The Jordan Clarkson Puzzle: To Trade or Not

Jordan Clarkson Los Angeles Lakers

Despite being one of the leaders, JC’s name has been making noise in the trade talks.

After beating the Houston Rockets which ended the Rockets’ winning streak, the Los Angeles Lakers are back to their old habit of losing tons of games as they are riding on a 4-game losing streak which started against the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day. They have dropped 7 of their last 10 games which put them in 13th place in the Western Conference with an 11-22 record.
While there’s no denying the fact that it has been a disappointing season for the Purple and Gold despite having Lonzo Ball AND Kyle Kuzma leading them, we just have to admit the fact that there have been notable bright spots for the Lakers despite their struggles. Aside from the emergence of Kyle Kuzma as the new star of the team, Jordan Clarkson’s continuous improvement has been noted by pundits and believe that Jordan Clarkson has been an important piece who keepse3 the Lakers winning in some of their games. In 33 games that he played this season so far, starting in two games, Jordan Clarkson has been averaging 14 points per game- the third-leading scorer of the Lakers, while playing for 22 minutes. 
However,  Jordan Clarkson’s name has been included in numerous trade rumors over the past few weeks. Here’s the thing, folks. As of now, there’s no assurance that either Paul George or LeBron James will make the big jump to Hollywood so letting go of a good player such as Clarkson will make no sense as of the moment. And even pundits in the United States are believing that the Lakers won’t pull the trigger and trade a potential star in Clarkson anytime soon. Why? Just imagine if Jordan Clarkson isn’t around. The Lakers would have been in a much worse state than where they are right now. 
Another thing: the Lakers don’t have their pick so trading Clarkson definitely won’t make sense. 

Conclusion

Unless PG13 or the King goes on to sign with the Lakers come July 2018, the Lakers will need Jordan Clarkson around because even if he is only averaging 14 points a game, replacing someone who can score that much will be a headache because of the fact that Lonzo Ball is still struggling offensively. 

The Numbers Don’t Lie: Kyle Kuzma SHOULD Be an All-Star

He’s outplaying other rookies including Lonzo Ball.

Over the course of the season, almost everyone is saying the same thing: Kyle Kuzma is definitely the steal of the draft. And the Los Angeles Lakers have the Brooklyn Nets to thank for. 
Imagine if the Lakers didn’t trade D’Angelo Russell to the Nets in exchange for Brook Lopez and the rights to pick Kuzma, the 27th pick in the 2017 Draft, the Lakers would have been in a much worse situation owing to Lonzo Ball’s struggles in terms of putting the ball into the basket.  Of course, Lonzo Ball is getting more attention from the media because of the tremendous amount of hype that he got even before the draft and of course, thanks to his equally famous father, LaVar Ball.
While many fans initially thought that Lonzo Ball would be the new face of a franchise who has been enduring long spells of no playoff appearances, they are dead wrong. Who is the Lakers’ scoring leader this season? Not Lonzo Ball. Not Brandon Ingram. It’s the guy wearing the #0, Kyle Kuzma.
Kuzma has been averaging 18 points per game while playing for 31 minutes. He’s making 49% of his shot attempts including 41% of his attempts from the three-point line- leading the Lakers. But what made people go crazy and began campaigning for Kuzma to play in the All-Star Game is his performance in the last two weeks. How good ios Kuzma during that period?
  • 26 points per game
  • 7 rebounds
  • 52% field goal shooting
On Christmas Day against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Kuzma exploded for 31 points- the most for a rookie player who played on Christmas Day since LeBron James had 34 back in 2003. No wonder why the King himself was also impressed with #0. Kuzma went 6 for 13 from the three-point line and had 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and a blocked shot. 

Conclusion

Will these numbers equalize to Kyle Kuzma getting a spot in the All-Star Game? Definitely. Rookie of the Year? That’s not impossible. Face of the franchise? YEP! 
For now, Kyle Kuzma is performing as if he’s not a rookie. He may have his down moments but the beauty of it, he keeps on coming back way better and he has already broken many rookie-related records. Example? He became the first rookie since Jerry West to average 25 points, at least, in 3 consecutive games. 
No wonder why many teams are now scratching their heads. They missed the chance to have Kuzma on board. And they missed BIG TIME. 

