It’s finally over! That was not the dream start for Lonzo Ball and the Los Angeles Lakers that fans imagined. The Clippers absolutely demolished from start to finish as Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan started the post-Chris Paul era with a huge win over their crosscourt rivals.
Ball had a rough debut against Patrick Beverly, Brandon Ingram was colder than a shoulder that I would receive from girls I try to initiate conversation with, and the defense was nowhere to be found. Unfortunately I watched that entire game and here are some of the things that I picked up.
Deng at the 3 is not fun
After a full year of coaching, Luke Walton has shown his penchant for keeping lineups constant. He has a starting lineup and a bench unit. In a way to deal with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s suspension and Josh Hart’s injury, the Lakers’ starting lineup was missing a small forward.
“Hey Kuzma can play the 3” some may say, but dear friend, Luke will not take him out of that bench unit. Enter Luol Deng. With Deng and Larry Nance Jr. operating as the starting forwards and Ingram at the 2, this starting unit showed how good Deng is at the 3 position (he’s not). The inflexibility of Luke Walton can be a source of the Lakers’ detriment especially when injuries or suspensions happen.
Bad night for the starters
Well, everyone had a bad night, but especially the starters. An absolute stinker by the starters from the field. Everyone knew the Lakers wouldn’t exactly be world beaters but if you told me this team would at one point be down by 30 to a Clippers team without Paul, I’d call you a liar and note how your pants are in flames.
Ingram continued to struggle from the field shooting (3-15 shooting, 12 points), Brook Lopez looked horrendous despite dropping 20 points, and Lonzo had one made basket with Patrick Beverly making his debut a living hell.
Nance is the only Laker to finish with a shooting percentage over 50 percent but if you watched the game, his box score did not indicate how poor his play was. He was unwilling to take shots that were not within three feet of the basket despite being open and there was an instance where he couldn’t pick the right pass on a fast break.
He’s athletic and can dunk. That’s fun, but he hasn’t done much to actively help the team. Deng did not do much to impress in the starting lineup as his scoring came from a fast break layup and that’s it. The starting lineup finished with a plus-minus of negative seven in 13 minutes.
The numbers are not as telling as it should be as it took Clarkson’s 11 first-half points to keep the Lakers in the game for the first 24 minutes.
Luke’s coaching woes
Last year was the first time that Walton had the reigns given to him and Laker fans expected him to bring what he brought to that Golden State Warrior team that started 24-1.
Sure last year was mired with growing pains and his team eventually finished with 26 wins but there needs to be improvement shown as time goes on.
Today we did not see much of anything good. There was no plan on offense, no semblance of defense, Brewer and Deng were getting minutes in the year 2017. The lineups left a lot to be desired as well.
This is just game one of 82, so let’s not freak out about it, but we should wary of Walton and if he can show improvement and growth as a coach.
I miss D’Angelo Russell
(Just assume this for everything. Editor, don’t count this as one of the 3.)
Lakers play the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Arena, Friday October 20th at 7PM (PST)