It has just been a couple of months since the Lakers were crowned champions in the bubble, but the NBA is officially back with preseason games getting underway last night.
The defending champions started their preseason games with a matchup against their intercity rival, the Los Angeles Clippers. The Lakers, who were without stars Lebron James and Anthony Davis, opted to give big minutes to their new additions, like Dennis Schröder and Montrezl Harrell, as well as key bench players, such as Kyle Kuzma and Talen Horton-Tucker.
The Purple & Gold started their preseason off strong as they emerged victorious in their matchup with the Clippers, with a final score of 87-81.
Even without their two all-star forwards, the Lakers played marvellously thanks to some players stepping up to the occasion. Let’s take a look at some of the players who definitely impressed in last night’s game.
Facing his former team, Montrezl Harrell did not hold back whatsoever as he brought the energy right from the get-go. Harrell got the start at center, and he did not disappoint as he finished with a double-double of 13 points and 12 rebounds. You could see that he wanted to impress the organization and the fans in his first game at the other side of Staples Center. Harrell will be a key player off the bench, and his energy will be certainly needed to give the Lakers that extra scoring boost.
Entering his fourth year with the team, Kyle Kuzma will be playing a key role in the second lineup of the Lakers. Kuz’ scoring dipped last season from nearly 19 points per game in 2019, to a little under 13 points per game due to the arrival of Anthony Davis who got the starting spot at Power Forward. But Kuz did not complain as he embraced his role and played a crucial role in the Lakers championship run.
Kuz started off slow in the game against the Clippers, but he picked it up in the second half of the game to help lead the Lakers to the victory. He finished the game with 18 points, 5 assists, and a +14 differential. Look for Kyle Kuzma to continue improving and being one of the top scorers for the Lakers even if he plays off the bench.
The 46th pick in the 2019 NBA draft is looking to play more minutes in his sophomore year with the Lakers. Talen Hotron-Tucker, also known as “THT”, barely played with the Lakers last year as he spent most of the season with the South Bay Lakers in the G-League. He impressed in his time in the G-League as he averaged 18.1 points, 6.2 assists and 4.0 rebounds in 38 appearances with the G-League affiliate of the Lakers. He also played 6 games in the NBA, mostly playing the seeding games in the bubble where he also impressed in his limited playing time.
THT looked like he was ready to go last night as he got the start and showed everyone that he is deserving of more minutes this coming season. He finished with 19 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals in 37 minutes of play. He showed his whole arsenal playing great defense, handling the ball well, and even hitting a couple shots from the outside. Talen is giving a lot of Laker fans something to be excited about as he is only 20 years old and really showing a lot of promise. Don’t be surprised if he does get a bigger role this coming season as he has definitely shown improvement.
The Lakers quest to repeat is looking good so far, as these three players are looking ready to help Lebron and AD to back to back titles. The next preseason game for the Purple & Gold is tomorrow night against the Clippers once again.
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