Streaking No More! Lakers Snap Rockets’ 14-Game Winning Streak

Kyle Kuzma erupts for 38 while Chris Paul gets hurt

Ever since Chris Paul made his season debut with the Houston Rockets upon fully-recovering from his injury, things have been going well for the Rockets as they didn’t lose a game in all of the games that CP3 played with the team. They went down a couple of times but either CP3 or James Harden would save the Rockets from an imminent defeat to come up victorious.
However, everything has a limitation.
As painful as it may sound especially for the fans of James Harden and company, their team’s 14-game winning streak is no more as they were defeated by none other than the Los Angeles Lakers, 122-116.
While the Rockets were able to keep it close during the latter parts of the 4th quarter despite Chris Paul leaving with 10 minutes left in the game due to a sore leg, it only proved one thing: despite James Hardens 51 points, the Rockets aren’t a complete team just yet without Chris Paul in the line-up.
So what doomed the Rockets and their winning streak?

Kyle’s Kuz-mazing 38 Points

Kyle Kuzma has been outplaying his more popular rookie teammate, Lonzo Ball and his performance against Houston is no different at all. Kuzma started the game blazing hot, making the first 6 of his 3-pointers before cooling down a bit. By the end of the game, Kuzma has already surpassed his previous career high to come up with 38 points on a 12 for 17 shooting include 7 for 10 from deep. He also had 7 rebounds and 4 assists while playing for 40 minutes.

15 Turnovers for Houston

James Harden had 6 of those turnovers. The turnover problem could be associated with Chris Paul’s absence especially in the 4th quarter as Harden had to take over the ball-handling responsibilities- something that CP3 has done marvelously. However, we all have to keep in mind that the Lakers are among the top 10 teams in the league when it comes to forcing their opponents to commit those turnovers. 

Chris Paul’s Struggles and Departure Hurt the Rockets

Before he was taken out of the game for good, Chris Paul has been visibly struggling on the court. He only had 8 points on a horrible 2 for 7 field goal shooting. He also had 3 turnovers and only played for 28 minutes. Although James Harden had 9 assists to go along with his 51 points, there’s no other point guard who can create scoring opportunities better than Chris Paul himself.

Conclusion

While Houston’s latest setback doesn’t change the fact that they are still the best team in the NBA as we speak, they better pray that Chris Paul will be ready to play come the Rockets’ next game against the Los Angeles Clippers. Why? James Harden cannot do everything on his own. 

Kuzma! Why He is the Best Laker Rookie Right Now

Remember the name: Kyle Kuzma

Kyle Kuzma is the best Rookie

Yes, The Lakers didn’t exactly win against one of the worst teams in the NBA, now Phoenix, but boy, did Kuzma played like he is the best rookie in all of the land.
Let’s get this out of the way. Lonzo Ball played 37 minutes scored 6 points on 3/7 shooting with 6 assists and 6 rebounds. To say the least, it is not a pretty number for the highly touted and heavily advertised rookie but its okay, Lakers got some unexpected gem in Kyle Kuzma who is lately, nothing but Kuzmazing!
Kyle Kuzma scored a career-high 30 points in Friday’s 122-113 loss to Phoenix. And while Lonzo continues to find the right rhythm, Kyle was able to find the right spot within the game after starting on a 0-6 shooting at the half. The Rookie ended up shooting 11/23 and grabbing 10 rebounds in a losing effort against Phoenix Suns.
Kuzma has been showing a glimpse of greatness especially since Larry Nance got injured. This is the 6th time of the season that he scored 20+ points and we have a feeling that this might continue.
 Kyle Kuzma is the 27th overall pick by the Lakers.

A Wheeler’s Opinion: Will the Lakers Trade Julius Randle?

