The NBA season is finally (kind of) here! After a long offseason, fans will now be able to see how moves made by the Lakers will translate on the court.
The Lakers face the familiar Sacramento Kings on Tuesday at 7PM PST on Spectrum Sportsnet. The game will be played in Anaheim at the Honda Center.
The Lakers have several questions heading into the regular season. The chief among them is who will earn the 15th and final spot on the roster. That spot is currently a six-man battle between Nick Young, Thomas Robinson, Zach Auguste, Travis Wear, Julian Jacobs, and Metta World Peace. Of course, this is assuming that Yi Jianlian will have a spot on the main roster, which seems like a probable assumption at this point.
More important than the roster battle between teammates, however, will be the new look of the Lakers. Tuesday marks the first time the team will play under new head coach Luke Walton and his staff. All summer, there has been nothing but glowing praise from the players towards their new coach. Now, we get the chance to see whether it has paid any dividends on the court.
The new coaching and system should be most evident in the play of D’Angelo Russell. Having gone through a fairly tumultuous rookie year, Russell will surely be out to prove his worth as an NBA player and potential star. Tuesday will give us a glimpse of how the former second overall pick has improved in one summer under Walton.
The Kings, meanwhile, will be under new leadership, as well. Under head coach Dave Joerger, Sacramento will look to rebound from a controversial and disappointing season (scheduled tweet).
They will be led, as usual, by DeMarcus Cousins. The center is arguably the best at his position in the league and has routinely given the Lakers trouble in the past, averaging 19 points and 11 rebounds against them. Timofey Mozgov, one of the Lakers’ big acquisitions this summer, will be tasked with the difficult job of slowing him down.
Sacramento is not very strong in the backcourt. They will be playing some combination of Darren Collison (who will be suspended for the first eight regular season games), Garrett Temple, Arron Afflalo, rookie Malachi Richardson, and former Lakers great Jordan Farmar. The Lakers’ starting backcourt of Russell and Jordan Clarkson should be able to have some success against the Kings.
There’s no word on how much the starters and key role players will play tonight. Walton may want more time to watch the few players fighting for a spot or he may want to view how the bulk of the regular season team is playing.
Game one of the preseason rarely gives us a lot to base real, tangible basketball opinions on, but enough should happen to help answer a few of the burning training camp questions.
The most important thing, of course, is that basketball is back.