The Greatest Lakers of All-Time: A Summary – Part 1

(Image/Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports)

Over the last couple of months, Lakers UK has been running polls through its social media channels to decide the Top 16 Greatest Lakers of All-Time. Following 2000+ votes through both Twitter and Instagram, the list is complete.

For each player, we compiled an article chronicling their greatest moments in the Purple and Gold. In this 2 part series, we have compiled at an exert from each.

In the Lakers storied 72 season history the franchise has seen the grace of many truly great players. For the organisations first 12 years, theses Legends would ply their trade at the Minneapolis Auditorium. The team would then move out West, setting up camp in the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California. The arena would see it’s very own set of legends in its 31 seasons of service to the franchise. The Staples Center would then become the Lakers next dwelling, seeing its own collection of player deserving of their retired number status.

In this 2 part Count down of these greats, we will of course begin with number 16 and work our way down the list to who followers of Lakers UK decided is The Greatest Laker of All-Time.

NEXT: Michael Cooper

3 Reasons Why the Lakers Need Danny Green

(Image/NBA.com)

Many Laker fans feel that Danny Green’s performance in the 2019-20 season has been a disappointment. In actuality, the 10-year veteran is a key part in the Los Angeles Lakers fulfilling their potential and winning an NBA Championship.

Danny Green is a player that certainly has his critics throughout fans across the league. Many believe the Green Ranger hasn’t been worth the $30 million contract he signed with the Lakers back in 2019.

In all fairness, when looking at Green’s stats on face value, they can be considered slightly disappointing. He currently averages 8.2 PPG, 1.4 APG and 3.4 RPG. If we compare those numbers to the season he had in 2018-19 while he was with the Toronto Raptors, we’ll see that he has suffered a drop of 2.1 PPG, 0.2 APG and 0.6 RPG.

With all that considered, the Lakers still need Green’s contributions in order to compete for an NBA Championship. Let’s take a closer look at what Green brings to the table.

NEXT: Spacing the Floor

The 3 Young Lakers Who Could Shine in Orlando

(Image/Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBA.com)

As the season comes to an end and the Lakers lock up the 1 seed in the West, it is inevitable that Frank Vogel will make the decision to rest his superstars. Luckily for the Laker faithful, there are 3 players sat at the end of the bench hungry for the opportunity.

The Lakers currently sit atop of the Western Conference with a record of 49-14, their closest competition is the Los Angeles Clippers as they hold a record of 44-20. With the 8 competitive regular-season games they are scheduled to play in Orlando, it won’t be long before the Lakers are to far adrift from their competition as they look to secure the 1 seed.

In this eventuality, it is likely that the Lakers coaching staff look into other options as they attempt to give the starters as much rest as possible prior to the start of the Playoffs.

Luckily for Frank Vogel and Co., 3 youthful talents have travelled with the team to Florida. The first is a 6’4″ rookie that the Lakers selected with the 46th pick in last years NBA draft, Talen Horton-Tucker. The second is a player who is mostly mentioned in the same sentence as his better-known brother, but he is a talent in his own right, Kostas Antetokounmpo. And the third is G-League phenomenon who could be destined for big things, Devontae Cacok. We’ll take a look at all 3 and consider what we can expect from the promising trio.

NEXT: Talen Horton Tucker

The Greatest Lakers of All-Time: Kobe Bryant – No. 8

(Image/Jennifer Pottheiser/NBA/Getty Images)

This is the sixteenth in a series of articles featuring a countdown of the Top 16 Greatest Lakers of All-Time, as decided by the followers of Lakers UK on Twitter and Instagram.

Finishing with number 1 – Kobe Bryant. For this special article, we’ll take an in-depth look at his greatest game wearing number 8, with Part 2 to follow as we will look at his time wearing number 24.

Playing his whole 20 season career in the Purple and Gold, lifetime Laker fan Bryant made his way to LA after being drafted by the Charlotte Hornets. Leading the Lakers in several categories, Bryant is first in games (1,346), minutes (48,637), made field goals (11.719), made 3 pointers (1,827), made free throws (8,378), steals (1,944) and points (33,643). He is also second in assists (6,306) and third in rebounds (7,047).

In his two decades with the franchise, Bryant featured in many different iterations of the Lakers. Beginning as Number 8 with the threepeat team of the early 2000s, seeing Bryant grow into an offensive force to pair with a peak Shaquille O’Neal, resulting in 3 championships between 2000-2002. Unfortunately failing to win a 4th straight title in 2004 as Gary Payton and Karl Malone joined the Purple and Gold. This was the fortune of a surprise loss suffered to the Detriot Piston in the NBA Finals.

Following the departure of O’Neal in ’04, the team would then go into the franchise player years as LAs front office desperately tried to put effective pieces around a peak Kobe Bryant, failing miserably. Mamba’s last 2 seasons wearing number 8 would be 2 of his best individually, averaging 27.6 PPG in ’04-’05 before besting that and scoring 35.4 PPG in ’05-’06, winning himself his first scoring title.

