We got our first glimpse of the new-look Lakers on Thursday night, as LeBron James appeared in his first regular season game for the franchise in Portland against the Trail Blazers. While the Lakers stuck with the Blazers for three quarters, Portland ultimately pulled away in the fourth, securing a 128-119 win.
There were plenty of positive takeaways for the Lakers. Second-year guard guard Josh Hart had a great game off the bench and already looks to be pushing for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s starting job; the team played at a breakneck pace that allowed for plenty of transition opportunities; and, of course, LeBron looked like LeBron.
Still, two potential flaws with the Lakers’ roster that we heard about throughout the offseason were on display in the club’s first game. L.A. struggled from beyond the arc, missing its first 15 three-pointers and making just seven of 30 attempts for the game. No one besides Hart made more than a single three, prompting veteran free agent Nick Young to seemingly tweet his case for roster consideration after the game, as Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype relays (via Twitter).
In the view of Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report (via Twitter), the Lakers will be fine without elite three-point shooting, but could badly use a “serviceable” big man for 10-12 minutes per game. JaVale McGee played 22 minutes for the Lakers on Thursday, but the team didn’t use another traditional center, leaving forward like Kyle Kuzma or James as the de facto fives in certain lineups. Pincus suggests (via Twitter) that perhaps Moritz Wagner could help out when he gets healthy, but until then, the Lakers may have to lean too heavily on small-ball lineups that should only be used in moderation.
Of course, it was only one game, and given the time it took LeBron to adjust to new teams in Miami in 2010 and Cleveland in 2014, it only makes sense that we should give the Lakers some leeway to figure things out as well. James made that point after the game, as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com relays.
“I always kind of compare it to like instant oatmeal — it is not that fast,” James said of developing chemistry. “It takes a while to get to where you can close your eyes and know exactly where your guys are.
“We’re literally less than a month in,” LeBron added, referring to the Lakers having opened training camp in late September. “So, it’s still early. You still got to go through some things. You’re going to go through some adversity. See how guys react to it. See what guys get going.”
What do you think? Will this Lakers team be fine once it gets another 15 or 20 games under its belt, or does this roster have flaws that will need to be addressed sooner or later in order to seriously compete with the best of the West? Join the discussion in the comment section below!