Tyronn Lue and Darvin Ham have both had their fair share of disappointment to deal with to start the season, though the former’s problems will seem insignificant compared to the latter.
While Ham is being forced to field questions about the makeup of the Lakers’ payroll being too weighted towards failing stars, Lue’s toughest questions have come in the form of consistent requests for updates around the fitness of Kawhi Leonard, while his team have still been able to get the job done more often than not. Both those ongoing inquests will have long-term impacts on the collective ambitions of Los Angeles basketball, but one side of that still looks in much better shape than the other.
So what does the start of the season tell us about both teams and their respective ambitions?
At worst, the Clippers may need to have a rethink of theirs, especially if Leonard can’t be relied upon to stay healthy for a prolonged period of time. The Lakers though will definitely have to realign theirs, particularly given the strength of playoff contenders in the West, and the strong starts of rebuilding teams like the Utah Jazz. They may yet be able to profit off the latter’s successes though, if they can scrape together the assets to pick up some of the players that are starring in Utah right now to build up their depth — a situation I’m sure the Clippers will also have a keen eye on.
The team this side of ‘The Crypt’ is already starting to answer some of the questions surrounding its slow start to the season on the court, with Paul George leading them to four wins in their last five matchups.
While fans have been waiting for Reggie Jackson and Norman Powell to come to the party, it’s Ivica Zubac and more recently Terance Mann that have stood up and taken on extra offensive responsibilities to help drag their teammates over the line. The signs of recovery are there, but consistency is required to give us hope that we can have a successful season even if Kawhi doesn’t feature as much as we’d like.
If there’s any positive from the other side of L.A., it’s that Russell Westbrook and the fans seem to be working on building their relationship with each other, as the one-time MVP adapts to becoming a bench player. The Clippers will need to be wary of his influence, but otherwise they’ll know that their opponents will need to dig much deeper into their bag of tricks to get anything from this game.
Both sides of the city have their own battles right now, but directly on the court, only one can be genuinely optimistic about bringing silverware back to the 213 this season.
The Clippers will tip off against the Lakers at 7:00 PM PST. All nationally televised NBA games can be watched on SlingTV.