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Future is looking up for Lakers ... just not right away

Los Angeles' young talent still needs proper NBA seasoning

POSTED: Oct 13, 2015 10:56 PM ET

By Scott Howard-Cooper

BY Scott Howard-Cooper

NBA.com

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The bridge years continue, now with D'Angelo Russell, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson teamed for what may (or may not) be Kobe Bryant's final season. This is a good foundation to build on. It just isn't a winning team.

ICYMI

D'Angelo Russell, at No. 2, was the highest Lakers Draft pick since James Worthy went No. 1 in 1982. ... Metta World Peace is back after signing as a free agent. In the real development, the Lakers say he could have a leadership role. ... The acquisitions of Roy Hibbert and Lou Williams give the Lakers a continued veteran feel as they build for the future.

THREE POINTS

1. Coach Byron Scott said Kobe Bryant will see time at small forward. As Bryant pointed out in response, he had been playing there. Maybe this means he will play there more.

2. It cost the Lakers all of a second-round pick to get Hibbert from Indiana. At that price and with Hibbert in the final year of his contract and needing to prove to the league he is worth a big deal in the summer, it's a low-risk move for L.A. that could pay off.

3. Julius Randle went through summer league without any healthy problems and looked good early in preseason, a very encouraging sign as he comes back from the broken right leg suffered in the 2014-15 opener.

MAN ON THE SPOT

The final analysis on the decision to take Russell over Jahlil Okafor won't be known for years. But a good rookie season by Russell, while Okafor is getting a lot of touches as a focal point of the 76ers offense, will help. The Lakers could have another bad season. Russell showing a bright future would be especially welcome.

STARTING FIVE

Jordan Clarkson | 11.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.5 apg
Went from the second round to one of the best rookies of 2014-15.

Kobe Bryant | 22.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 5.6 apg
Has played 35 and six games the last two seasons.

Roy Hibbert | 10.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 1.1 apg
Gets a new start after seven years with the Pacers.

Nick Young | 13.4 ppg, 2.3 repg, 1.0 apg
Could move into reserve role as offensive spark.

Julius Randle | 2.0 ppg, 0.0. rpg, 0.0 apg
Still headed toward a very bright future.

KEY RESERVES

Brandon Bass | 10.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.3 apg
Has missed one game the last three seasons.

D'Angelo Russell | 19.5 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 5.0 apg* (*Ohio State)
A ton of potential as a versatile offensive threat.

Lou Williams | 15.5 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 2.1 apg
Averaged a career high in scoring last season.

THE BOTTOM LINE

The roster is better than a year ago and there is more hope for the future. It's a step in the right direction. But that'll have to do for now.

Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

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