Randle’s slowly decreasing role means he’s not included in the long-term plans of LA

The question is: Where will Julius Randle play after this season?
The Los Angeles Lakers are not yet in its glorious form. Not. Yet. Yes, they got one of the most hyped and yet, almost disappointing rookies in the history of the NBA in Lonzo Ball who, a few days ago, became the youngest NBA player to record a triple-double, a record previously held by LeBron James. 
Yes, the Lakers got one of the biggest steals from this year’s draft in Kyle Kuzma who is playing way better than the number 2 pick. And yet, they are still at the 11th place in the West, thanks to their 6-8 record.
Who is leading the Lakers nowadays? Many people think it should be Lonzo Ball. Many people think it should be Brandon Ingram. But no, it’s Jordan Clarkson who is currently leading the team, at least in scoring with 15 points per game- all while coming off the bench.

So where’s Julius Randle in all of this?

In 14 games so far, Randle hasn’t started for the Lakers even though he’s relatively a  young veteran. To explain how decreased the role of Randle is, he’s been playing for 19 minutes on the average. Kyle Kuzma for one, has averaged 31 playing minutes per game and has started for 6 of the 14  games for the Lakers, so far. Larry Nance Jr., who is out due to an injury, has averaged 23 playing minutes in the 8 games that he started.
Yes, Julius Randle is leading the team in field goal percentage, making 58% of his shot attempts. Yes, he is averaging 11 points and 6 rebounds per game. And yes, we all know he’s capable of scoring more than just 11 points. But, we haven’t seen that.
Here’s the problem, folks:
Randle is set to become a restricted free agent at the end of the current season as the Lakers didn’t offer a contract extension before the season began unless Magic Johnson and company extends an offer. Nah!

What will happen to Randle?

If you were to ask this basketball pundit on wheels, it’s likely that the Lakers will trade Julius Randle for a first-round draft pick before the trade deadline. 
Why? Once Larry Nance Jr. gets back into shape, the Lakers will get a healthy frontcourt once again with Brook Lopez at the top of things. So Randle’s minutes will continue to deteriorate. There’s no point for the Lakes to keep him especially if they want to have enough cash to attract superstars.

Conclusion 

Trade him and you might get another steal from the draft. Let him walk and you gain a roster spot. 
Keep him? Your money is sleeping. If you were to ask this pundit on wheels, just trade him or let him walk. 
Who knows? Paul George might come to Hollywood. So might LeBron James. But the Lakers will need to act quickly and, smart. 

The Most Talked About NBA Rookie: Is Lonzo Ball a Bust or Not?

Lonzo’s numbers are not lying

Has Lonzo Ball turned out to be that rookie that was advertised? 

10 games into the regular season as the Los Angeles Lakers are sitting at 5-5 as they are currently playing against their arch-nemesis, the league-leading Boston Celtics, let’s take a look at the numbers of one specific rookie who has been in the center of the spotlight ever since his grand arrival in Hollywood, Lonzo Ball. 
In fact, Ball was already the most hyped rookie even before he was drafted by the Lakers as the social media was flooded with videos featuring Ball’s performances during his 1-year stint at the University of California, Los Angeles. 
When the inevitability happened as the Lakers finally drafted Ball despite worries from fans and pundits alike that  Ball’s equally famous father, LaVar Ball might interfere with the Lakers’ way of managing minutes, fans erupted in hope as they began posting on social media with Lonzo Ball teaming up with Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram and fellow rookie Kyle Kuzma, some fans were saying that this will be the young core that might break the Lakers’ dry spell in making the playoffs. 
Might
As mentioned, the Lakers are currently playing against the Celtics and they were down big back in the first half but came back in the 3rd quarter. While the game is ongoing, let’s answer one question: was Lonzo Ball all hype?

Yes. He’s a bust!

  • 8 points per game
  • 29% field goal shooting (23% from the three-point line)
  • 6 rebounds per game
  • 6 assists per game
Performance-wise, Lonzo Ball has become nothing but a hyped player who only scored in double-figures, twice in 10 games, 29 points against the Phoenix Suns, and 13 points against the Detroit Pistons. 
Then, he was held scoreless by the Portland Trail Blazers. 
One may say that he’s still adjusting to playing in the pro ranks but if the Lakers want to return to the playoffs, they will need Lonzo to perform on a certain level that made him an early candidate for the Rookie of the Year award. 
Why? Just look at Kyle Kuzma’s numbers, folks. Kuzma is averaging 15 points per game while making 56% of his shots. And Kuzma has been playing 29 minutes on the average.