2005-’06 would be Kobe’s final season donning number 8, opting to switch to his first High School number, 24. Bryant selected number 8 as a nod to his childhood in Italy, wearing the number as a young child as he played with his youth basketball team. To go along with this, Bryant attended an Adidas youth training camp before entering the league, he was randomly selected to wear number 143, 1+4+3=8. A number Bryant selected by chance now holds such a stark significants in the evolution and story of The Black Mamba.

Bryant had some great moments wearing the number 8 on his back. One would be the 28 points he scored against the Indiana Pacers in Game 4 of the 2000 NBA Finals. He went from missing most of Game 2 and all of Game 3 with a sprained ankle to playing 47 of a possible 53 minutes and leading the Lakers to a 120-118 overtime victory. Another would be the alley-oop he threw to Shaquille O’Neal in the final minute of Game 7 of the 2000 NBA Western Conference Finals. Yet another would be the 62 points he scored in 3 quarters against the Dallas Mavericks on the 20th of December 2005. Going 18/31 from the field and shooting 22/25 as he scored 62 of the Lakers 112 points.

Despite all this, for Kobe’s number 8 review we have selected the 81 points he scored against the Toronto Raptors in the 2005-06 season.

Number 8’s 81

(Image/Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times)

It’s the 22nd of January 2006, the Los Angeles Lakers are playing the Toronto Raptors at the Staples Center. The team were back in LA following an unsuccessful road trip, first, an overtime loss in Sacramento, 118-109 before losing 106-93 in Phoenix. Leaving them with a record of 21-19 going into the game against the team from north of the border.

Bryant was tearing a hole in defensive schemes throughout the league, averaging 34.8 PPG throughout the first 40 games. Leading the league in scoring with the only player anywhere close being Allen Iverson (33.4 PPG). As for scoring for the rest of the team, it was a real struggle, the next highest was Lamar Odom with 14.6 PPG.

As for the game, Bryant would get his first 4 points early on. First driving the lane from the left-wing, beating Morris Peterson off the dribble and finishing with the reverse layup. He would then hit a difficult 20-foot fadeaway jumper on the very next possession. Coming around from the right elbow to the top of the key, collecting the ball from Kwame Brown. He then fakes left before spinning 180 degrees to the right and hitting over the top of Peterson. LA is up 7-6.

Bryant would then miss his next couple opportunities as the Raptors go on a run, going up 21-11 before Phil Jackson calls timeout, 5:18 left in the quarter. Bryant would get his next score as the teams come back, managing to wriggle free using a pick from Chris Mihm. Confusion on the switch led to Bryant getting an open long 2 point jumper from the top of the key, a charity shot for prime Kobe. He now has 6.

Bryant’s next bucket would come as he collects the rebound following Chris Bosh missing the mid-range jumper. He runs the ball up the court, using Browns screen to get the switch. Now guarded by Jalen Rose, Bryant drives to the right of the paint. He fakes a 360 spin to the left before fading away to the right and shooting. The ball banks off the glass and it drops in, 23-17 with 3:47 left, Bryant has 8.

Bryant would next score as he attacks the rim once again. Collecting the ball in the right high post. He turns to face Peterson before driving off his right foot, jump stopping past him and finishing inside. Bryant would then go to the charity shot twice before the end of the quarter, connecting on all 4 shots and putting his points total up to 14 to finish the 1st, Toronto lead 36-29.

Kobe would start the 2nd quarter on the bench, sitting out 6 minutes before getting in the game once again, the score is 46-32 in the Raptors favour. Bryants first bucket would come almost straight away, hitting the contested corner 3 to secure himself 17 of the Lakers 35 points.

Over the next couple possession, both teams struggled to score. Bryant misses 3 jump shots along the way as he goes full tunnel vision in terms of scoring. His next successful trip up the floor would come at the rim. Devean George has the ball on the left-wing as Kobe stands at the top of the 3 point line. Mihm comes to the top of the key as George darts the ball into him, meanwhile, Bryant dives around the back of Mihm. Mihm bounces the ball to his left as he stands with his back to the rim and sets a screen on Bryants man, Eric Williams. Bryant catches the bounce pass and continues his trajectory towards the rim, leaping up and finishing hard over the top of Matt Bonner. Cutting the Raptors lead to 13, 52-39.

Bryant now has 19 as the clock ticks down past 3 minutes left in the 2nd quarter, even with little time left in the half the Black Mamba was far from finished with his attacking play. He would score again as LA run their offence once again. Bryant catches the ball at the top of the 3 point line, takes one dribble to his right as he moves inside the line and shoots, releasing the ball as quick as he collected it to shoot, the off leg flaring out in the famous way fans will recognise, it swishes through. He now has 21 points.

Bryant would continue his flourish of scoring throughout the final minute. He would be fouled as he attacks the bucket on the fastbreak. Going to the line to shoot 2, he hits the first. The second bounces in and out as the rebound is smacked back out towards Bryant, who secures it. He bounces once and gathers to prevent turning it over. With nowhere to go, he takes a step into the paint and puts the ball up and in. Scoring again on his next possession, Bryant brings the ball up the floor and calls for the screen. Mihm comes out and delivers it. Bryant sprints around and euro steps his way past Bosh in the paint and finishes with a right-handed lay-up.

