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6 Former Lakers Players Are Playing Well On Other Teams

6 Former Lakers Players Are Playing Well On Other Teams

The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the most talented teams in the league, and the signing of LeBron James in free agency years ago changed the entire direction of the franchise. The Lakers were supposed to be a rebuilding team for the long haul, with 5 players capturing the bulk of the minutes on the squad. Times have truly changed because the presence of LeBron James makes everyone expendable in win-now situations.

That has been the case everywhere The King has been because his talent and skill are transcendent. At 6’9” and weighing 250 lbs, LeBron James has the size to impact the game in many areas and that is one of the main reasons he is considered one of the greatest to have ever played. For a squad with young players looking to develop, time is of the essence when an aging superstar of his skills is on the team. As a result, Los Angeles began competing for titles by trading for Anthony Davis and later Russell Westbrook.

But looking back, how did those young Lakers players fare? We know the Lakers franchise benefitted by capturing the 2020 title in “The Bubble” thanks to the win-now initiative, but what happened to the young core? The former Los Angeles Lakers core are prospering on many different teams at the moment and leaving their former franchise has done wonders for their careers. It is amazing how players can grow in different situations, and these five players have found their new homes after leaving the bright lights of Los Angeles.

Julius Randle

Julius Randle

Lakers Statistics: 13.5 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 2.6 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.5 BPG

Knicks Statistics: 21.8 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 4.7 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.4 BPG

No player benefitted more from leaving the Lakers than Julius Randle. The former low-post scorer has transformed his game and has seen his numbers skyrocket across the board. As a member of the Knicks, Randle averaged 19.5 PPG and 9.7 RPG in his first season with the team before taking his game to All-NBA status the following year. In 2021, Randle began shocking everyone with how he was playing. Formerly a low-post presence without much shooting ability, Randle was in his bag all year.

The 6’8” power forward averaged 24.1 PPG, 10.2 RPG, and 6.0 APG on 41.1% shooting from deep. Nobody expected the big man to showcase the dribbling and shooting abilities that led the Knicks into the playoffs last year, and he was after it from day one. Making his first All-Star appearance, Randle also made the All-NBA Third Team while bringing competitiveness to the Knicks franchise. With Julius Randle on board, the future is bright in New York which is why many Lakers fans wonder what Magic Johnson was thinking when he gave the big man away as soon as LeBron James became the face of the franchise.

Nonetheless, Randle has placed New York on the map and the franchise has begun building a playoff team with the additions of head coach Tom Thibodeau, Derrick Rose, Evan Fournier, and Kemba Walker. Randle was the heart of the Knicks’ evolution into a playoff team, and because of that, leaving the Lakers was the best thing that ever happened to his career. Playing with multiple stars such as James and Davis could have stunted his growth, as being a go-to guy on the team has taken his game to new levels.

Brandon Ingram

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

Lakers Statistics: 13.9 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 2.9 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.6 BPG

Pelicans Statistics: 23.8 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 4.5 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.6 BPG

Much like Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram blossomed into an All-Star player when he left the Lakers and went to a franchise that needed his talents. Ingram was included in the Anthony Davis trade, and the swingman began coming closer to the comparisons to Kevin Durant. Ingram was constantly being compared to Durant early in his career, and many felt the slender forward would never reach that level. With the Lakers, Ingram looked inconsistent and lacked the impact that Durant showed in his early year.

But as soon as he landed in New Orleans, Ingram began showing signs of improvement. In the first season with the Pelicans, Ingram averaged 23.8 PPG on 39.1% shooting from deep while chipping in 6.1 RPG and 4.2 APG. The 6’8” small forward began showing signs of being a primary playmaker and scorer, leading the Pelicans by making his first All-Star Team. With Zion Williamson on the roster as well, New Orleans acquired a big-time player to lead the franchise going forward with a very high ceiling.

Ingram might never be Anthony Davis, but he can be an All-Star for them for years to come. New Orleans needs to organize their Zion Williamson situation because the big man seems unimpressed with the franchise’s management at this point. If they can keep Zion interested in playing for New Orleans, his duo with Brandon Ingram could be a lighter version of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Lonzo Ball

Lonzo Ball

Lakers Statistics: 10.0 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 6.4 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.6 BPG

Bulls Statistics: 12.0 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.4 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.8 BPG

Lonzo Ball is a very polarizing figure because his critics continue to follow him as he starts his new phase with the Chicago Bulls. Lonzo was considered a disappointment in Los Angeles despite averaging 10.2 PPG, 6.9 RPG, and 7.2 APG in his rookie season as the No. 2 overall pick. Thanks to his father, LaVar Ball, Lonzo was generating a ton of hype from everyone following the NBA. Lonzo never lived up to the hype in Los Angeles, and his shooting (36.0% FG, 30.5% 3-PT FG) was a major issue.

