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There’s Still Reason to be Optimistic About the Lakers

David Blair/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire

The Los Angeles Lakers are bad. There aren’t very many redeemable qualities that they currently show us on any given night. Byron Scott is apparently my neighbor who yells at cats walking across the yard; Kobe Bryant shoots so many times that his arthritis is showing; and this season can be described best if you were to Google “negative adjectives best used to describe death warmed over” and then walk away as your computer explodes.

That is the bad. The very, incredibly real, and mostly expired milk tasting bad.

However, there are reasons to hold up your head high if you’re one of those wayward, lonely, and currently deprived of a decent product, Lakers fans. They continue to have a young nucleus of guys who might help pave the way for a better future in Los Angeles.

Now, that said, we must stamp a little note right here to play it as safely as possible: All of the potential paving for a better future is IF — and that’s a big IF — Byron Scott stops going out of his way to prevent the development and confidence of his young building blocks.

Really, the future of the organization — outside of future draft picks — rests in the hands of people not named Byron Scott or Jelly Bean Jr. Both of those guys will be gone by the time the Lakers are even bordering on competent.

Enter the not yet broken by Byron Scott: Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, and D’Angelo Russell.

The potential for these three guys can be seen on any given night. The issue being that Byron Scott continues to defend Kobe Bryant’s ability to hurl up a plethora of shots at the basket as if he were taking necessary medicines rather than unneeded, unwarranted, and ill-advised attempts at getting buckets.

It has, is and will continue to stunt their growth as players.

While that provides an atmosphere for young players becoming less engaged, losing their self-worth in the process, and questioning life as they know it, the Lakers’ young, but-not-yet-big, three have been more productive than one should actually expect while having to take entire offensive sets off to witness Kobe do Kobe.

Eh, everyone misses a shot here and there…

And there…

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Okay. Simply pretend I inserted all of Jelly Bean’s 16 floor attempts per game (32 percent) and all of his six three-point attempts per night (20 percent) because they are almost all — with nearly no exception — ball-in-hand heavy, isolation for desperation, rhythm, and soul-killing attempts at the bucket.

Despite that, and with very little regards for whatever Byron Scott’s reasons are for allowing such a thing to keep happening, the core future three (someone get these guys a nickname) are doing relatively well.

Clarkson is averaging 16 points per game on 49 percent shooting from the floor and 46 percent from distance; Randle has provided a solid 11 points and nine boards per; while Russell has been battling the beast that is Scott’s inability to use him in any normal way, for a somewhat misleading box-score of 10-4-3.

None of those numbers — sans Clarkson’s — appear to be all that awesome, but all mathematical equations for those guys need to be hurled out the window. Not a one of them—not even Clarkson whom it seems Scott trusts the most outside of Kobe—is afforded the luxury of being able to play consistent, normal basketball because the farewell tour for Kobe Bryant looks like what I would imagine a Rolling Stones’ version would if they were to try to play tonight.

Seriously. Imagine it. Because it is the same thing. Kobe is Mick Jagger, Metta Wolrd Peace is Keith Richards, and the three young teammates would be if the Stones tried to infuse some youth by bringing in a slew of young musicians. Sure, some of the background music MIGHT sound better, but the newly added Stones’ members wouldn’t sound so great as Mick is slurring through Satisfaction and Richards is playing his guitar as if he were stepping on shards of glass.

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We aren’t going to truly know what the Lakers have until they go full-blown youth movement. While their roster screams that this is the route, they should be currently headed, the way that the team is managed on the hardwood says that the future isn’t now, or soon, or won’t be until Kobe starts attempting 50-foot bombs at the local Y during the day and not in a professional capacity.

Even with that being said, even while the proof isn’t as obvious as we normally like, the Los Angeles Lakers have three legitimate NBA Players. All three who seem good enough to be good-to-great. Which is something afforded to very few franchises as they are rebuilding during a time while trying to balance one of the team’s biggest stars in their history having a little swansong moment by way of ruining any meaningful development.

So, yeah… Los Angeles isn’t going to get better this season. In fact, they are more likely to get worse. The good news is not only should we expect Randle, Clarkson, and Russell to be even better next year, but they won’t have to fight against their own coach and superstar teammate to showcase it all.

As for the rest of us, I think it is time to acknowledge that Boys II Men lied to us all because I am starting to think it will be easier than they led us to believe.

It is going to be really easy, actually. Eh, I digress — In the interest of keeping on with the positive vibes, though, let’s end this on a high-note:

That’s so Lakers…

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