That would see the end of the half, as Bryant finishes with 26 points (going 10/18 from the field) with the rest of the Lakers team scoring 23 points combined. The Raptors have dominated offensively, scoring 63 points to compare to the Lakers 49 points.

Bryant would continue his tunnel vision approach as he missed his first 2 jumpers of the 3rd, scoring on his 3rd attempt. He picks up the ball on the right-wing as the Lakers run in early offence. Bryant takes a hard dribble with his right before gathering the ball and taking 3 long strides towards the right side of the cylinder, finishing with his right hand. Only a couple possessions would go by before Bryant scores again. Picking the ball up at the high left corner, he fakes the quick shot before driving baseline, wrong-footing his man, Bosh. Bryant takes 2 dribbles with his left hand before rising for the baseline jumper, connecting over the top of Bosh and Bonner. Kobe now has 30 as the Lakers are down 16, Toronto leads 69-53.

Bryant’s next few buckets come in quick succession as he begins to find his range with his jump shot. The first of which coming as Bryant picks up the ball at the top of the 3 point line. He takes a moment as he sizes up how he is going to beat Rose. Decision made, Bryant takes a quick hesitation step inside the 3 point line before rising up and lacing the net from 21 feet. Beginning to catch fire, Bryant would then pull up contested from the left-wing on the fastbreak, hitting only his second 3 of the night. His third would come quickly after as he shoots a catch and shoot 3 from the top, swishing it once again. Bryant now has 38 points with 7:39 left in the quarter, the Raptors remain in the lead 73-61.

A couple of minutes would go by before Bryant had yet another scoring flourish, the first of which coming from beyond the arc once again. Coming up in early offence Kobe receives the ball and strolls his way to the left-wing. Jalen Rose anticipates the drive and drops back as Bryant takes a little stutter step before pulling up without warning and drops the shot with 100% accuracy, nothing but net. The next possession down Bryant hits yet another jump shot, from inside the arc this time. Collecting the ball on the right-wing, Peterson has his hand on Bryant’s hip as the Raptors are desperate to slow him down. Bryant takes 2 dribbles to the baseline before stopping and faking twice, Peterson is all over him. Undistracted Kobe puts up a shot from 18 feet, dropping it through like a penny in a well and earning a shot at the line for his troubles. Stepping to the charity strike, Bryant has now hit 10 straight field goals as he finishes the traditional 3 point play. He now has 44 of LAs 66 as the deficit has been cut to 9, 77-66.

About a minute of game time would go by before Bryant scored again. Smush Parker delivers a bounce pass to number 8 as he makes his way to the right-wing. Bryant jab steps to the right before firing away, catching Joey Graham off guard. The ball drops through once again as the crowd begin to get involved, the Lakers were on there way back, now only down by 5, 78-73. Bryant has 47.

The clock would tick down below 3 minutes before Bryant scored again, attacking the rim this time. Coming to the left-wing in the early offence once again, this time keeping his dribble alive and attacking Graham as he heads towards the baseline. Unable to recover, Graham lets him go and Bryant finishes with the reverse at the rim, he now has 49. Game score now sits at 85-81 with 2:30 left in the 3rd.

The Lakers had well and truly started a run as other players began to score, the teams had drawn level by the 1:30 mark, 85-85. Bryant would then score emphatically to give LA their first lead since 2-0. Mike James has the ball on the perimeter as the Raptors are on offence. He tries to get it to Jose Calderon at the right-wing, but the ball is intercepted by non-other than Kobe Bryant. Running the loose ball down, Bryant sees off the challenge as Calderon attempts to regain possession. He gets to the Raptors 3 point line as he secures the basketball, all alone he gathers the ball and marches into the paint. Slamming the ball down hard with two hands and putting a dent on the rim as the arena rises to its feet. Everything Kobe had done tonight had looked effortless, a level above the competition. Stu Lantz remarks “Well that’s 51 for number 8” as LA take an 87-85 lead.

(Image/Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

Bryant will get one more bucket before the start of the 4th as Torontos defence fail to track the Lakers leading scorer once again. Bryant receives the ball from George as the Lakers inbound in the halfcourt. Bryant gives the ball back to the inbounder at the left-wing as Mihm sets a pick for Bryant. George finds Odom in the left corner as Bryant’s man gets caught on the screen, leaving him open. Odom quickly delivers the rock inside as Bryant goes up and dunks it home. A perfectly executed inbounds play sees LA take a 6 point lead, 91-85. A score that would stand as the 3rd ends.

As a team, the Lakers had 42 points in the 3rd quarter, shooting 14/21. On his own Bryant had 27 of those points on 11/15 from the field, a remarkable achievement for just 12 minutes of playing time.

Number 8’s first 2 points of the 4th would come at the line. This was closely followed by a 13-foot jump shot. The ball comes to Bryant as he stands in the right high post. He pivots to face Peterson as he plans his attack. Jab stepping to the right twice before taking one dribble in the same direction. Bryant pulls up and swishes it home before Peterson can react. He is now 5 away from his then career-high(62) with 57 as he extends the Lakers young lead to 7, 95-88.

