The 72nd season of the National Basketball Association has officially kicked off. That’s right boys and girls basketball is back. Across the league, many blockbuster trades, free agent signings, and changes in coaching have occurred over the summer. Now is the time to see if it all pans out. The legendary Laker organization has redesigned their team with a blend of youthful talent and elderly experience. The addition of superstar LeBron James has immediately made them a playoff team but the influx of veterans like Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo, and Michael Beasley is what will take them to the next level. Every great team in history has two things in common, an identity and a team culture. For an example, the Boston Celtics in the 1980s, their identity was “blue collar, fundamental basketball” and their team culture was centered around hard work and discipline. The Spurs team throughout the decade of the 2000s were identified as the “share the ball, international team” and their culture centered around essentially who they were as people and putting everything aside to win a championship. Both these teams did very well for themselves and I can guarantee you that this Laker team will be up there with the greatest teams of the modern era.
What is obvious is the number of young ballplayers this club has. Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and Ivica Zubac are the hungry and inexperienced young men who will thrive on this team. They provide the fresh legs that this group will need in their quest for the Larry O’Brien trophy. Throughout last year we saw the dynamic passing, scoring, and defense that these players possess and combining it with the veterans will prove a deadly combination. Identifying as a “flashy and lovable” team and having their culture set on sacrificing for each other, the Lakers are on their way to competing with the best of the best. Moving on to the elders. Rajon Rondo is if not the most then one of the most important veterans on this team. Not only will he contribute on the court as a facilitator of their high paced offense and as a formidable defender, but his dedication to the game off the court will most definitely show. He is known for being a brash and “uncoachable” player but that is simply not the case. Rondo’s film philosophy and obsession over perfecting the team’s game as a whole is what pushes him over the edge and leads to a falling out with the coach and possibly the team. However, on a team with LeBron James and a more than competent coaching staff and management, where his unorthodox methods will be valued, there will be no falling outs. Rondo says, “The way they play the game, their willingness to learn. I was telling LeBron the other day, we were on the plane and I’ve never seen damn near 12 guys watching film as a team. … It was very refreshing to see, understanding this team is committed.” Lance Stephenson and Michael Beasley will serve as key players in the bench unit and will dish out a guaranteed 10-12 points every night. JaVale McGee might just be the best thing that this team needs, a person who knows the Warriors from the inside. His low post presence and knowledge of the Golden State way will prove valuable in both the regular and postseason.