The Los Angeles Lakers may be undergoing huge changes in the front office, soon. But despite concern over Magic Johnson’s hiring and subsequent remarks about his future role in the franchise, the team’s main issue was finding some form of consistency on the court.
After a strong showing to beat the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, the Lakers suffered a disappointing loss at the hands of the Detroit Pistons. They will look to get back on track on the road against the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday at 5:00 PM PST on Spectrum SportsNet.
The main story heading into the game will be the matchup between Lakers’ rookie Brandon Ingram and Bucks point-forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. The latter has always been a high-potential player in the NBA but has really put it all together this season, leading the Bucks in nearly every statistical category.
Antetokounmpo’s emergence as a superstar in Milwaukee has many wondering about how Ingram can be used. Luke Walton hasn’t shied away from allowing the rookie forward to handle the ball and initiate the offense. While nowhere near Giannis’ current ability, Ingram has shown plenty of promise in that role as well as showing some ability as a versatile defender with his length. That has led to direct comparisons to the Greek Freak; that’s surely premature but if one squints, the raw template of a Giannis-like player exists.
The Lakers received an unfortunate stroke of luck ahead of this game. Jabari Parker, the Bucks’ second-best player all year, tore his ACL last week and will miss the rest of the season. The team has also recently been reeling, having won only two of their last ten games and falling out of the playoff picture in the East for the time being.
The Bucks do, however, have Khris Middleton back from his hamstring tear. The shooting guard was Milwaukee’s best player last season as an elite three-and-d wing player. He appears to be under a minutes restriction, having played only 15 minutes in his season debut.
The Bucks love to get the ball in the paint, shooting the sixth fewest threes per game despite making them at the eighth highest mark. The Lakers’ bigs (namely the starting duo of Julius Randle and Tarik Black) will be the key to the game as the interior rim protectors. They have not often been up to the task, but a win against Milwaukee likely hinges on their ability to get some stops. Randle will also have the ability to go off against rookie Thon Maker, something he should take advantage of.