The Lakers kick off their 57th season in Los Angeles against their crosscourt rivals, the Clippers, tonight on TNT. This looks to be the start of the Lonzo Ball era as the much-hyped SoCal native stated during Monday’s practice that he’s “playing for sure” after suffering an ankle injury in the preseason.
The Lakers had their troubles last year against the Clippers winning only one out of the four matchups. The teams that faced each other last season were a lot different than what we will be seeing on Thursday night.
The Lakers have their newest center in Brook Lopez to go alongside Ball. With the departure of Chris Paul, the Clippers have added the likes of Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Danilo Gallinari and Sam Dekker from Houston, and added their own rookie point guard in 30-year-old Serbian sensation Milos Teodosic.
Following a two-win and four-loss preseason, the Lakers are hoping to get a glimpse at what a healthy Ball can do to help bring the team back to prominence. The addition of the aforementioned Lopez and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (albeit suspended the first two games) should be boosts to the team, as well. Last but not least, rookie Kyle Kuzma will finally get his first minutes in the regular season to show that his scoring is anything but a fluke.
THINGS TO WATCH FOR
- Patrick Beverly v. Lonzo Ball: Patrick Beverly is known as one of the elite perimeter defenders. With Lonzo’s first night as a Laker going up against Patrick Beverly, it certainly will not be an easy matchup for the rookie.
- Lineup Shuffle: With Kentavious Caldwell-Pope suspended the first two games, and a slew of injuries suffered in the past few days, Luke may have to get creative with how he lines up his starting 5 and whether or not he wants to keep his bench unit intact. Expect to see Luol Deng and Corey Brewer get more minutes and don’t be surprised if Kyle Kuzma gets the start with Brandon Ingram shifting to the 2 position.
- Julius as Sixth Man: Ramona Shelburne recently said that although the Lakers like Randle in any role they “love the idea of him dominating second units”. As talented as Julius Randle is, this could mean he could be the new anchor of the bench mob, in the somewhat reminiscent role of a Lamar Odom type. As a lottery pick, this may be something that Julius doesn’t want, considering he’s arguably better than Larry Nance Jr. We will see this unfold in game one and see how he handles coming off of the bench.
- Julius Randle: Back spasms, Probable
- Josh Hart: Achilles bursitis, Questionable
WHERE TO WATCH
Lakers vs. Clippers
Thursday October 19, 7:30 PM (PST), TNT