Lakers basketball is finally back. The purple and gold tip off their preseason slate in Anaheim on Saturday, ending a five-month wait to hit the court.
With so many new faces on the squad, there are some big questions looking to be answered in the exhibition opener.
How will Lonzo look?
All eyes will be on Lonzo Ball for his preseason debut, as the 19-year-old takes his eye-popping passing ability to Anaheim.
Ball dominated at Summer League, breaking the event’s assists record and recording two triple-doubles en route to MVP honors. But this will be his first time matching up against the grown men of the NBA.
However, Ball is heading into the preseason opener with plenty of momentum, having led his teams to a 6-0 record during the Lakers’ training-camp scrimmages.
Expect a lot of transition play in this exhibition opener, which means plenty of chances for Ball to show off on the fast break.
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Who will start at center?
Brook Lopez (back spasms) and Andrew Bogut (visa issues) are both ruled out for Saturday’s game, leaving the Lakers with a hole at the five.
Head coach Luke Walton has two options: Go 7-footer big or power forward small.
Sophomore Ivica Zubac started 11 games for the Lakers last year and, like Lopez and Bogut, is a true center. However, Walton might decide to experiment in preseason by starting a small-ball lineup.
The combination of Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr. is an intriguing one that could pair nicely with Ball’s skill set.
While neither power forward offers as much spacing as Lopez, Walton considers them the fastest fours in the league, which means they have a better shot of keeping up with Ball’s “no such thing as too fast” style of play.
How sloppy will this be?
Walton isn’t expecting a textbook display of basketball from his players, who have only been practicing for four days.
In fact, the head coach claimed that the team hasn’t had time to put in any of its half-court offense, though it has worked on its transition and secondary offense.
On the other side, the Timberwolves — boasting Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Jeff Teague — have a new crew that they’re trying to mesh together, so there are likely to be some unsightly stretches on both ends.
Still, some sloppiness actually might be a benefit for Lonzo, who thrives in chaotic situations by seeing the play develop in advance and making the play that no one sees coming.
Tip-Off: 7 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum Deportes in L.A. NBA TV nationally.