Here is what you need to know before the Lakers don their MPLS threads for a meeting with the Washington Wizards.
1) Clarkson’s quest is off to a promising start
Before the season, President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson challenged Jordan Clarkson to become this season’s Sixth Man of the Year.
The 25-year-old accepted and, through three games, has made good on his promise. Not only are his 19.7 points per night the best average on the Lakers, they also lead all of the NBA’s reserves.
And while the sample size is tiny just a week into the season, Clarkson’s efficiency has been a positive sign, as he has shot 51.1 percent from the field, 7-of-14 on 3-pointers and 6-of-7 at the foul line.
Clarkson was the leader during a 29-5 Lakers run on Sunday, which turned a 21-point deficit to the Pelicans into a fourth-quarter lead.
The combo guard paved the way with a mix of scoring — pairs of 3-pointers (including a four-point play) and layups — and playmaking, dishing out four assists as the primary ball handler.
2) The rooks are already making a difference
When it comes to first-year players, no one has a brighter spotlight on them than Lonzo Ball.
The 19-year-old has performed well in the first week of his career, ranking sixth in the NBA in assists (8.7) and third among guards in rebounds (9.3).
Meanwhile, 27th pick Kyle Kuzma made his presence felt during the aforementioned run last game, finishing that night with 20 points and joining Ball as the first rookies to hit that scoring mark this season.
And Josh Hart, selected 30th overall, is finally getting to show his skills after injuries limited him in Summer League and preseason. The First Team All-American got 15 minutes of run last game and stood out defensively, while also chipping in five points and four rebounds.
3) Wall does it all
For the first time in 15 years, the Lakers will break out their classic MPLS uniforms that they wore during their five-championship run in Minnesota.
Now the challenge is for their play to look as good as their jerseys.
The task is a tall one: knocking off a 3-0 Wizards team led by four-time all-star John Wall.
Last time out, Lonzo dished out 13 assists, matching Wall’s mark in 2010 for the most by a player within the first three games of his career since at least 1983.
In the meantime, Washington center Marcin Gortat made waves by tweeting that Wall “will torture (Ball) for 48min. [sic]” Wall — the fastest player in the NBA — has certainly made life miserable for opponents in the past, averaging 23.1 points last year, while ranking second in the NBA in assists (10.7) and steals (2.0).
And the Lakers can’t sleep on Bradley Beal (23.1 ppg) or Gortat himself (10.8 ppg, 10.4 rpg) in their mission to beat Washington at home for the first time since 2010.
Wizards: Jason Smith (sprained right shoulder) is questionable. Markieff Morris (sports hernia surgery), Sheldon Mac (left Achilles surgery) and Devin Robinson (stress fracture, left foot) are out.
Tip-Off: 7:30 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum Deportes in L.A. ESPN nationally
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Unis: MPLS Blue
Location: STAPLES Center — Los Angeles, California
Click here to view game notes for this contest.