It’s only 10 games and he’s a rookie

Let’s be fair. He’s only 20 years old and a rookie. 
While he’s great during his college days, adjusting to the physicality in the NBA alone, takes time and so is proving that he’s worth all the hype. 
Believe the pundit on wheels, folks, Lonzo Ball will become one of the brightest stars in the NBA and when that happens, his haters can only eat their hatred. He might not be able to score consistently but believe it or not, Lonzo Ball is one of the reasons why the Lakers are at 5-5.

Conclusion

Lonzo Ball still has a long way to go in his young NBA career and yes, he will make all of us watch once he finds his groove in the league. Give him time and the right training, it will not be long ’til he starts playing like the player he was advertised to be: Balling like nothing else matters. 
Otherwise, LeBron James might want to reconsider his plans to join Lonzo come July of next year. 

A Wheeler’s Opinion: 3 Reasons Why the Lakers will Improve this Season

A Ball, A KuzMazing Steal and more…

The dynamic duo of Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma will bring good things for the Lakers. 
Ever since the possibility of Lonzo Ball coming to the Purple and Gold was hyped up, many of the Laker fans around the world had their hopes went high especially considering how talented Lonzo is in his lone playing year in UCLA. 
And right after picking up Ball as the 2nd pick in this year’s NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers also received the rights to pick Kyle Kuzma as the 27th pick after acquiring the rights from the Brooklyn Nets which also landed them another star big man in Brook Lopez. 
While Lonzo Ball is beyond reasonable doubt, the main attraction in the Lakers nowadays, who would have thought that Kyle Kuzma is a hidden treasure in the draft, someone whom the Nets sorely missed?
Let this basketball pundit break the good things that will bring more success to the Lakers this season and beyond:

Lonzo Ball

Let’s start with the most obvious one. After averaging 14 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists with UCLA, Lonzo Ball made sure that his presence was felt as he averaged 16 points, 7 rebounds and 9 assists while playing in 8 games during the Summer League in Las Vegas- a competition which the Lakers won. Oh and one more thing, Lonzo Ball bagged the MVP award during the Summer League, too.
Although his numbers had dropped the moment the preseason games began when he only played in two games before he was shut down due to an injury, we can expect him to be healthy and ready to rumble come the opening night. 

KuzMazing Steal from the Draft

While Lonzo Ball may be the most hyped rookie entering the 2017-2018 season, probably the most hyped rookie in the history of the NBA,  many are already saying that Kyle Kuzma will become the face of the Lakers and not Lonzo Ball, or Brandon Ingram, or even Julius Randle. 
This claim is backed by Kuzma’s numbers in the preseason games of the Lakers when he averaged close to 20 points and 3 assists while making 56% of his shot attempts in 27 minutes of action. This will cost some of the veterans in the rotation of Luke Walton their playing minutes because Kuzma is actually playing better alongside Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle despite losing tons of their games during the preseason. 
If anything, Kyle Kuzma has already attracted attention from basketball fans around the world and this guy will likely give Lonzo Ball a run for his money because despite being the 27th pick in the draft, Kyle Kuzma, this early, is already being included as a candidate for the Rookie of the Year award. 
Yes, folks. Kyle Kuzma may steal the limelight away from Lonzo Ball. 

Out Mozgov. In Lopez.

Simply put it this way: Timofey Mozgov is USELESS. Brook Lopez is way BETTER. Lopez can contribute more for the Lakers than Mozgov who only wasted away the Lakers’ money and the minutes that would be better given to more deserving AND performing players. Sure, the swap also included sending an immature D’Angelo Russell but this basketball pundit firmly believes that this swap will be worth it especially in the long run.

Conclusion:

While the three things mentioned above won’t guarantee a return trip to the playoffs for the Lakers, they will certainly make things better. For starters, they will improve the chances of the Lakers in winning more games than just lagging below the standings in the packed and stacked Western Conference. And who knows? The dynamic duo of Kuzma and Ball might be the final piece to adding LeBron James into the picture, right? 

