It’s a new day in LA-LA Land with LeBron James at the helm.
We know the long list of accomplishments that LeBron James has like the backs of our hands: eight consecutive NBA Finals appearances, four MVPs, three NBA championships and so on… But arguably, his toughest battle comes as he is now the face of the Los Angeles Lakers.
With the arrival of King James, Laker fans are poised to see their franchise record of missing the playoffs for five straight seasons come to a halt.
With an arsenal of young talent and established veterans, there are many who will benefit from the arrival of the king, but who on the Lakers roster will benefit the most?
1. Kyle Kuzma
The 23-year-old from the University of Utah is coming off a successful rookie season in which he was named NBA All-Rookie First Team while averaging 16.1 points (tied for most on the team). Not only is his trajectory on the up-and-up, his play style looks to be a near perfect match next to LeBron’s drive and kick style of play. It is a known that LeBron prefers shooters on the wings and Kuzma can do just that. Last year, Kuzma set the franchise record for made threes by a rookie with a 159 made. With increased pressure on the cylinder by LeBron, Kuzma, along with other Laker shooters, should see good looks from beyond the arc, unlike last season.
2. Brandon Ingram
6’10″ with a 7’3″ wingspan is unique for a forward with guard skills. “B.I.” is coming into his third season and is expected to make the biggest leap of all the Lakers’ youngsters as he showed flashes as both a scorer and facilitator a year ago.
Ingram was tied with Kyle Kuzma for most points averaged on the team, but expectations are even higher for the former second overall pick. Ingram has all of the tools to become the two-way star that the Lakers have long coveted, but can he become Robin to LBJ’s Batman?
At age 20, Ingram has time to reach his potential, but time is ticking in Los Angeles as LeBron is 34 and is in win now mode. If Ingram doesn’t meet expectations, he could be on his way out like another ex-Laker who was a second overall pick in D’Angelo Russell.
3. Lonzo Ball
Of the players listed to be beneficiaries of LeBron, Ball is by far the most polarizing. Zo averaged 10.2 points, 7.2 assists, along with 6.9 rebounds. His all-around game is undeniable, but his poor efficiency as a shooter is alarming even for a rookie.
Ball shot 30.5 percent from deep, but his success didn’t come until late in the season. If he can become an average shooter, we are looking at a nightly triple double threat. His quick decision making along with his intangibles should mesh well with LeBron in a free flowing offense. If Zo can’t find his shooting touch, he not only hurts his game but it clogs up the floor for LeBron and other teammates. In order for the Lakers to reach maximum potential, Lonzo must find his shot and scoring prowess.
LeBron will bring a sense of urgency to the Lakers which should speed up the progression for many of the young studs. It is up to the young core to exceed expectations in order to establish themselves as a new powerhouse in the Western Conference.