Another mid-range jumper would follow soon after as Bryant has the ball at the top of the 3 point line, Guarded by Rose. Brown comes to set Kobe a screen, bringing the double. Bryant sees this before it develops and splits the Raptors defence as he heads towards the paint. He pulls up at the free throw line as Bosh mistakenly puts a hand on his back, fouling the shooter. Bryant hits the shot as he heads to the line for a chance at converting yet another 3 point play, unfortunately missing the charity shot. He now has 59 as the Purple and Gold lead 97-88.

A quiet couple of minutes would then follow for the Lakers on offence as the Raptors cut the lead back to 4, 97-93. This would change as the Raptors had finally decided to start throwing an extra body at Bryant on drives. Something he took advantage of to find an open Odom for 3. He connects as the Lakers inch beyond a century. The very next trip down the floor Bryant would score once again. He receives the ball in the right corner in early offence. Panic comes over Bonner as he tries to guard Mamba, jumping out to guard the catch and shoot. Bryant sees this and immediately drives baseline and into the paint. With Bonner beaten, Bryant goes around the stagnant Bosh before finishing the open shot from close range. He now has 61 Ponts as the Lakers go up 102-93, 6:30 left.

Bryant will then go to the line as he is fouled on a 3 point attempt. Rose holding onto Kobe out of fear, Bryant smartly tries to put the shot up and the officials blow the whistle. As Bryant steps to the line commentary remarks “Ladies and Gentlemen you are about to see a career-high for Kobe Bryant”. Swishing the first one he ties his career-high, 62 for number 8. The second rattles around the rim before dropping through, giving Bryant a new career-high, 63. The third and final free throw would see the Staples Center rise to its feet as they celebrate their hero. Bryant swishes it home, he now has 64 with 6 minutes left, Lakers lead 105-94.

It would only take Kobe half a minute to score again. Receiving the ball on the right-wing, with Rose stuck to his right hip like glue. Bryant takes a dribble with his left to give himself some breathing room. He then takes another dribble and a step to his left before firing from 26 feet with a hand in his face. Holding the swan neck as it hits the bottom of the net. He now has 67 points, overtaking Wilt Chamberlain(66) to become 2nd for most points in a single game in Laker history. Elgin Baylor(71) sits precariously in 1st with 5:30 left in the game.

The very next possession Bryant closes the gap even further. He gets the ball at the right-wing once again. Brown comes and sets the screen, allowing Bryant to take a single dribble to his left and shake his man once again. Pulling up from almost the exact same spot as his last make, anticipation fills the crowd as the ball floats through the air. It swishes home as the building explodes once again. Bryant now has 70 points, surpassing the career-high of his childhood idol Michael Jordan(69) and putting him 1 point behind Baylor. Lakers lead 111-96 with 4:40 left.

As LA bring the ball up the floor they are desperate to feed Kobe. He flashes open at the left-wing as Odom delivers it. Peterson is tight to Bryant, not allowing another 3. Bryant drives baseline again, taking 2 dribbles into the mid-range before pump faking. Covered by Peterson, Bryant is in full control as he jumps and fades. Creating enough space to get the shot off. It drops as the building erupts with energy once more. Commentary exclaims “Kobes got the Laker record!”

Now with 72 points and the game in the bag, with 4 minutes left Bryant was not finished. Odom gives him the ball at the left-wing again. This time Bryant goes right, driving into the paint. Peterson is beat as Bonner is the last line of defence. Kobe puts his left shoulder into the chest of Bonner, using it as a bounce pad. Bryant fades back and drops in the floater from 5 feet. He now has 74 as he continues to build the legend.

Bryant would then begin a parade to the line, being fouled once again by Bosh on the drive. He swishes the first to give himself 75. Replicating the shot perfectly, Bryant swishes the second and gives himself 76 points with 2:30 left in the game. Now only 2 points away from 2nd all-time in single-game scoring, held by Chamberlain.

The parade continues as Bryant is fouled from 3 point land. Commentary reminds us that “he’s gonna go to the line and shoot 3 free throws to get to 79. Which would be the second greatest performance in NBA history.” On the first, it bounces it off the back iron and in, 77. The next will tie Chamberlain’s record. Bouncing around the rim the second drops, 78. The third hit the back iron again before dropping through, 79. “Ladies and Gentlemen you have witnessed the second greatest scoring performance in NBA history! 79 points by Kobe Bryant tonight against the Toronto Raptors.”

Bryant would go to the line one final time on the 22nd of January 2006, to shoot 2 free throws with 43 seconds left in the game. A chance for 81! As cool as he shoots a free throw at shootaround, Bryant swishes the first home to total 80 points! The routine stays the same, high fives with the team, then back on the line. Bryant receives the ball, spins it to the floor and catches it again, followed by 2 bounces. His eyes rise up and lock onto the rim as he takes a deep breath. His arms rise for the shooting motion and he lets it go with the flick of his right wrist. It swishes home as the first did. “An 81 point game, 55 in the second half!”.

