Have the 2018/19 Lakers Met Expectations?

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Cleveland Cavaliers
(Image/USA Today)

Ever since this Lakers roster was built the media have been all over the team, criticising the lack of shooting, whilst insisting that the strong personalities acquired would clash. Well, it hasn’t looked too bad so far, at the time of writing this article the Lakers are on a three-game winning streak and hold a 14-9 record, sitting #5 in a packed Western Conference. The team have won 12 of their last 16 games, after a poor 2-5 start to the season.

As we pass the quarter mark of the 2018/19 NBA season, we take a look to see if the Lakers have met expectations so far. Various UK-based Lakers fans (well, one is from Germany!) have jumped on board to give us their views and opinions.

(Image/Sky Sports)

What are your thoughts on the Lakers’ season so far? 

  • Tom: “I think the Lakers are definitely heading in the right direction. A good run of wins has put them in about the right place and I believe home court advantage in the playoffs isn’t an unrealistic possibility right now.”
  • Timi: “I think the Lakers are about where they should be. They have shown some good signs and some bad, as the team gets used to playing with LeBron. The young core is growing, vets are also working their way into the team. I’m glad to see the pace slowing down a little, as it allows us to play better defense.”
  • Steve: “I think the Lakers are pretty much where they belong talent wise. The Lakers are playoff bound but clearly not a contender.”
  • Russell: “Really happy to be 14-9, it’s been a solid start to the season. I am extremely happy with the overall feeling and chemistry this team has together, the way they are energised on the bench, look at the way they cheered Moe (Wagner) on when he got his first points in the NBA.”
  • Jamie: “Since I got the NBA League Pass a few years ago, this is the best we have been so far, mostly due to the King obviously!. We could be a couple of games better off but I think everyone is pretty happy where we are in a ridiculously strong Western Conference.”

So far, what are you views on the young core? 

  • Tom: “The young core is improving game by game. Kuz has been outstanding so far and is the stand out from the others. Lonzo is doing well in terms of defense but his shooting has to improve, it’s not been good enough. Ingram is still a work in progress, but he clearly isn’t where we would expect him to be by now.”
  • Timi: “The young core has shown growing pains, but ultimately are starting to grow well with LeBron. Whilst Zo, Kuz and Hart have grown with ‘Bron better, Ingram has looked the best as an individual (when LBJ isn’t on the floor).”
  • Steve: “The young core seems to have hit a road block which came in person of LeBron. Zo has impressed me, whilst Kuz is stagnant and Ingram has looked worse on several occasions.”
  • Russell: “I am not ready to give up on them yet. Lonzo brings fantastic D and energy, the shooting needs to improve desperately though. Kuz is my favourite player, he’s very streaky at the moment but I’m hoping he becomes more consistent. Ingram frustrates me, he’s an immense talent, but doesn’t fit with LBJ. As for Hart, he’s a decent player off the bench, he needs to select when to shoot better but when he’s set correctly he can drain the 3 ball.”
  • Jamie: “I am hoping for a big improvement from Ingram, as well as Zo becoming more aggressive as his shot is pretty much a bust.” 

Would you be open to a trade? 

  • Tom: “Trade-wise, I think it would have to be the one that improves their offensive play but who I don’t know. We would have to see who is available and what it would cost, before making a definite decision.”
  • Timi: “I would trade Ingram potentially.”
  • Russell: “I might be in the minority here but I wouldn’t make a trade. I want to see how far these young players can go and then hopefully add in free agency.”
  • Jamie: “We have been in the doldrums for too long now – we need to start contending! Being a (Kentucky) Wildcats fan, I loved watching Anthony Davis play and win an NCAA title. Sadly, acquiring him would mean us losing some young talent. If Lonzo and Ingram are part of the deal and we still keep Kuz and Hart, then it’s not that bad.”
Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Lakers
(Image/USA Today)

Which player has exceeded your expectations so far? 

  • Tom: “JaVale McGee, without a doubt. What a signing he has been! He has been the best defender on the team and works stupidly hard to protect the basket and also crushes teams at the other end with every chance he gets.”
  • Timi: “JaVale (McGee) is definitely the biggest surprise. I knew he’d be a rim protector but to be top-3 in blocks, plus providing a decent offensive presence in the paint has been great. Looks like the years in Golden State have really helped him develop as a player.”
  • Russell: “For me, it’s Tyson (Chandler) and JaVale (McGee), I love the energy, the D and the tandem they have created together!.”
  • Jamie: “Definitely McGee. He seemed a bit of an average signing at first but I have loved watching him play. He seems like a proper team guy and is excited when cheer-leading on the sideline. I love watching his blocks, they are almost as exciting as LBJ’s monster slams!”

What are your expectations moving forward for the team? 

  • Tom: “Going forward I would like to see the number of turnovers drop, especially the unforced turnovers. We need to start games better as it seems sometimes that it takes an age for the team to wake up and actually get into the game. And plenty more winning streaks please!”
  • Timi: “I think the Lakers moving forward will start to play more consistently as they work with Walton’s schemes and learn to play with one another. I think we’ll continue to be a poor free throw shooting team but the turnovers will start to decline. Ultimately we won’t start to hit top gear in the next quarter, but it’s looking good.”
  • Steve: “My expectations are a 7th or 8th seed, but a first round exit against almost any opponent.”
  • Russell: “It would be to make the playoffs, the young core needs to improve and we can possibly win a playoff series. I would be extremely happy with that moving into free agency in the summer.”
  • Jamie: “At least one series win in the playoffs, if the team stays as it is. If we get Davis, we have to be looking at the Conference Finals and a date with the Warriors! That would be awesome!.”

That rounds up our first quarterly review of the 2018/19 Los Angeles Lakers, the next review will be up around late January, early February time. By then, we would have experienced the mouth-watering clash with the defending NBA champions, the Golden State Warriors, on Christmas Day!.

We hope you have enjoyed reading and thank you to Tom (@tj_wade27), Timi (@TimiAwotesu), Steve (@RochlitzerSteve), Russell (@keddie_russell) and Jamie (@_TheJMan81) for taking part and expressing their views and opinions. Give them all a follow on Twitter!.

Thank you for reading, any comments are much appreciated. Please follow Lakers Fanclub UK on Twitter here. 

By Matt Evans (@mattyyyevans)