that. He bashed Los Angeles for not developing young players.
“We know the Celtics and the Heat are well run and develop players,” Cowherd said. “Denver does too but they don’t have a history of it. The one team that doesn’t is the Lakers and I’ll give you an example. Brandon Ingram leaves the Lakers and an hour later, he pops. D’Angelo Russell leaves the Lakers, becomes an All-Star.”
Cowherd Believes Kyle Kuzma Is ‘Getting Worse’
While there is an argument to be made that the Lakers aren’t great at developing young talent, it’s hard to argue that they haven’t drafted really well. Most of their recent first-round picks have carved out nice careers for themselves. Kyle Kuzma is one of the few homegrown guys who has a key role on the team but Cowherd thinks the Lakers are actually hurting him.
“Kyle Kuzma is getting worse,” Cowherd said. “When’s the last like good player the Lakers developed? … It’s Andrew Bynum. Remember him? Not really. He was good very briefly and then fizzled.”
It’s not necessarily that Kuzma is getting worse, he’s just having a hard time finding a role with this team. Cowherd does bring up some valid points but there are holes in his argument.
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If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It
First of all, the Brandon Ingram criticism isn’t really fair. He started showing his All-Star potential with the Lakers last season but his season ended early due to injury. Had the team not sent him as part of the Antony Davis trade, there’s reason to believe he’d be playing at a high level with the Lakers right now.
The same could be said for any of the players Cowherd mentioned. As young players gain more experience, they tend to start to play better. Had Russell or Ingram stuck around, they could’ve reached their All-Star potential in Los Angeles.
Also, Cowherd is using the lack of homegrown talent on the Lakers roster as a criticism but it doesn’t really hold weight. They finished the season with the best record in the Western Conference and are a couple of wins away from getting to the NBA Finals. The Lakers have won 16 championships and a number of those came from favoring to bring in proven stars over homegrown talent. Sure, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson and Jerry West were all homegrown talents but none of those guys would’ve won titles had it not been for outside help.