With Anthony Davis and LeBron James, the Lakers are enjoying the luxury and peace that comes with being true Championship contenders. But t wasn’t always that way.
In fact, just a few years ago, the Lakers were in the midst of a hard rebuild as they worked to try and develop their young stars. With the Purple and Gold finally good again, and nearly all of their young/rebuilding players gone, it has us wondering: how are some of those guys doing nowadays?
Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell, Larry Nance Jr., Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Kyle Kuzma, and Lonzo Ball were all once considered essential members of the Lakers, and all but one (Kuzma) has been traded or let go in free agency.
Unfortunately, none have found very much success in their new teams.
Clarkson and Nance are still in Cleveland as a result of the Isaiah Thomas/Channing Frye trade. While both are good bench players for the Cavs, the team is tied for the second-worst record in the Conference.
D’Angelo Russell, the former #2 overall pick, is in Golden State after being traded from L.A. to Brooklyn in 2017. His individual numbers are great (he is posting career-highs in several categories) but, again, the Warriors have not been so lucky. As things stand today, they are literally the worst team in the NBA with a record of 5-24 on the season.
Julius Randle, drafted in 2014, was on the Lakers for four seasons before eventually being allowed to walk in free agency, when he chose the Pelicans in 2018. After his short stint in New Orleans, he traveled to New York hoping to help turn things around. Instead, after a mid-season firing of head coach David Fizdale, the Knickerbockers are right where they’ve been for years: at the bottom. They hold the East’s second-worst record at 7-21.
Of course, let’s not forget the trio currently playing in NOLA. After trade talks lurked over the team all of last season, the Lakers were finally able to pull off the Anthony Davis trade, giving up most of the remaining young core in return. Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and Lonzo Ball are some of the new and exciting faces in New Orleans. But, as is the case with most young squads, they are struggling, having lost 9 of their last 10 games, and sitting with the second-worst record in the conference.
After all the hype surrounding these young studs, and the criticism the Lakers received after giving all of them up, it’s unfortunate that they have yet to really find success with their new teams.
True, some of them (like Ingram) are having breakout seasons. But considering where they are in their respective teams, and where the Lakers currently sit (at the top of the West), it might be time to admit the team made the right call in their pursuit of proven star-power over young projects.
Hopefully, though, each of the guys ends up finding their way — just like the Lakers have this season.