For the past couple of years in Laker Land their hasn’t been much to be hyped about. Kobe only played 35 games last season before going down with a torn labrum. Julius Randle only played 14 minutes before breaking his leg. Not to mention the season before that Kobe sustained another season ending injury. Throw that on top of having the two worst seasons in franchise history back to back, I think it’s safe to say we’re all more than happy for a new season, a fresh start.
That fresh start is being lead by Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, and newly added D’Angelo Russell; three young studs who have tremendous work ethic, determination and want to take the NBA by storm in the up and coming years.
The young trio constantly receives praise for their hard work, how receptive they are and how hungry they are. While D’Angelo Russell has struggled with some minor injures which has shorted his playing time, Randle and Clarkson have been displaying night in and night out how bad they want this. Randle has seemingly been scoring at will all preseason, blowing by every big man that tries to press him, locking in defensively and just staying hungry.
“I see where I want to be, I know how hard I have to work, and I have a great example in Kobe and his leadership. I’m just self-driven, and I’ve always been that way since I was a kid,” Randle said after last night’s impressive performance vs Golden State. At one point in the game Randle blew by Draymond Green, went up with his right and almost completed an and 1. After the move Julius appeared to be saying, “he can’t guard me. He cannot guard me” in reference to Warriors’ forward Draymond Green. With that work ethic, determination, chip on his shoulder and newly found confidence, Julius Randle is really living up to Roy Hibbert declaring him “the future of the NBA.” Having 14 points in 12 minutes going against a guy who finished second in DPOY voting last year was a tremendous confidence boost for Randle, and gave us fans a reason to smile.
Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell have also given many Laker fans reasons to be optimistic about the backcourt and how the duo will work. Many believe Russell’s pass-first mentality and Clarkson’s aggressiveness will compliment each other well. Russell showed us just how great of a passer he can be vs Maccabi Haifa when he dished out 11 assists in only 18 minutes of play. A number of those passes seemed really, really difficult but Russell threw them like they were second nature. Although he’s been limited, Russell has shown positive signs and glimpses when in the game. He didn’t do much to show up on the stat sheet last night vs Golden State, but he played solid defense, got out and pushed the tempo at times, he was aggressive on offense and got people the ball in spots where they can score.
The Lakers have found a young trio who can potentially be great in the years to come. The work ethic is there, the determination is there, they’ve been highly receptive to teaching and most importantly they’re hungry. Hungry to learn, hungry to get better, hungry to prove the league wrong. In ten days the lights come on and games start to have meaning, and although many don’t expect L.A. to be a playoff team, we’re excited to see the future of the franchise start their journey together. Having Randle, Clarkson, and Russell has Lakers fans hopeful about the future, as they should be.