The Los Angeles Lakers are in much better shape this offseason than last one.
The Lakers roster looked alright before last season, but not as good as right now. Plus, they soon lost Steve Nash and Julius Randle to injuries, while right now everyone is healthy.
L.A. will get Randle back, Jordan Clarkson will be in his second year, Kobe Bryant says he’s feeling good, they picked up D’Angelo Russell in the draft, and management added Brandon Bass, Roy Hibbert, and Lou Williams through trades and free agency.
Kobe even says the Lakers have a shot of making the playoffs, a possibility bolstered by the recent Dante Exum injury and Markieff Morris‘ displeasure with the Suns.
Scouts Comment on Russell
The Lakers surprised some by passing on Jahlil Okafor, but they thought Russell was the better prospect.
Unfortunately, some fans have gotten restless considering the rookie’s uneven performance in the summer league.
Scouts, though, told Bleacher Report that he just needs time.
“Russell will get there. He can be good, but they have to be patient with him,” said one scout with an independent firm.
“I think he’s surprised with the physicality and the aggressiveness that NBA guys are going to trap those pick-and-rolls,” added a front office executive. “I think he has to learn where the coverages are coming from, and he also has to make his decision and turn that corner with a little more passion to make plays.”
Another scout noted that Russell is tremendous in the open court in transition, but needs to improve in his half-court play.
Bass Looks Forward to Season
Bass started almost every game for the Boston Celtics last season, and is expected to start for the Lakers while providing some mentorship for Randle.
“It’s quite a challenge but I felt like we’ve got enough players right now with the signing of Lou Williams, the trade for Roy Hibbert and then myself and we have arguably the best player in the game still,” Bass told NOLA.com.
“When he is healthy he is a monster still. If he is healthy he’s right up there with the best players in the league, that’s LeBron or whoever the best players in the league are.:
Bass said he believes Kobe is still elite, “when healthy.”
He also noted the difference he sees between Boston and L.A., saying the former is focused on developing players but the latter is focused on winning.
“I think they are trying to win by any means necessary. It ain’t about rebuilding, it ain’t about nothing else but winning by any means necessary,” Bass said.
“When you are trying to win you need someone who is going to give it his all every possession, someone who is going to work on his game day in and day out, someone who wants to be great, is never going to lay down under no circumstances.”
Kobe Talks Playoffs, Health
Kobe popped up in a phone interview with Yahoo recently, talking about the upcoming season and his health.
He first said he wouldn’t decide on retirement until after the season, then said he’s feeling good.
“My lower body is solid. There are no question marks on what I can do. My body and my legs feel extremely strong and healthy. That’s the big difference,” he said.
“My upper body, I’ve been doing the weights and stuff like that. I’ve been kind of building up the upper body strength. The biggest change is I feel very, very solid in my legs.”
He also said that the Lakers can make the playoffs.
“Absolutely. We have talented players in their respective positions. We have some really young players. How exactly will the pieces of the puzzle fit? We really don’t know,” he noted.
“We are going to [training] camp trying to piece this together just like every other team does. We have to figure out what our strengths are, figure out what our weaknesses are. And every time we step on the court we are going to try to hide our weaknesses and step up to our strengths.”