(Image/Noah Graham/Getty Images)

With 4.2 seconds left in the game, Pape Sow throws the ball away on a bad pass. Allowing Bryant to leave the game to the standing ovation he so truly deserves. Finishing the game with 81 points on 28/46 from the field, 7/13 from 3 point land and 18/20 from the free throw line. The greatest scoring performance ever by a Los Angeles Laker and the second greatest scoring performance in NBA history! Truly one of his greatest games wearing number 8!

(Image/Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images)

After leaving High School at 18 and originally being drafted with the number 13 pick in the 1996 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets, the rights to Bryant were immediately traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. In his 20 years wearing the Purple and Gold Bryant earned an All-Rookie Team selection, 2 NBA scoring titles, 18 NBA All-Star Selections, 4 NBA All-Star MVPs, 3 NBA All-Defensive Second Team selections, 9 NBA All-Defensive First Team selections, 2 All-NBA Third Team selections, 2 All-NBA Second Team selections, 11 All-NBA First Team selections, an NBA MVP, 5 NBA Championships, 2 NBA Finals MVPs, and later an induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

Following Bryant’s death, on 26th of January 2020, there was an outpouring of love not only in Los Angeles but across the world. Fans of the game worldwide expressed their condolences and shared stories of their own special moments as they remembered Kobe. A true legend that did not only transcend basketball but life itself as young fans today still learn of the legend of Kobe Bean Bryant.

In 2017 the franchise made it so no other Laker would wear number 8 or number 24 again. Hanging his jerseys in the rafters of the Staples Center. Becoming the 10th player to have his number retired by the Los Angeles Lakers and the only player to have two numbers retired by the same organisation. All these achievements and the many memories he has left us with more than cement his place at the top of this list of true Laker greats!


Check out Lakers UK’s podcast The Lake Lake Show on all podcast platforms. Including Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Google Podcasts.

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Can Markieff Morris Help the Lakers Play Small Ball Come Playoff Time?

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The newest member of the Los Angeles Lakers family Markieff Morris has had a good start to life as a Laker. Could the addition of Morris give the Lakers a chance to try out small ball line-ups with Morris at the 5?

This season for the Los Angeles Lakers has been different, in so many ways.
They no longer have the young core, they are no longer a lottery team and after times of turmoil and drama, this Lakers team truly seems to be a family.

Losing the late great Kobe Bryant has really brought the Lakers community as a whole a lot closer and it is a truly beautiful thing to see.

Having a group of teammates who like, respect, and want to be around each
other is rare. With so many personalities on a team, it is so easy for one bad
egg to ruin the bunch and this Lakers group genuinely seems to have a bond together.

A significant amount of props must be given to the likes of LeBron James,
Anthony Davis, Rob Pelinka, and Frank Vogel.

As some of the main leaders of the Lakers organization, they have truly set
the tone for the entire team and it speaks to all of their leadership qualities
that this team has remained so tight-knit.

With all that being said, for new signing Markieff Morris to join the
Lakers, they had to let go of DeMarcus Cousins. Boogie is
expected to stay around the practice facility, get his body right, and
potentially come back to the Lakers next season.

With Cousins no longer on the roster, Morris is now added to the forward
rotation.

NEXT: Markieff Morris


Can Alex Caruso be an X-Factor for the Los Angeles Lakers during the playoffs?

Los Angeles Lakers
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Fan-favorite players energize their team’s fans. Teams use that energy to push their play to new heights. When the NBA resumes this month in Disney World there will be a lack of fans due to safety protocols. Can Caruso give his team a boost during the playoffs?

Fan-favorite players have been a hallmark of team sports since the get-go. For the Lakers, you might think of Kurt Rambis with his mustache and horn-rimmed glasses.

A blue-collar player in stark contrast to the Showtime smoothness of Magic Johnson and company, his play brought much-needed grit to the NBA champions. And his cheering section the Rambis Youth loved him for it.

Fan favorites are never the best player on the team. They often have a goofy look or a quirky style of pay, but that only makes them more adored.

Fans love these guys because they are not the untouchable Gods that most superstars seem to be. They are just like me and you. Fans see themselves through these players working alongside their heroes.

This means their achievements are the crowd’s achievements and the response is huge. A fan-favorite hits a three or dunks on the other team’s star and the place goes wild. Momentum in team sports is everything. And the crowd plays its part in generating the energy for that.

Los Angeles Lakers
Alex Caruso (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)

Alex Caruso is the quintessential fan-favorite player. A little fancied prospect in college. A less than a straight forward route to the NBA.

He’s not big nor does he look particularly athletic. He’s a bench-warmer and he’s balding! (Author’s note- as a fellow follically-challenged individual I see no issue with this!) So why is Alex Caruso adored by the Laker faithful? And what does he bring to the team?

The man now known for his highlight-reel dunks as ‘Carushow’ had a difficult route to the NBA. He went undrafted and bounced around a few teams before landing with the Lakers during the 2017 NBA Summer League. But the hard work he put into his game paid off.

He helped the Lakers win the 2017 Summer League in Las Vegas. Caruso then became the first player ever to go from the D-league (now G-League) straight to the NBA on a two-way deal.

