The Los Angeles Lakers finally pulled the trigger on a franchise-altering trade on Saturday. The move brought Anthony Davis, a generational talent with immense productivity at just 26 years old, to Los Angeles, pairing him with LeBron James. Putting it in those terms makes the deal a no brainer.
But as with most trades, there is a level of bittersweetness that arises from this one. Yes, Lakers fans should be excited about the potential of a James and Davis partnership. They should also be excited about likely re-signing Davis to a long-term deal and making him the face of the franchise long after James is gone.
But it’s also okay to feel a little remorse and sadness about the players sent away to get Davis. Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart all showed immense potential and moments of brilliance. Ultimately, their timelines did not match James’ or the Lakers’ but their time with the Lakers can be remembered fondly despite the organization’s lack of success during that time.
So, as the Lakers look to turn a page on their franchise history with yet another superstar duo, let’s remember some of the most memorable moments from Ball, Ingram and Hart.
By the start of the 2018-19 season, Ingram was the longest tenured Laker on the roster. While the road to get there was rocky, Ingram continuously captivated us with his potential, his length and his Instagram captions. Ingram’s rookie season had many nervous about his production but by the end of his third season, the forward was already showing why patience was paying off as he looked to be a star in the making, earning LeBron’s trust and playing his best basketball in the face of adversity and trade rumors.
Who could forget BI’s thunderous dunk over Cheick Diallo his rookie year in a game that made all of the Duke product’s early struggles worth it?
Or the game-winner against the 76ers off a smart feed from Ball that showcased both of their winning mentalities:
How about Ingram not backing down against anyone, including the Golden State Warriors, and performing at his best when the odds were against him.
In a perfect encapsulation of everything that makes Ingram great, the young forward secured a massive win for his team purely through his engulfing length:
And finally, what about his strong run of play before injuries ended his final season with the Lakers. That run, starting at the new year, included six of Ingram’s seven highest scoring games in his young career, including an all-around showing against the defensive juggernaut Milwaukee Bucks.
One of many examples of the Lakers’ ability to find gems late in the draft, Hart outplayed his expectations almost immediately. Whether it was on the court as a 3-and-D prototype or off the court with his unhealthy obsession with Chipotle, Hart never ceased to entertain the masses.
Hart became a fan favorite from the start with his incredible post defense, giving bigger players all they could handle any time they thought they had found a mismatch to take advantage of.
In fact, dominating inside among the trees became Hart’s reputation, earning him the Charles Barkley comparisons:
3) Josh "Barkley" Hart has been vacuuming the glass, hauling in 11.0 rebounds a night.
These have been high-impact boards, as he has constantly put pressure on unsettled defensive by ripping down the rebound and immediately attacking on the break. pic.twitter.com/HTM4h6jaXN
— Joey Ramirez (@JoeyARamirez) February 10, 2018
But Hart was also capable of lighting it up every once in a while, even if his sophomore season saw a massive dip in shooting due, in part, to injuries.
But of course, when you think of Josh Hart, you think of high-fives and the tragic story that followed him in two years in the NBA:
Josh Hart has STRUGGLED to make contact on high-fives since coming into the league. @LakerFilmRoom breaks down why:https://t.co/ezBPNWyGjw pic.twitter.com/HpxLn1Vf67
— Silver Screen & Roll (@LakersSBN) December 12, 2018
Lonzo Ball was destined to be a Laker. A hometown kid who starred at UCLA, Ball was connected to the franchise before he ever played a game for them. What followed was endless debates about his unique shooting form, his defensive impact and where his floor or ceiling was.
Ball career with the Lakers started on an upswing when he connected with Ingram on the very first play of Summer League sending the arena full of Lakers fans into an uproar.
His rookie year was more up-and-down as evidenced by his first two games of the season. A poor showing in game one was followed by a 29-point explosion in game two.
In many cases, those two first games were microcosms of Lonzo’s short career. The point guard had games where he seemed to have no impact. But he also had games, or at least stretches of games, where he simply dominated on both ends of the ball.
And of course, Zo’s coming of age game against the Charlotte Hornets where both he and LeBron James dropped triple-doubles in a win, showcasing the young point guard’s ability to leave an imprint even when his superstar teammate dominated.
Of course, despite their short careers in Los Angeles, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart all had many more wonderful and memorable games and moments. Let us know what some of your favorites are in the comments and on Twitter and let’s celebrate the young trio on their way to New Orleans.