Through three games of the 2019 NBA preseason, the Los Angeles Lakers have looked like a different team from the 2018-19 NBA season.
LeBron James came into Year 2 in excellent shape and has already begun to mesh well with Anthony Davis. The two form the backbone of what should be a contending Lakers team and their success will largely come down to them and how well they play throughout the regular season.
Prior to their trip to China to play two games against the Brooklyn Nets, the NBA found itself in the midst of political controversy as Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey voiced his support of Hong Kong on Twitter, much to the dismay of the league and China itself.
As a result, several Chinese entities began to sever ties with the NBA, forcing commissioner Adam Silver to come up with a way to smooth over the issue.
However, head coach Frank Vogel did his best to keep his team focused on building some off-court chemistry:
“We didn’t have some of the shootarounds but we had a lot of film sessions, staying productive,” Vogel shared prior to the team’s 121-103 win over the Golden State Warriors.
“We had a team dinner to get everybody together. One of the things you always do in one of these preseason overseas trips is to try to promote the team building aspect of it, so we did some things like that as well.”
The Lakers and Nets were placed in a difficult situation given the tension between China and the NBA, but Vogel seems to have been able to keep his players engaged with strictly basketball matters. Preseason trips like this are an excellent way to build some off-the-court camaraderie, so it is encouraging to hear they were able to get some of that stuff in despite the circumstances.
As the regular season quickly approaches, the team’s ability to gel and adjust to each other will be paramount if they hope to get off to a good start.
The final few preseason games should help in that regard and it should be fun to watch them figure things out as they go.