He made his Lakers NBA debut on 19th October 2017. Since then he has logged a career-high 32 points in a victory on 5th April 2019 against the Clippers. He was also the only player other than LeBron James that season to log a game with 30+ points, 10+ rebounds and 5+ assists. He signed a two-year contract on 6th July 2019.

Despite the humble start of his career, Alex Caruso is improving all the time.

Given Caruso’s look, he was soon dubbed Bald Eagle and Bald Mamba by the Laker fans.

Los Angeles Lakers
(Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)

The fan-favorite relationship was growing. One put-back dunk last season drew such a shocked reaction from LeBron James that it went viral. Even King James was amazed at the new heights Caruso was soaring too.

He was becoming an important player who could pull fans out of their seats. A joke in the Lakers locker room that dubbed Caruso the GOAT began with LeBron James. But this was not a cruel form of mockery.

This tongue in cheek nickname said that Caruso was accepted and appreciated. In James’ eyes, the eyes of the team leader, Alex Caruso had arrived.

On the court, there is no better duo in the NBA this season than LeBron James and Alex Caruso.

That is a fact. They share NBA league-leading status with a plus-20.8 rating when on the court together (among duos with at least 300 minutes played). This means no pair of players in the NBA this year put more distance between their team and the opposition than Alex Caruso and LeBron James.

Individually Caruso is averaging 5.4 points, 1.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1 steal per game in an average of 17.8 minutes a night. But the plus rating record he shares proves that the Lakers are a better team defensively when he is on the court. And we all know that defense wins championships.


The great Showtime Lakers of the 1980’s featured superstars Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and James Worthy. They won five of the ten NBA titles on offer in that decade.

Their greatest rivals were the Boston Celtics whose leader Larry Bird singled out his toughest opponent. And the man who Bird said defended him better than anyone else in the league? The Lakers fan favorite Michael Cooper. Not a star but a vital player with tough D and a high-dunking style on the fast-break that drew adoration from the crowd. Sound like anyone we know?

(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Alex Caruso’s reaction in a recent interview to being called a fan favorite was typically team-oriented: “It brings energy from the crowd to the team if I do something cool so it helps us all play better.”

Without the fans in Orlando will this be a factor? It could be said that without fans there is even more need for players to generate their energy for their team to feed off. Alex Caruso has proven that his energy can win the admiration of the very best player in the league in LeBron James.

His play along King James proves he has an impact. The Lakers have a spark plug in their line-up and he will be needed. Even more so now that Avery Bradley has exercised his right to sit out of the NBA restart.

No-one quarrels with Bradley or his reasons but it does leave a hole at guard in the Lakers starting lineup. Bradley brought tough defense. We know Alex Caruso makes the Lakers a better defensive team when he is on the court and especially with Lebron James.

As the Lakers close in on NBA title number 17 we will see a lot of LeBron James on the court. Don’t be surprised if we also see a man stood next to him called Bald Eagle every step of the way. When the Carushow lands in Disney World it will be the hottest ticket in town.


Check out Lakers UK’s podcast The Lake Lake Show on all podcast platforms. Including Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Google Podcasts.

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The LA Long Game, Part 1

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 1161295806-850x560.jpeg
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

As the Lakers enter their first championship window in a decade, we examine how they can optimize it.

Rob Pelinka has good reason to be pleased with himself. In the three years since he took over from Mitch Kupchak as General Manager of the Lakers the team has turned over the roster, shed two albatross contracts, added two transcendent talents, hired a new coach, and moved from the cellar of the league to the title conversation.

In spite of that meteoric rise, it has seemed all year as though the front office still has something to prove. The failure to get Kawhi Leonard in free agency after they had seemed certain to do so was a serious blow to Pelinka’s image in the press. Ivica Zubac was traded for what amounted to a bottle of snake oil. Even the coverage of the Anthony Davis trade – a major coup – was tainted by the suggestion that Pelinka had overpaid.

The real test of Rob Pelinka as a General Manager will come in the next two years. The task is a formidable one: re-sign Davis, maximize the current team around him and LeBron James, then find a younger star to pair with him as James continues to age (or perhaps goes elsewhere to play with his son). The next two off-seasons are crucial. After the summer of 2021, the Lakers’ title window will either close for several years or continue to open wider.

Los Angeles Lakers
(Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images)

Off-Season 2020

The first important decision to be made after the 2020 season will be made by Anthony Davis. It was conventional wisdom coming into the season that he would decline his player option for next year, sign a two-year contract for a better salary, and then get the largest possible bag after completing his 10th year in the league.

The salary cap implications of the season shutdown have changed that calculation, both for Davis and the team. The team may not be able to afford giving Davis a substantial raise. For the purpose of building the best possible team, he may not necessarily demand one. Simply opting-in to the last year of his contract would postpone a financial decision until the position of the cap is more clear, while aligning Davis’ free-agency with that of Giannis Antetokounmpo and James’ own player option.

Both Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Rajon Rondo also have player options after this year. Rondo is almost certain to take his, as he would otherwise have difficulty finding paid work in the NBA outside of coaching. Caldwell-Pope has significantly increased his value this year and has a chance to do so even farther with a solid playoff performance.

