Darius Soriano has high hopes for Lakers rookie Brandon Ingram (pictured), who figures to see his role increase as Luke Walton focuses on his team’s young core (Zach Frailey/Flickr).
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The Los Angeles Lakers have a new president of basketball operations and general manager, as first-year head coach Luke Walton leads a youthful squad headlined by lottery picks from the past three drafts, Brandon Ingram, D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle. At this critical juncture for the team, Forum Blue & Gold Editor-in-Chief Darius Soriano stops by to break down the biggest storylines for LA’s present and future.
2:44-3:43: Sadly, the biggest Lakers-related news this season happened off the court with last week’s management shakeup:
“The writing was sort of on the wall once Magic [Johnson] was hired as an adviser to Jeanie Buss…The timing of it, though, was awkward and just the way it was handled, I thought, was rough for everyone involved…I’m sort of intrigued by the [Rob] Pelinka aspect, and I think the Magic Johnson thing – I don’t want to say ‘cautiously optimistic.’ I’m more along the lines of ‘I’m just sort of hanging back and waiting to see how things go.’ Magic’s very well respected in the business world, and obviously he was an amazing player. We’ll see how all of that translates that to a final decision-maker on the basketball side [for the Lakers].”
In the debut of On the NBA Beat’s biweekly (the every-other-week kind) NBA power rankings feature, Doc Rivers’ Los Angeles Clippers lead the field, four Eastern Conference teams rank in the top seven spots, Los Angeles’ other team cracks the top half, the “no-longer-tanking” 76ers occupy the last spot, and so much more.
Our three panelists, Loren Lee Chen, Aaron Fischman and Joshua Fischman, independently ranked the league’s 30 teams from top to bottom. Their averaged rankings produced this 1-30 list and took into account all NBA regular-season games up until and including Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. Therefore, the results of Thursday’s four games will not be reflected in these rankings, but the blurbs and team records will be completely up-to-date. Future editions will also include each team’s net change from the previous rankings.
Kevin Garnett and the Timberwolves are off to a surprising start this season. (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
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On the heels of the Lakers-focused interview with Rey Moralde, the guys delve further into how Los Angeles can best develop its highly touted young players and how important it will be for the Lakers to re-sign Jordan Clarkson. In the final segment, the A-A-Ron Block, the Minnesota Timberwolves are used as a prime example of a team that has fairly seamlessly integrated young talent, an area where Byron Scott has struggled thus far. Aging veterans, such as Kevin Garnett and Tayshaun Prince, have taken on a diminished but important role both on the off the court, whereas Kobe Bryant’s shot-happy ways appear to be stunting the growth of promising players like D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle. In recent games, Scott has started to give Russell more freedom to make mistakes and grow…and your hosts certainly hope that continues.
Music: “Who Likes to Party?” by Kevin MacLeod
Rey Moralde (bottom left) interviewing Lakers rookie DeAngelo Russell (Credit: Lakers.com)
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This season’s Los Angeles Lakers are being talked about for mostly unfortunate reasons. One of the best players of all time, Kobe Bean Bryant, will retire upon season’s end and is undoubtedly playing the worst individual basketball of his career. The team is just as bad, beginning with a 3-18 record that includes a loss to the now 1-21 76ers in Bryant’s underwhelming homecoming. But while there’s certainly ample room for doom and gloom on the episode, Rey-Rey is Fundamental‘s Rey Moralde talks about some of the more positive aspects of the current Lakers, such as their exciting young core, led by Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle and potentially D’Angelo Russell. Rey speaks glowingly about those guys, as well as less glowingly on the disappointing close to Bryant’s career and how poor of a job he believes Byron Scott is doing with this unit. Here are some highlights:
5:20-5:30: “It’s hard to watch, but for Kobe, he’ll just retire firing basically, like he’s just done his entire career.”
13:50-14:20: On the framework already in place and projecting the franchise’s future: “As much as there’s doom and gloom with the Lakers, they do have a few players that have potential in Russell, Randle and possibly Clarkson, if he stays, because I don’t know if someone else will scoop him up. But if they have those three, they add another one from the draft and they can Byron…if they get a young coach…and have him grow along with those four potential players, I think they could have something there.”
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Andre Drummond’s improvement has been key to the surprising Pistons (Erik Drost/Creative Commons)
On today’s episode, the A-A-Ron Block is devoted to continued discussion of the Chicago Bulls. This intriguing-yet-perplexing team has defeated the Cavaliers and Thunder, while also surrendering 130 points to the Hornets. Its starting point guard is an enigma, too, going three straight games with single-digit scoring before erupting for 29 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds against the Thunder Thursday. Following Derrick Rose’s strong individual performance, the guys debate the validity of the latest trade rumors swirling around him. They also touch on frontcourt rotations, the pros and cons of starting Doug McDermott and more.
Later, LLC Incorporated breaks down the best rookies so far — Karl-Anthony Towns is the twins’ consensus pick — and the league’s most pleasant surprises and early disappointments. While the Blazers and Pistons have impressed Aaron so far, Joshua is particularly irked by the Grizzlies’ sluggish start. Finally, who’s currently the worst team in the league? The guys disagree.
Music: “Who Likes To Party” by Kevin MacLeod