L.A. Lakers at Atlanta
Time: 6:30 PM CT (NBA LP)
Spread: LAL -5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Atlanta Hawks have lost three straight and have fallen to 18-38 on the season. It still trails the Orlando Magic to get out of the Southeast Division cellar, but the future is bright in “Hotlanta.”
Trae Young has blossomed well in his rookie season, and John Collins is quietly having an outstanding second year in the league. That duo, along with Taurean Prince, represents the key pieces of the Hawks’ young core, which truthfully is one of the better in the league once the rest of the roster fills out. The Hawks will hope to land Zion Williamson in the 2019 NBA draft, which would really put the icing on its frontcourt in combining Williamson with Collins, who is a phenomenal athlete in his own right. The Hawks could become a very exciting team based on the transitional talents of Young and Collins, but the roster is definitely still in progress.
After Collins, Young, and Prince, the Hawks lineup is a lot dicier and filled with a number of players deficient in scoring skills. Dewayne Dedmon and Alex Len form something of a two-headed monster at center, but neither has outstanding upside at this point in their respective careers.
Rookie 2-guard Kevin Huerter has looked strong at times, but his playing time is still somewhat usurped by the ancient Vince Carter, who sees 15 minutes a night in this, his farewell tour through the NBA. The Hawks have put an exciting product on the court finally and are getting some wins, but it still will be a lottery team. That more or less sums up the situation in Atlanta: exciting but struggling. For now.
The Lakers are just 12-16 on the road this season. It lost the first game of this Eastern Conference road trip, falling 94-136 to the Indiana Pacers. The loss was embarrassing, and the Lakers shot 46 percent in the loss but allowed the Pacers to shoot 57 percent. Los Angeles committed 19 turnovers to Indiana’s 10, and it was also outrebounded by a six board margin. Even LeBron James struggled in the loss, attempting just 12 field goals and finishing -17 for his 30 minutes of court time. Since that loss, the Lakers have dropped two of its past three and three of four total on this Eastern Conference road trip.
The Lakers had flirted with jettisoning most of its young talent in hopes of acquiring Anthony Davis, but the Pelicans simply were not taking the deal, no matter how much butter and icing Magic Johnson put on it. Instead, the team will likely make its run at Davis in free agency, which is probably for the best as it is. The Lakers have built up some young talent that needs to be given time to mature, rather than dealing the whole wad of it for one proven superstar.
Kyle Kuzma has looked to have some “superstar” in him at times, and Brandon Ingram is an enigma worth seeing out, as well. The Lakers have seemed to demote Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to the bench, and that is something of a surprise since he was initially acquired to be the defensive 2-guard L.A. needed in its backcourt rotation.
Second-year point guard Josh Hart, too, likely has a promising future of his own. The Lakers simply have too much going on to let it all go in hopes of acquiring Davis, and it should consider itself lucky that Dell Demps asked too much for Davis, because L.A., really, was already offering too much with Lonzo Ball, Ingram, Kuzma, and several other parts (including draft picks).