Los Angeles Lakers
(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images).

Unfortunately for him, the market for his services will deflate with
the lower salary cap, and he is unlikely to get a better deal on a contending
team than the one he currently has.

The big rotation for next year is set to be similar to this year, with
JaVale McGee still on contract and Dwight Howard and/or DeMarcus Cousins expected to return in unrestricted free agency. Kyle Kuzma will be in the last year of his rookie contract and the Lakers will be able to bring Markieff Morris back with a fairly modest raise, pending his performance in the playoffs.

As for the guard rotation, there is fairly little room to add to it should
Dion Waiters re-sign with the team. They could – and should – take long looks at both Fred VanVleet and Goran Dragic as additional distributors who can also score. Despite their surplus of guards, the Lakers suffer from a chronic lack of ball-handling.

Adding a ball-handling guard has another auxiliary benefit. It creates
several skill-set redundancies at the guard position that are most easily
resolved via trade. Caldwell-Pope, Danny Green , Avery Bradley, and Alex Caruso could be important pieces in a negotiation for a third star, which is a
reflection on their strong play this season.

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Regardless of how each of these variables ends up playing out, the broad
goals are clear. Regardless of the outcome of this post-season, the goal will
be to build around the core of James and Davis with shooting, ball-handling,
and versatile defenders. Marginal improvements of this sort helped James win championships in Miami and Cleveland, in both cases immediately after falling short in the Finals.

For both the remainder of this season and next year, the Lakers will be
championship favorites provided their stars are healthy. After that, there is a possibility that both James and Davis will be unrestricted free agents, along with several more of the biggest names in the league. It is then, in the 2021 free agency period, that the Lakers will have to make their move for the long term.


Check out Lakers UK’s podcast The Lake Lake Show on all podcast platforms. Including Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Google Podcasts.

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Is Kyle Kuzma’s time with the Los Angeles Lakers coming to an end?

Los Angeles Lakers
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

This season has gone according to plan so far for the Los Angeles Lakers. They are in the hunt for a title, LeBron James and Anthony Davis are playing terrific and the team is winning. But for 3rd-year power forward Kyle Kuzma, this season has been nothing short of underwhelming for the budding star.

The year is 2019, the date: June 12th. Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka calls newly crowned New Orleans Pelicans Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin:

Rob Pelinka: John 3:16, Chapter 3, verse 16. ” For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

David Griffin: Just once Rob I wish you would say Hi or Hello… wait… Are you comparing me to God and Anthony Davis to Jesus Rob?

RP: No….. biblical quotes are just…. you know… kinda my thing.

DG:  Whatever dude. I’m guessing you’re calling about Anthony again? The price hasn’t changed we want Lonzo, Brandon, Josh, Kyle, a bunch of picks and the rights to your next child.

RP: Hmmmm……. Kuz is a no go.

DG: Why keep Kuz? You would be getting Anthony Davis, they play the same position?

RP: We just love his mental make up. 

DG: Wouldn’t it make more sense to keep Brandon or Lonzo? You don’t have many play-makers outside of LeBron.

RP: MENTAL MAKE-UP!!!!!!!!

DG: (Hangs up)

RP: Hello? Hello?????

Well, that’s what I took from Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times tweet.

The trade has since gone through and the Los Angeles Lakers stuck to their guns and kept Kyle Kuzma.

Keeping Brandon Ingram or Lonzo Ball made more sense for the purple and gold as they are both capable play-makers, both are good defenders and each has significant upside.

Kuzma is now the final disciple of the young core era.

Next: Kuzma Upside

Frank Vogel, Coach of the Year?

(Image/Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

In spite of widespread skepticism, Frank Vogel has smoothly guided the Los Angeles Lakers through his first regular season as coach.

Frank Vogel never had a honeymoon. Most coaches, upon being hired, are greeted with a sort of hopeful enthusiasm. Fans are fans for a reason, and have a well-documented tendency to hope for the best. Instead, Vogel was hired under a cloud of controversy after the exhaustively documented breakdown in talks between the Lakers and erstwhile LeBron James coach, Tyronn Lue.

Many in the media and online dismissed Vogel as a third choice coach and placeholder for assistants Jason Kidd and Lionel Hollins. It was widely assumed that he would be the fall guy, should the team run into any real trouble.

In spite of the noise, the team rallied around Vogel from the first. LeBron James – the most important voice in the locker room – already respected Vogel from his days in Miami. When he played in consecutive Eastern Conference Finals series’ against the Vogel-coached Indiana Pacers. The rest of the locker room got the message.

Vogel’s open, direct, and collaborative style has proven successful while managing a team with two experienced superstars and a staff with two former head coaches. Who are also former star players. He has navigated potentially difficult dynamics by sustaining team success. He has been even and measured in his public comments, always realistic but never too high or too low.

(Image/Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Offensively, his sets have gotten some criticism for not being particularly imaginative. His reputation coming into this season was predominantly as a defensive coach, and no one currently on the coaching staff fits the “offensive coordinator” role. Especially in the way that Tex Winter did for another defensive-minded Laker head coach, Phil Jackson.

