The NBA just released the NBA schedule for all 30 NBA teams, and with it, the Los Angeles Lakers’ own campaign was revealed, and it’s sure to hold the most unsurmountable amount of intrigue to date. With a young core that features a prominent D’Angelo Russell, re-fueled Julius Randle, and up-and-coming Jordan Clarkson, the Lakers look set to begin turning their fortunes around following a franchise-worst record.
The Lakers will begin their 2015-16 campaign at home in an October 28 clash that will feature the top two picks in 2015’s NBA Draft, Karl Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell. The two top rookies will face off for the very first time as NBA players on opening night.
Having had a relatively tough schedule throughout the beginning of the 2014-15 season, this year the team begins the season on a much lighter note, facing only 4 teams that made the playoffs last season throughout the first 13 games.
Looking to build a winning environment, this certainly could help the team establish some much needed charisma and fortitude for the long, unpredictable season that lurks ahead. Not only could this benefit Russell, as he attempts to orchestrate a smooth transition into the NBA from college ball, it could also pay dividends for Clarkson and Randle as they look to continue proving their worth to the team, though arguably more so for Randle, who has yet to make his mark in the league due to a season-ending injury in 2014-15.
Other more noteworthy dates for the Lakers include a Christmas day match against the Clippers – in a battle for LA which has always been a particularly hot matchup between the two – despite players from both teams disregarding the notion. This clash is sure to be as enthralling as ever.
For historical reasons, should Bryant decide to hang it up following the season, the next matchup that promises to intrigue is a December 30th match-up against the Boston Celtics at the Garden. The Lakers/Celtics rivalry will continue to live, but for one particular Bryant, it may mark the end of an era between the guard and the city he’s come to face over the years. It’s sure to be interesting how that night plays out.
January 5th marks the date that the reigning champs pay a visit to STAPLES Center for the very first time. Aside from the obvious interest that comes with the reigning champs coming to town, I find the matchup an interesting one for Russell in particular. It’ll be interesting to observe how the rookie adapts from the likely coverages he’d already faced in his first crack against the Warriors on November 24th. And there’s always Steph Curry, arguably the league’s best point guard and reigning MVP.
Finally, the Lakers get set to face off against the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers in a two-game series that sees the Lakers visit Cleveland on February 10th, and then hosting the Cavs at STAPLES Center on March 10th, exactly one month from the first meeting.
LeBron against Kobe has always been a match-up that’s been held in high regard among the NBA, because of the work ethic and Michael Jordan comparisons both players have drawn from critics. In what could be a finale to the Kobe era, this gives the fans a chance to really embrace the competitiveness that both players have exhibited throughout the years, as one looks to transition into the latter years of his prime without the hard landing, while the other looks to potentially hang them up on his own terms.
Furthermore, the conclusion of the Lakers season sees Los Angeles face off against the Utah Jazz on April 13th. Perhaps in another time, this would resemble the team gearing up and getting set to fully embrace a playoff-mindset in preparation for the playoffs. Barring a triumphant performance by this Lakers core, the likely only storyline for this game will be Kobe’s potentially last suit up in what will have been a storied career. Emotions are sure to run high for the organization and Kobe himself, as he sets his sights towards the ensuing off-season and decides if his love for the game remains as strong as a certain young Bryant who suited up for the very first time 20 years ago.
Do you favor the schedule the Lakers were handed this season? If so, do you feel as though the team could benefit with an early confidence surge as they look to capitalize on missing the playoffs for the last two seasons? Share your thoughts below in the comments section.