A Wheeler’s Opinion: Why Letting Go of Mozgov Benefits the Lakers

And why they should let go of Luol Deng, too…

Timofey Mozgov is a complete waste of money for the Lakers. 
When it was first announced that the Los Angeles Lakers and Timofey Mozgov agreed to a 4-year, 64 million Dollar-contract, even die-hard Laker fans, including this basketball pundit on wheels, were surprised, shocked and some, angered by this stunning development. 
Everyone was like: Have those guys inside the Lakers front office completely lost their minds? 
With all due respect to the fans of Mozgov, the primary reason why that disgusting deal wasn’t worth the money that paid for Mozgov was that Mozgov wasn’t even averaging in double figures for almost his entire career with the lone exception with one of his two stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers back during the 2014-2015 season when he averaged 10 points per game. 
He, of course, was traded off to the Denver Nuggets in the same season. His stint with the Purple and Gold during the 2016-2017 season was no different at all as he only averaged 7 points and 7 rebounds per game while playing for 54 of the 82 regular season games, starting 52 of those games- for 22 minutes of action. That, folks, was a waste of time and a roster spot for a team who has been in rebuilding mode a season after their vocal leader, Kobe Bryant, walked away from the game, for good.
Fast-forward to the off-season prior to the 2017-2018 season. The Lakers- right after picking Lonzo Ball as the 2nd pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, acquired Brook Lopez and the rights to Kyle Kuzma, the draft’s 27th pick from the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for D’Angelo Russell AND Timofey Mozgov. FINALLY!
Okay! Calm yourselves down, folks. This basketball pundit used to cheer for D’Angelo Russell during his stint with the Lakers but his immaturity both on and off the court was one of the reasons why this trade needs to happen and this pundit was very much relieved that the Lakers did the right thing. Russell has the potential to evolve into one of the best point guards in the NBA but his unnecessary actions are hampering and hurting his growth.
As for Mozgov, the Lakers letting him go for Brook Lopez AND Kyle Kuzma- definitely a steal in this year’s draft, is a good deal especially for the part of the Lakers. Why?
  1. First and foremost, Brook Lopez is already an established big man in the NBA, having produced big numbers during his 9 seasons with the Nets franchise. His numbers during the 2016-2017 season saw him average 20 points and 5 boards per night. He will be a welcome addition to the starting line-up of Coach Luke Walton once the regular season kicks off.
  2. As mentioned, Kyle Kuzma is one of the best things that have happened to the Lakers this off-season. In fact, during the ongoing preseason games, Kuzma is in 8th place in points per game, norming 19 points. While the Lakers just lost another preseason game to the Utah Jazz, 105-99, that doesn’t change the fact that the future of the Lakers has thanks to the arrival of Kuzma.
  3. Simply put it this way: Even though Timofey Mozgov once scored 23 points and grabbed 29 rebounds against the Golden State Warriors during his stint with the Denver Nuggets back in 2014, Mozgov remains as one of the most overpaid and yet, underperforming big men the league has ever witnessed. 

Conclusion:

Letting go of Timofey Mozgov along with his hefty contract frees up a roster spot in the rotation of Luke Walton. This means that guys like Ivaca Zubac, Thomas Bryant and even journeyman forward, Corey Brewer will likely see their playing minutes increase come the regular season. Now, if the Lakers got rid of Timofey Mozgov, then it only means that they can also get rid of Luol Deng, right?  

ICYMI: Lakers Draft Results and the Trade with Nets for Brook Lopez

The Lakers entered the 2017 NBA Draft with 2 picks in the first round, the #2 and #28. By virtue of a few trades, they ended the night quite differently.
They started the night by selecting Lonzo Ball, guard out of UCLA with the #2 overall pick.
Catch the introductory press conference on Friday, 6/23 at 2:30pm PT. Livestream on Lakers.com or the Lakers app or Lakers Twitter/Facebook.
As a result of the Brook Lopez trade with the Nets, the Lakers acquired the draft rights to the #27 pick, Kyle Kuzma, forward out of Utah, sending D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to Brooklyn.
The #28 pick, acquired from Houston in the Lou Williams trade, was then traded to Utah for the #30 and #42 picks. The Lakers followed that up by selecting Josh Hart, guard out of Villanova, with the 30th pick and Thomas Bryant, center out of Indiana, with the 42nd pick.
Following the draft, GM Rob Pelinka addressed the media about the day’s action.