After going 3-5 during the preseason, the Los Angeles Lakers open up their regular season against the young Minnesota Timberwolves, who went 2-5 in exhibition play.
This primetime game, which will be televised on ESPN, will feature the league’s 2015 top two draft picks, Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell. So far, Towns has been promising, averaging 11.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks during the preseason. Meanwhile, Russell has been faltering, putting up 6.9 points and 3.3 assists on an abysmal 38.6 percent shooting per contest.
Russell’s woes have been so horrific that Coach Byron Scott has not committed to starting the rookie out of Ohio State in this opening night game.
“I don’t know that yet,” Scott responded when asked whether Russell would start.
However, the other four starters have been confirmed for the Lakers which consist of Roy Hibbert, Julius Randle, Kobe Bryant, and Jordan Clarkson. Bryant and Clarkson are both recovering from injuries and were given the green light to play after Tuesday’s practice.
Bryant suffered a leg contusion against the Sacramento Kings during the preseason and has not played a game since. Clarkson sustained a shoulder injury in the final preseason game against the Golden State Warriors but will be ready for game one.
Both the Timberwolves and Lakers are in a similar situation. Both teams are in a rebuilding process, possessing a hoard of young, talented players who are looking to showcase their prowess this year.
For the Lakers, Julius Randle had an amazing preseason, displaying his ability to attack the rim, finish around the rim, and ball handle. Randle was playing with extreme confidence during exhibition play after suffering a season-ending leg injury last season during opening night.
Losing weight this offseason has allowed Randle to break down defenses with his dribble and has given him more speed. After ending his season short last year, Randle is expected to come out with a chip on his shoulder this season.
Another player to keep an eye on for the Lakers is Kobe Bryant. The long-time veteran has been dismantled by injuries over the last couple seasons and is hoping to finally cash in a fully healthy year. Of course Bryant will not play heavy minutes and promises to play more off the ball to allow the young guys to excel.
For the Timberwolves, all eyes will be on 2015 Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins. After proving his worth last season, Wiggins is projected to have a borderline All-Star year this season. Late last season, he demonstrated his scoring prowess and rebounded significantly well.
With Wiggins and Towns in tow, along with the athletic Zach LaVine and a couple other young pieces, Minnesota’s future is awfully bright. They are expected to be one of the most entertaining young teams in the league.
The Wolves also have a collection of veterans to mentor their youngsters. Kevin Garnett decided to return for a 21st season this summer, and the team also brought in Andre Miller and Tayshaun Prince.
With two young teams looking to prove themselves, this should be an exciting matchup. The Lakers are looking to bounce back from a franchise-worst season, while the Wolves are looking to end a long playoff drought.
The game will take place at the STAPLES Center at 10:30 pm Eastern Time.