Lakers News: The Ringer Experts Skeptical New-Look LA Will Make Play-In

Time will tell.

Your Los Angeles Lakers look decidedly different than they did at the start of the 2023 calendar year.

On a new edition of their podcast series “Group Chat”, The Ringer’s Justin Verrier, Rob Mahoney, and Wosny Lambre all seemed a bit less optimistic about the new-look Lakers than their colleagues Chris Vernon and Kevin O’Connor. The trio assessed the team’s first two in-season trades of the year, as the Patrick Beverley-for-Mo Bamba swap happened after this was recorded.

“I love [the deal] for all parties who aren’t the Lakers. I just have to believe that they could’ve done something better at the point than D’Angelo Russell,” Lambre noted. “I feel like he’s been overrated his entire career. He played two-and-a-half months o good ball in Brooklyn, made it as the very last person on an All-Star team, and people kept calling him ‘All-Star player D’Angelo Russell.'”

“Last year in the playoffs, you kind of saw what this dude is,” Lambre continued. “He can make a couple shots here and there, maybe get hot, but aside from that he is not a great pick-and-roll player, he’s terrible at getting to the cup, he is about as slow as molasses coming around screens, trying to break dudes down one-on-one, and he’s one of the worst defensive players at his position in the entire league. However, the other two guys that are coming in, Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley, who I like… those guys actually make sense as LeBron and AD players.”

Russell is currently expected to miss Sunday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks with a rolled ankle, but when he has played for LA alongside James he has looked very solid.

“It needs to be said: D’Angelo Russell, very inconsistent player, has been playing his best basketball this season by far over the last month,” Mahoney added. “Is D’Angelo Russell going to be that player all the time for the Lakers? Of course not…  [But with the advent of Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt], definitely a team that needed depth is getting some in this deal.”

The three all also voiced their skepticism that LA could make a legitimated playoff push.

“I think the Lakers are clearly a deeper team… I’m just not sure they’re a meaningfully better [team], in any way, and I was expecting at least some more dramatic swing than D’Angelo Russell for them at this [past] trade deadline… I don’t see a lot of evidence here that says this is a Lakers team that’s going to storm the play-in and be really formidable.”

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