That is why Lonzo was supposed to prosper in New Orleans when he arrived as part of the Anthony Davis trade. Lonzo averaged 13.1 PPG and 6.4 APG over two seasons with the franchise, but once again, his critics were not sold on his ability as a starting point guard. Ball showed improvements in his three-point shot (37.6%), which was a sign that he was working on his game to reach that next level. After signing with the Chicago Bulls this offseason, Ball continues to showcase his improved shooting (42.2%) and has begun to tune out the haters and focus on playing the game he loves.

Even if his numbers have not improved, Ball is making an impact with the Bulls because the team will be in the playoffs going forward. Chicago has an 8-4 record in the East so far, and Ball’s presence as a playmaker and defender is a big reason why. Lonzo might never have eye-popping statistics as an individual, but there is no denying he can help his team win games because of his high basketball IQ and unselfishness.

Kyle Kuzma

Kyle Kuzma

Lakers Statistics: 15.2 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.9 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.5 BPG

Wizards Statistics: 15.0 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 1.9 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.8 BPG

Kyle Kuzma has had an interesting career, to say the least. After bursting onto the scene as the No. 27 overall pick, the forward began finding himself unwanted on the Lakers. Kuzma was great in his rookie season, averaging 16.1 PPG and making the All-Rookie Team. With a team filled with young players including Ingram and Ball, it was Kuzma that was considered untouchable. The young man had no fear, attempting over 13 shots per game and appearing in 77 games. The following season, Kuzma took his scoring to 18.7 PPG on over 15 shots per game. Clearly, the Lakers had found a gem in the draft.

But his third season was a disappointment, and the Lakers knew that they had to move him for the sake of Russell Westbrook coming to town. Kuzma only put up 12.8 PPG in his third season, and even if the Lakers won the NBA championship, the player had very little to do with it. After being considered one of the brightest young players in the league, Kuzma became expendable in the Russell Westbrook trade. As things stand, Kuzma is back to playing his best ball by putting up a near double-double as he continues to improve his game.

Kuzma felt he was not being maximized with the Lakers, and is blossoming as a scoring threat from the power forward position. The forward is averaging 37.8% from three this season and is a big part of why the Washington Wizards hold a 9-3 record to lead the Eastern Conference. Kyle Kuzma is making his name relevant in the NBA again, and it won’t be long before he starts coming into his prime as an offensive threat. The Lakers’ experience was good for Kuz, but the Washington experience could be even better.

Jordan Clarkson

Jordan Clarkson

Lakers Statistics: 14.3 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.1 BPG

Jazz Statistics: 17.1 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2.1 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.2 BPG

Jordan Clarkson, like the other players on this list, has had a very interesting career up until this point. The scoring guard was drafted No. 46 overall and showed signs of potential by making the All-Rookie Team in his first season. He put up 11.9 PPG over 59 appearances, and the Lakers were willing to give him more minutes as he was a part of a rebuilding squad. Clarkson would average 15.5 PPG the following season, followed by 14.7 PPG in his third year. The guard had a ton of energy and could be a go-to guy off the bench for most teams.

But Los Angeles had seen enough, moving him to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a mid-season trade. Clarkson did well in only 28 games but blossomed into a 16.8 PPG scorer the following year. The guard was explosive, confident, and always took his chances when on the floor. But once again, Clarkson would be moved after finding his rhythm on the team. It seemed that the guard would never find a home that fit him best because he lacked defensive principles and was not much of a playmaker.

But that would be incorrect, as the Jazz found the perfect role for Clarkson. The guard averaged 18.4 PPG last season in only 26.7 MPG, capturing 6th Man of the Year. Jordan Clarkson was a massive part of the team that finished 1st in the Western Conference because his scoring ability was better than anyone else’s off the bench. The Jazz would not be where they are today if not for Clarkson’s presence as a scorer, and he has even improved his shooting. Clarkson took over 8 threes a game last year and could be on a path to continuously improve his range with more confidence.

Montrezl Harrell

Montrezl Harrell

Lakers Statistics: 13.5 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.7 BPG

Wizards Statistics: 18.3 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 2.3 APG, 0.6 SPG, 1.1 BPG

Montrezl Harrell had the worst season of his career with the Lakers since he started playing over 20 MPG. The big man was not the right fit in the rotation and was basically exiled come playoff time. He had his own off-court issues which affected him, but he was not the same player that he was with the Clippers.

For whatever reason, the Lakers did not allow Harrell to prosper alongside Anthony Davis. The big man cannot shoot the three and needs space to operate on the inside, something the Lakers could not offer him. Harrell was expected to leave the team this offseason, and he has found a home with the Washington Wizards where he is playing his best ball.

Harrell is averaging 18.3 PPG and 9.0 RPG with Washington this year, and the rebounding average is his career-high. Alongside Kyle Kuzma, Harrell is playing very well with the Wizards after leaving the Lakers and has a chance to possibly make the All-Star Team if his team holds onto a top-3 seed in the Eastern Conference until the All-Star break. 


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