The Los Angeles Lakers are leaving China winless in two NBA preseason games against the Brooklyn Nets, and a fresh injury to Anthony Davis’ thumb may be cause for a bit of concern. However, despite those setbacks and the tense political situation that exists between China and the NBA, the trip still provided plenty of information for the Lakers to take back as they prepare for the regular season.
On the Lakers Nation Podcast, host Trevor Lane takes a look at three things that were learned from the team’s third preseason game.
First and foremost, the Lakers discovered, not surprisingly, that they struggle when LeBron James and Anthony Davis aren’t on the floor. With Davis dealing with a thumb injury and James only playing in the first quarter as the team hopes to keep him fresh, coach Frank Vogel looked to other players to step up in their absence. It did not go well.
While the first quarter showed promise with the Lakers stars joining role players, from there things went downhill, with the team’s guards particularly struggling. Alex Caruso, Rajon Rondo, Danny Green, and Zach Norvell shot a combined 3-for-27 from the field. Many of those misses were even more damaging than usual because they gave the Nets opportunities to get into transition, which they used to punish the Lakers.
While Avery Bradley was a bit better at 6-13 shooting, he missed all four of his three-point attempts, which makes him 0-for-7 in three preseason games from behind the arc. If the Lakers are going to be able to take advantage of his defensive intensity he needs to at least provide spacing on the offensive end by knocking down shots.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had probably the most consistent game of the Lakers guards, but the team is going to need a lot more out of their cadre of creators during the regular season.
Fortunately, the team’s bigs did pick up some of the slack. JaVale McGee was particularly good, looking explosive on both ends and showcasing a pretty spin move and pump fake that culminated in the dunk of the day. Based on the last three games, he should be well ahead of Dwight Howard in the race for the team’s starting center spot.
Finally, we also saw that the travel and distractions associated with being in China took a toll on the Lakers. The team looked out of sync, and while much of that can be rectified when James and Davis are on the floor (not to mention the eventual return of Kyle Kuzma), getting back to Los Angeles certainly won’t hurt.