There is no question that the Lakers stunk last year. They were unbearable to watch and love. They turned the beautiful game of basketball into something so abysmal and destructive that had every fan crying for mercy. It was a struggle to find any sort of motivation to watch them play, but there was one huge magnetic force that kept us fans paying attention to the TV screen: the youth of the Lakers. We saw glimpses of potential. We envisioned future greatness for these young Lakers. We knew that these kids will be special someday.
The Lakers’ young core comprised of D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle and Larry Nance, Jr. gave us a renewed sense of hope and optimism. The hopefulness that these players brought was exponentially magnified when the Lakers signed Luke Walton and received the second overall pick in this year’s draft. The Lakers will enter next season with essentially five outstanding young players, three of which were lottery picks and a young coach that will be eager to lead this franchise back to the promise land. I believe that the Lakers’ young core will be a force to be feared for years to come. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at them for yourself, starting with Russell.
D’Angelo Russell 2015-2016 highlights
When you look at the Lakers’ youth, Russell stands out the most. He has the most superstar potential and he is only 20 years old. Russell’s per 36 numbers are impressive at 16.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists. He played in an offense that held him back and still found a way to put up decent numbers. He had an up and down season, but the potential he displayed was special. Russell is not satisfied with his performance last year so he finds himself in the gym every single day working out on his craft and strength. Take a look at his highlights from last year:
Keep in mind that Russell was on the bench for most of the season. He took his game to another notch when he was fully unleashed and reclaimed his starting position. If you thought the first video was good, check out this one.
Jordan Clarkson 2015-2016 highlights
Jordan Clarkson will enter his third season in the NBA at the age of 24. Clarkson, the former second round pick at 46th overall proved to be one of the most surprising and successful players in the 2014 draft class. Clarkson played 79 games last year and he started every single one. Clarkson’s per 36 numbers are exciting for a second round draft pick at 17.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists. Clarkson still has a lot to improve on, especially with his defense. He did mention in his exit interview that he will focus on improving his defense in the offseason. Clarkson will be a restricted free agent this summer, but he has high hopes that he will return to the Lakers. There is no reason for the Lakers to let a great talent go. Enjoy his highlights from last season.
Julius Randle 2015-2016 highlights
Julius Randle played all but one game last season after suffering a season-ending injury in the 2014 season opener. Randle was impressive in his first full season last year. The dude was a double-double machine; seriously, he averaged 11.3 points and 10.2 rebounds. Randle is a force on the glass, but what separates him from other rebounders is his ability to handle the ball in transition and make plays for others or himself. He can start a fast break on his own, which could be a tremendous luxury for Los Angeles. Randle needs to improve his jump shot and defense, but he can easily play the Draymond Green role for the Lakers under Walton in due time. Check out his bruising highlights:
Larry Nance, Jr. 2015-2016 highlights
A lot of casual fans exclude Nance, Jr. as part of the outstanding Laker young core. I think he belongs in the discussion as a key component for the Lakers’ future. Nance made our jaws drop and heads explode from his crazy dunks all season long, but what surprised a lot of us is his ability to hit the mid-range shot. Nance is athletic and long enough to play either the four or the five. I can imagine Luke playing him a lot at the center position when they decide to play small ball. Here are some of his amazing dunks. (NSFW for the people he dunked on though)
Brandon Ingram 2015-2106 highlights (Duke)
We’re less than a week away from the draft, but it seems clear that the 76ers will select Ben Simmons with the first overall pick, leaving Ingram to the Lakers. Ingram will be a perfect fit for Los Angeles. He can do almost everything offensively and he is certainly long enough to be a nuisance of the defensive end. Ingram averaged 17.3 points and 6.8 rebounds at Duke. If you want to see how well he will fit with the Lakers, take a look at this extensive and helpful analysis of his game. It’s okay to drool.
The Lakers will enter next season with five outstanding young players with the total average age of just 21 years old. I don’t remember the last time the Lakers had this much young talent on one roster. The future for the Lakers is bright with this young core leading them for years to come. They will be a force to be reckoned with, the NBA better watch out.