The Los Angeles Lakers have a roster full of potential. They have one of the best young coaches in the NBA in Luke Walton, plus a roster of players with an average age of 27-years-old, leaving them with a rebuild that seems to be headed in the right direction.
That said, the Lakers have 10 players who are 30 or younger, some of whom are expected to be the future of the franchise, and some who might not be on the roster in the foreseeable future. Of those 10 Lakers players, eight of them are 25 and younger, and four of those players are 22 and under.
What makes the future exciting for the Lakers is the fact they have players who haven’t hit the prime of their careers, and those same players should only improve with more time in the NBA. They enter Friday night with a 13-26 record through the first 39 games of the season, nearing the overall total they had for all of last season when they finished 17-65.
Now, with what should be a good future ahead of them, the Lakers keep working at rebuilding their franchise to what it once used to be when the “Showtime” Lakers ruled part of the ’80s and the Shaq and Kobe Lakers of the 2000s dominated. How they get back to that level is by rebuilding through the draft, free agency, and possible trades.
Until the Lakers make any trade they are rumored to be a part of, and before the offseason this summer, let’s take a look at one opinion of the five best players on the Lakers roster who are 25-years-old or younger. The following Lakers players are listed by rank, name, and age.
1. D’Angelo Russell (20): The second overall pick of the 2015 NBA Draft, Russell has the most potential on the Lakers roster. The Lakers point guard averages 15.5 points per game, 4.5 assists per game, and 3.4 rebounds per game.
Averaging 27.2 minutes per game this season, Russell has started to see a little more playing time in his past four games, averaging 32.5 mpg. He’s increased his ppg from a season ago (13.2), his assists are up one more per game, and his rebounds are the same. It will be exciting to see the progression of Russell through this season, and in future NBA seasons, but who knows, he might become a part of a trade by the Lakers one day if the offer is strong enough.
2. Julius Randle (22): Another first-round pick by the Lakers, Randle was highly touted when he entered the league three seasons ago. Though this is technically his second year on the court after missing 81 games in his rookie season with an injury, Randle’s play has improved over last year, including two triple-doubles and three for his Lakers career.
In 34 games this season, Randle averages 13.7 ppg and 8.7 rpg, The 6-9, 250-pound Lakers forward is having a great January after three games with a 17.0 ppg and 10.7 rpg, playing above his season average. Maybe the most exciting Lakers player to watch grow throughout the rest of this NBA season and the future, Randle must be a part of the rebuild for years to come for the Lakers to be a success in future seasons.
3. Jordan Clarkson (24): There is a lot to like about the game of Clarkson as he averages 14.2 ppg this season playing just 27.8 mpg. Another Lakers point guard, Clarkson shoots nearly 45 percent from the field and 35 percent from beyond the arc. This year being just his third season in the NBA, there is still plenty of room for the Lakers guard to improve.
4. Brandon Ingram (19): Still a teenager, the Lakers’ 2016 first-round pick (second overall) is just 19 years old, and coming from a program like Duke, he has to have some potential to become a star for the Lakers as his NBA career is just beginning. He’s averaging 7.4 ppg with 4.1 rpg, leaving room for improvement in 39 games (11 starts).
That said, his improvement will continue because at such a young age, he’s playing not at just the highest level of basketball, but he’s learning the NBA game while playing in the Western Conference, which is no easy feat. Playing nearly 28 mpg, Ingram’s scoring and minutes will increase as his career moves along, leaving a lot to achieve for the NBA rookie.
5. Thomas Robinson (25): The veteran on this list, Robinson plays hard and is a great role player on the Lakers. He plays 11.7 mpg, and in 26 games this year, he’s scored 4 ppg and has an average of nearly 5 rpg this season. He is needed on the Lakers for his defense and could see more playing time with Tarik Black as the Lakers season continues.
[Featured Image by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images]