Slow starts plagued the Lakers all of last season, and they seem to have followed them into the new campaign as well. They kicked off their championship defense with a rather flat effort against the Clippers in a 116-109 loss on Tuesday night.
While there are many takeaways that we could talk about, let’s focus on 4 things that stood out after Game 1.
Dennis Shröder Will Be Key this Season
One of the most impactful moves for LA this offseason was replacing veteran Rajon Rondo with the younger Dennis Shröder. So far, the move appears to be a stroke of genius for the Lakers. In his first meaningful game, Shröder stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points, 12 rebounds, and 8 assists.
He looked more comfortable in the offense next to James, and he should continue to receive easy looks in an offense where he will often be overlooked as a shooter. Overall, Shröder should continue to improve with a quality cast surrounding him whenever he is on the floor.
Marc Gasol is Still Finding his Footing
Many fans were excited about the addition of Marc Gasol, myself included. His basketball IQ and incredible passing ability make him a picture-perfect fit alongside LeBron and Anthony Davis, but there are other aspects that he still needs to work on.
Overall, Gasol’s conditioning still looks like it needs some work. He continued to look slow in his 12 minutes of action, and the fact that he grabbed his 5th foul early in the third didn’t help him out either. I still believe that Marc’s impact will be felt throughout the season, but this was a rough way to start his career in LA.
Threes Might Be a Problem
Last season, the Lakers shot 34.9% from beyond the arc, good for 21st in the league. Although it’s extremely early to make this kind of assessment accurately, the three-point shot may be a problem for this team once again. LA took a total of 29 threes against the Clippers but only made 9, leading to a 31% clip on the night. Dennis Shröder (40%) and LeBron (37.5%) had decent nights, but all others struggled to find any consistency.
Montrezl Harrell Will Be the 6th Man
Does it really count as the 6th man if you play the most minutes on the team? Harrell had a big night against his former club by logging 17 points and 10 rebounds in just over 32 minutes, and he provided some much-needed energy as well. He shot an efficient 6 of 7 from the field and did all of the dirty work, which is something that this Lakers team desperately needs. If Harrell can continue to play with this level of focus and intensity, the Lakers got a steal when they signed him.