The Lakers have been the laughing stock of the NBA for quite some time. Whether it was blowout losses, coaches mindsets still the 80's, to management lying about their future plans to praised officials (just ask Jerry West sometime on how he feels about the organization), it just seemed like a train wrecked that continued to sink to the Pacific Ocean and didn't look like it could be salvaged. Not until this past offseason where Lakers fans started to look up to the rafters instead of turning heads to exit doors and reality.
The preseason isn't something to look at, but the Tinseltown ringers looked sloppy, with an average of 10+ turnovers and an offense looking stagnated at times. Whether it's Julius Randle not rolling to the hoop, or Jordan Clarkson missing the skip pass for an open three, the team has had some slow starts.
The defense is there from time to time but could be better of course, and player rotations aren't set so 14 guys see the floor most nights. During some points of the game, you wonder if the red-haired, George Jefferson-hairstyle man is ready to squirt water in your face as act.
But yet, Laker fans have found a way to look past that and watch their youth grow. The Lakers are 2-3 to start the season, with both wins, Atlanta and Houston, are early projected playoff teams. They have been in every game, with the exception of the last two or three minutes of those 3 losses, fighting and clawing at every opportunity to sneak a win away from a favored team.
Of course, growing pains are a thing with younger teams, but it's been exciting to watch. Players are cutting and moving without the ball, passing the ball side to side. Defense is being played and preached with enthusiasm and emphasis. Veterans and rooks want to be a part of the change and don't hang their head below their shoulders when a mistake is made. In large part, much of this change of habits is due to Luke Walton's coaching and philosophy to play for one another, which has trickled down to every player on the roster.
Only for the Lakers Fans
Lakers fans have something to cheer for and know for certain what they're getting this season. Russell is starting to take that leadership role like he said he wanted to become, being a leading scorer most nights and being a more polished point guard. Jordan has accepted being that first guy off the bench tremendously, being a scrappy defender and a good option for the offense for the second unit. Julius and Nance Jr. look consistent to start off the season, rebounding and defending at the rim. That only brings a "tbw"(to be witnessed... catchy yeah?) to Brandon Ingram, who you can see growing with each game quickly despite his limited playing time to start off the season.
The youngsters first real test will be Friday night against their Pacific Division rivals, the Golden State Warriors. In many cases, this is where the Lakers want to be in 3 or so years; competing for championships through the draft and key free agent signings (oh, and get a Kevin Durant along the way). This is first of many tests to see if management is stepping in the right direction.
This is the first time (besides Kobe dropping 60 on some young bloods from Utah) where there is something to talk about, something that is going to be a positive outcome. Lakers fans have no choice to but to cheer for these kids. They may be young and have most certainly looked like it these first 5 games, but the players, fans, management, and coaches seem to finally be all in this together.