Just how good are the LeBron James led Los Angeles Lakers going to be?
Predictions have ranged from a three seed to out of the playoffs, and Las Vegas set the under/over for wins at 48.5. The only safe bet is that they are going to be in the middle of the playoff fight in a stacked and difficult West where the margin between the three seed and being out as the ninth seed will be very slim.
Michael Beasley is one of the new Lakers, and he has confidence in this squad — and all the other veterans like him who were added to the young core — will make it work. Here is what he told Bleacher Report.
But I think we’re a team that will be able to decide our own fate by how hard we work and how much we’re willing to sacrifice physically and mentally. I’m not going to put my foot in my mouth and say we’re going to win 25 championships or 75 games, no. But I’m confident that we got a group of guys that wants to play basketball the right way, wants to win and work hard. With that being said, I think we can be exactly where we want to be at the end of the year.
Spoken like a veteran, although “exactly where we want to be” can be interpreted a lot of ways. Management wants to be competitive while maintaing cap space for next summer, the Lakers likely will do exactly that. The players want to be contenders, but that seems an overreach. Does Beasley expect a roster with a lot of new faces to mesh well?
I don’t know for sure because we haven’t gotten together yet, but first thoughts: Running and spacing the floor will be so fun this year. It’s rare you play with three guys who average seven-plus assists, and we have it. For us to average 30 assists per game this year, I wouldn’t be surprised if we get somewhere around that number.
Assists have two parts: The pass and the made shot. Count me among the skeptics that envision the lack of shooting on this roster catching up with the Lakers and holding them back from being elite. That can be addressed via trade or players stepping up, but that is the most glaring concern on paper, and the lineups Luke Walton puts on the floor will evolve to where he finds guys who can space the floor. There are a lot of shot creators on this roster, a lot of high IQ guys, but if teams can clog the paint there isn’t room for anyone to operate.
Beasley, I expect, will have a solid season. He’s a guy with a role in the NBA now as a bench scorer, and while he told Bleacher Report he’d like more stability, he understands that doesn’t often come with his role. He’s matured. He gets it.
The Lakers are going to be good, a playoff team (barring major injuries), but just how good remains to be seen. Beasley is likely right, the Lakers after the All-Star break likely will have found a groove and be pretty dangerous, they just can’t stumble too much getting there. The West will be unforgiving this season.