2016-17 NBA Team Season Review: Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers have had another difficult season, but the future is bright.

2016-17 NBA Team Season Review: Los Angeles Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers had a promising start to the season, but along the way, it all fell apart. We review the highs, the lows, and what we can expect in the future.

BaldeepChahal
Baldeep Chahal

When the season commenced, Los Angeles Lakers fans were optimistic about what this current crop of youngsters could achieve, but they did not expect much. Franchise hero Kobe Bryant was gone, so what could these 'Baby Lakers' achieve?

Most of the discussion at the time was: Who’s going to improve? Does D'Angelo Russell really have what it takes to lead us going forward? Brandon Ingram; will he be a bust? Luol Deng's and Timofey Mozgov’s contracts received a huge amount of stick and who in the world is Ivica Zubac?

Anyway, the season began with an impressive 120-114 victory over now current third seed in the Western Conference, Houston Rockets. Russell impressed with a 20 point game, but the No. 7 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, Julius Randle, had a stellar night, with a stat line of 18 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. 

So, all was looking good for the upcoming season.

The Slump

However, the Lakers of recent memory reappeared, with a three-game losing streak that followed.

It then began to look like another disappointing season; a low finish, no playoff series, and prayers for another high pick. However, a win against the Atlanta Hawks sparked the start of something exciting.

A rejuvenated Nick Young began to prove his doubters wrong at the age of 31, finally locking it up on the defensive end and shooting 40.4 percent from three-point range, something he had not achieved since 2010.

Nick Young will continue to keep shooting until his arms fall off. Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images North America
Nick Young will continue to keep shooting until his arms fall off. Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images North America

Lou Williams and Jordan Clarkson provided double figures in points off the bench almost consistently, and what’s more, Russell and Randle began to shine. Head coach Luke Walton had this young side playing some fast paced, entertaining basketball.

During this successful stretch, the Lakers dismantled a healthy Golden State Warriors and even prevented the baby-faced assassin Steph Curry from making a single one of his 10 attempted three-pointers.  

Talk began of the Lakers finally reaching the playoffs once again, a feat they hadn't achieved since Kobe led them to the first round in the 2012-13 season, where they were swept by the San Antonio Spurs.

There was finally some optimism about the 'baby Lakers'. However, it was all short lived. 

Lou Williams had a short-lived stint with the Lakers. Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters
Lou Williams had a short-lived stint with the Lakers. Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

​The Start of 2017

December through to January was months to forget; following a 96-90 win over the Chicago Bulls back on Nov. 30, the Lakers were 10-10 in their first-20 games of the season. Things were shaping well until they slumped to an eight-game losing streak. 

From there onwards, Luke Walton's team really struggled to remember what a win was. It was painful to see such an anti-climax; all the hype in November that the Lakers were back on track and headed to the playoffs, to another season ending with the need to tank.

Least Memorable Moments for the Lakers

Some real lows were: the 137-101 loss to bottom of the West counterpart, the Phoenix Suns, and an additional blowout loss 133-109 to bitter rivals the Los Angeles Clippers.

Recognizing the need for a change, franchise owner Jeanie Buss fired general manager Mitch Kupchak and even her own brother, Jim Buss, in order to shake things up.

NBA Hall of Famer and Lakers legend Magic Johnson was appointed the president of basketball operations. It was a refreshing move to see, and one that needed to be made.

Lou Williams was then traded to the Houston Rockets for Cory Brewer and a first-round pick in order for the tank to be successful, as he almost single-handedly won games for the Lakers coming off the bench; not what you want when you're trying to tank, unfortunately.

Despite the doom and gloom, it's clear the team is lacking in experience, and still look to have a bright future. 

The Highlights of the Lakers' Season

There were a lot of positives to take from the season, too.

For example, when people asked 'who's Zubac?', you now see he was a great second-round pick with great potential.

Brandon Ingram has also improved considerably since the beginning of the season, now averaging 9.3 points, four rebounds, and two assists. He still needs to bulk up, but he has a great future ahead of him from where I'm standing.

Brandon Ingram was the No. 2 pick of the 2016 draft and looks to be worthy of it. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images North America
Brandon Ingram was the No. 2 pick of the 2016 draft and looks to be worthy of it.
Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images North America

Julius Randle has progressed and managed several impressive triple-doubles during the season. Russell, despite all the criticism, has proved at times why we picked him at No.2 pick in the 2015 draft.

He still needs to develop consistency, and he found a run of form when he was moved to the two guard, and even dropped 40 points on last year's champions the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Some people believe he was tried out at the shooting guard position in order for him to get a feel of where he'll play next season as potential No.1 pick, Lonzo Ball, who is also a point guard, has been heavily reported to be the Lakers' favored freshman.

A Look at the Lakers' Position in the NBA Draft

You've probably heard of Lonzo Ball, who looks to be quite the player coming out of UCLA. In a recent interview, he said:"l'll play for any team, but it would be a blessing to play for the Lakers."

Lonzo Ball would live his dream if he gets drafted by the Lakers. Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America
Lonzo Ball would live his dream if he gets drafted by the Lakers.
Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America

This, along with his father LaVar Ball, who you've surely heard of - stating he wants his son to play for the Lakers, makes it even more exciting and plausible. 

Lakers would be seriously unlucky to lose their top-three pick to the Philadelphia 76ers given their low finish this season, which should almost guarantee they keep it, but that's not how the draft works, unfortunately.

Ball would be a great fit for the Lakers, there are many top prospects coming out of this draft that L.A. would not be disappointed in getting instead; the likes of UNC's Josh Jackson, University of Kentucky's Malik Monk or De'Aaron Fox.

All in all, it's been another season for the team to grow and build for the future, and hopefully soon, the Lakers will be back to where they belong, competing for Championships.

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