Aloha! The Lakers are finally here in Hawaii to begin their 2015-16 preseason campaign. Their first game will be this Sunday against the Utah Jazz at the Stan Sheriff Center at 3:00 pm Hawaii time, which I will have the privilege of attending, and will be posting pictures and vines for you guys. There is a lot of excitement in the air with the right mixture of questions heading into Sunday’s game; and one thing for certain is that we can’t wait for the Lakers to start playing again. Here are the preview and questions to look forward to before the preseason opener.
Don’t expect Kobe Bryant to play a lot of minutes:
It seems like a no-brainer to limit the 37-year old Bryant’s minutes in a preseason game, but it has been almost a decade since the fans in Hawaii last saw Kobe. Kobe has been adamant in his career that he wants to put on a show of the fans, especially for those who don’t have the privilege of living in Los Angeles (Editor’s Note: Hawaii is not bad either). Kobe and the Lakers are loved here in Hawaii; tickets for Sunday and Tuesday’s game against the Jazz are sold out. I’m not sure if any team in the NBA would have two sold out games for the preseason in Hawaii. Part of me wants to see Kobe play as much as possible, and the other part not so much. I’d rather see him compete at a higher level when the games count. This could as well be Kobe’s last time playing in Hawaii, but whether it is one minute or 15, any time he is on the floor would be special for me. Maybe he could put on a show here and there like this dunk in the Lakers’ training camp scrimmage.
Expect D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle to have a lot of playing time, together:
This is the core group that the Lakers hope to have for years to come, so it is important to put them in basketball situations together so they can build early chemistry. The good news is it seems like the backcourt duo of Russell and Clarkson are gelling just fine. Earlier in the week, Byron Scott seemed to favor the nucleus of the Lakers young core playing together. If Scott chooses to use this group to surround Kobe, expect Bryant’s work load to be reduced significantly. During one the recent scrimmages, Kobe admittedly said that he doesn’t have to be ball-dominant with Clarkson and Russell on the court with him, which was music to my ears. To have Kobe trust his young teammates is huge for their confidence. This group will be fun and athletic, and quite honestly this is undoubtedly their best line up. Hopefully we can see more plays like this on Sunday.
Who will be the first five off the bench?
The Lakers currently have 19 players on their roster, and they can only keep 15 of them heading into the regular season. Playing time will be scarce for some players, so it will be interesting to see who will be the first unit playing together off the bench. Some regulars off the bench would be probably include the gunslingers duo of Nick Young and Lou Williams, besides both players, it is uncertain on who else will be playing with them. Maybe we get to see some of the team’s recent signings like Metta World Peace and Robert Upshaw get some extended playing time?
Will D’Angelo Russell be fully healthy?
During practice on Thursday, Russell suffered a minor injury on his foot. It was just a “minor” bone bruise, but they should still monitor him carefully. Personally, I am not too worried about his injury after reading an article by newest Lakers Outsider member, Kyle Hartwick, where he explained why everyone should take a deep breath about Russell’s injury. Russell also participated in the second practice that night after the minor injury, and is also expected to play on Sunday. Russell has looked good so far in camp, showing his poise and sweet jump shot. Russell requested to have his locker next to Kobe Bryant, and it seemed that Kobe has already developed a good relationship with the young rookie.
Other players to look for:
If he plays, expect Metta World Peace to look rusty on offense, but still bring great intensity of defense. Metta has not been scrimmaging lately because of a sore calf, and although, Peace had played basketball overseas, it has been a few years since he suited up for an NBA team. The Lakers were impressed enough with him to offer him a one-year non-guaranteed contract, let’s see how much basketball Metta has left in the tank. I’m interested to see how Marcelo Huertas’s experience and Robert Upshaw’s athleticism will do against NBA level competition. I’m also excited to see how Roy Hibbert’s presence will help the Lakers on the defensive end, something that they really struggled at last year. Hopefully, they all can play well.
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I will be attending the game on Sunday, and will be there hours before the game starts. I will be posting pictures and vines of the players during their pregame shooting and warm ups! So be sure to follow me and Lakers Outsiders for plenty of in game coverage, as well as the first Outsiders postgame show of the 2015-16 season.