During the season, he took significant heat for under-utilizing the LeBron James/Anthony Davis screen-and-roll in favor of post-ups or isolation plays. In part, that was a reaction to the way the Lakers have been defended this season. When Davis is being guarded by a position 4 player or the opposing team plays a smaller 5, teams are switching the screen-and-roll. That leads naturally to mismatches and isolation play.

In the playoffs, when teams are heavily scouted and offensive sets are known to all. Offensive play in recent years has frequently degenerated into the cat-and-mouse game of manipulating switches to create advantageous match-ups. Purposefully creating perimeter isolation or post up situations for James and Davis throughout the season is, in all probability, designed to get the team accustomed to the style of offense they are likely to be playing in the post-season.

(Image/Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

Defensively, Vogel has been superb. The Lakers are third in the NBA in defensive rating (up from 13th last year), and the team-wide buy-in has been noticeable. The late-season addition of a strong, versatile defender in Markieff Morris only stands to improve an already stingy Laker defense.

Overall, Vogel has built an impressive case for himself in the Coach of the Year balloting. He has stiff competition in Toronto’s Nick Nurse, who has kept the Raptors in the top tier in the East in spite of losing Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green from last year’s championship squad. Mike Budenholzer of the Bucks would be a top contender, but he was last year’s victor and the voters dislike consecutive wins – only once has any coach won back-to-back CotY awards.

Other coaches from teams who are not top-tier, such as Indiana’s Nate McMillan and Memphis’ Taylor Jenkins, have made waves by maximizing limited rosters. But are disadvantaged by the fact that both Vogel and Nurse are coaching contending teams.

Whether he ultimately receives the award or not, Frank Vogel has been a reasonable, steady hand for a team that needed a down-to-earth coach who could nonetheless earn the respect of the star-studded team and coaching staff. The real test of his ability will come in the playoffs. But thus far he has provided everything that Laker fans could have wanted from him.


Check out Lakers UK’s podcast The Lake Lake Show on all podcast platforms. Including Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Google Podcasts.

Lakers UK are proud affiliate partners of Fanatics UK and the NBA Store Europe. We do possess unique promotional codes for both websites that can offer our readers and followers 10% off site-wide through the following weblinks.

Fanatics UK: http://tinyurl.com/y4vjv32b and enter the promotional code LAKERSUK10 at checkout to receive 10% off. This is not limited to just NBA apparel, but the discount can be used on MLB, NFL, NHL, Football/Soccer gear also!

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Is LeBron James Going to Win His 5th MVP Award?

He Just Leads the Path For Us": Giannis Antetokounmpo Sees LeBron ...
(Image/Essentially Sports)

This season, as always, the superstars and titans of the league have been battling to earn the NBA’s Most Valuable Player Award. Two of the main contenders are the Los Angeles Lakers superstar duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.  

The King of Los Angeles, LeBron James is like a fine wine that gets better with age. At the age of 35, he has led the purple and gold to the top spot in the Western Conference with an impressive record of 49 wins and 14 losses.  

James is the facilitator and is constantly talking and shouting out plays. His passing this year has been exceptional and that along with his basketball IQ makes him one of the best playmakers in the league. This season James is averaging 10.6 assists per game. This is the highest in the league with the Atlanta Hawks’ Trae Young in second, with 9.3 per game. Alongside his playmaking skills, James’ scoring has been dominant, averaging an impressive 25.7 points per game. Most of these points come from his unprecedented ability to get to the rim with 14 drives per game which equates to 57% of his points.  

He has been a threat from deep by being just below a league-average 3-point shooter and has increased his efficiency from last year (from .339% to .349%). This efficiency along with his great mid-range game and rim finishing equates to an effective field goal percentage of .555%. Which combined with 19.6 field-goals attempted per game is a hugely impressive feat.  

Defensively James has been solid and the infamous chase down block has been on display many times in the city of angels. He has been grabbing a lot of rebounds with 7.9 per game, of which 6.9 are defensive. His insane athleticism along with his strength allows him to guard anyone if needed, and when players do get past him, he has the speed to recover and defend the rim. 

When looking at Jacob Goldstein’s Player Impact Plus-Minus (PIPM) metric, LeBron James comes out as third in the league with a hugely impressive 6.10. Looking at the Player Efficiency Rating (PER) metric James has a rating of 26.0, which is in the top 10 in the league. 

The 35-year-old superstar has been the focal point for this exceptional Lakers team. He has led the team to the top in a very competitive conference and has had some huge performances against other championship-contending sides. In the game against the Milwaukee Bucks on March 6, James had a sublime 37 points in 36 minutes. The game after that was against the Los Angeles Clippers in a great derby win where he had 28 points in 34 minutes. Both teams are very strong contenders and favourites to win the championship. James showed them what they should expect and fear in the playoffs.  

LeBron James have proven this season that he is an extremely strong candidate for the MVP award. At the age of 35 there’s still no sign of him slowing down. 

Navigate through the other MVP candidates via the link below.

NEXT: Giannis Antetokounmpo