The Los Angeles Lakers have acquired plenty of young talent over the past couple of years and now have one of the best young foundations in the NBA. While the talent has fans excited, it is anyone’s guess how long it will take for them to come together and former Laker Shaquille O’Neal thinks it’s gonna take some time.
Arguably the NBA’s most dominant big man of all-time, O’Neal was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame. O’Neal told Bill Oram of the OC Register that while he believes the Lakers will be exciting, he doesn’t see them being a contender for a while:
“They’re definitely going to be exciting,” O’Neal said Thursday, “but I don’t see them being a contender for a while. I mean, they’ve still got to go up against Golden State in the West, they’ve got to go up against OKC, still got to go up against Cleveland, the Rockets. So they have a long way to go to be a contender.
“Every now and then they’ll make some noise and get the people in the Staples Center excited.”
Shaq’s mindset on the Lakers is one that is shared by many people across the NBA. Everyone is impressed with the talent the Lakers have brought together, but with most of them being 23 years old and younger, it would be crazy to think they’re just going to make a playoff run immediately.
The young Lakers need time to grow together and there will definitely be some growing pains along the way. Hopefully the veterans the Lakers have brought in such as Luol Deng, Timofey Mozgov, and Jose Calderon can help the process, but there is only so much they can do.
As Shaq pointed out, the Lakers being in the Western Conference won’t make things easier, but as long as the young Lakers show progress and continue to develop, the franchise and fans will be satisfied.