2017-18 Schedule Breakdown
Lonzo Ball opened the Las Vegas Summer League by tossing an alley-oop to Brandon Ingram. He finished it by accepting MVP honors, and his fellow 2017 draftee Kyle Kuzma snagged the MVP of the championship game trophy by leading the Lakers to their first summer title.
That made you at least a little bit more excited for the 2017-18 campaign, didn't it? A little more excited to see what the schedule looks like, perhaps?
Below, we dive into the details, highlights and quirks of the 82 games schedule:
SCHEDULE NEED TO KNOW'S
What do you need to know about the 2017-18 Lakers schedule? How about:
- The longest road trip features five games in 10 days from Jan. 26 to Feb. 4 (@CHI, TOR, ORL, BKN, OKC). Last season, the longest trip had seven games in 12 days.
- The longest home stand goes for nine days and includes five games from Jan. 3 to 11 (vs. OKC, CHA, ATL, SAC and SAS).
- The Lakers play 13 B2B's on the season, down from 16 in 2016-17. One has no travel (vs. HOU/@LAC to close the season). Three of them include time zone changes, and four have travel of over 750 miles.
- Last season, L.A. played the vast majority of its home games on Tues. (13), Fri. (10) and Sun. (15), with just one apiece for Mon., Wed. and Thurs. and not a single game on Sat. This season, things are balanced at Staples Center: Mon. (4); Tues. (7); Wed. (8); Thurs. (3); Fri. (10); Sat. (1); Sun. (8).
- The Lakers play eight of their road games on Sat., up from five last season. The rest: Mon. (7); Tues. (3); Wed. (8); Thurs. (6); Fri. (5); Sun. (3).
- L.A. only goes to Portland and San Antonio once, and welcomes New Orleans and Utah one time apiece. Each NBA team plays 10 teams in its conference four times apiece, four squads within its conference three times apiece and teams in the opposing conference twice.
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE … THE ROAD
The most noticeable difference for the 2017-18 schedule came as an NBA directive: Get the players more rest. On that, they delivered. The Lakers will play only 13 back-to-backs (league average: 14.9), down from 16 last year and 18 in 2015-16.
Furthermore, there isn't a single set of four games in five nights (one last year). Now, to make this happen, the NBA will start the campaign a week earlier. L.A. opens on Oct. 19 (Oct. 26 last year) and finishes on April 11 (April 12 in 2016-17).
The net impact on the players is a positive for recovery time … but it does bring them away from their families a bit more. Last season, there were 68 nights when the Lakers were either in another city or didn't get back to L.A. until after midnight. This year, that number bumps up to 72.
Indeed, having more B2B's on the schedule in previous years was a way for coastal teams especially to spend less time on the road. For example: one 3-game trip has L.A. going @DAL (Jan. 13), @MEM (Jan. 15) and @OKC (Jan. 17), which is six nights on the road. Last year, there would have been a B2B that would have meant one fewer night on the road.
GOOD CHANCE AT A GOOD START
The schedule-makers have tossed up an assist to the Lakers with the way things start. In fact, through Nov. 27, six of the top seven favorites in Las Vegas to win the NBA title don't appear: Warriors, Cavs, Rockets, Spurs, Wolves and Thunder. The first game against that group is on Nov. 29, when the Lakers host the defending champions.
Five of the seven October games are at Staples Center, while the two trips, both home/road B2B's, are close (PHX and UTA), while November features an even home/road split. Of course, the schedule always evens out eventually, and the Lakers start to pay for the softer start once December comes.
April is particularly brutal. It's basically all Western playoff contenders to close the season. On the flip side, it's sometimes best to draw the top teams late, as the combination of being locked into a playoff position or potentially resting players can be a factor.
BEST TRIP FOR YOU
After extensive debate amongst our Lakers New Media crew, we've decided on the best road trip for fans looking to follow the squad around the country: Nov. 8 @BOS/Nov. 9 @WAS/Nov. 11 @MIL/Nov. 13 @PHX.
We've broken it down into two options, one set for efficiency and the other for the hardcore. Allow us to be your travel planners:
- On Nov. 6, you'll arrive in Boston in time to have a nice meal (I'd target the excellent Italian restaurants close to the arena, but you may opt for some clam chowder). See some historical sights and check out Harvard or MIT, then hit the TD Garden for Lakers-Celtics on Nov. 7. That’s always an awesome rivalry game with an electric atmosphere, and this year has the potential to make Boston fans furious that they didn’t keep their No. 1 pick position to draft Lonzo.
On. Nov. 8, take the train down to Washington, D.C. and check out some monuments, or have a meal in Georgetown, before Lakers-Wizards that evening. If you haven't been to a game there, you'll be shocked at just how much D.C. and surrounding area folks love the Lakers.
- Do everything in Option 1 … but then keep it moving. Fly to Chicago on the 9th and enjoy a night in the Windy City. Shop on Michigan Ave., check out Navy Pier, enjoy some Giordano’s pizza and head to the top of the Hancock building for a drink. On the 10th, have more Chicago fun during the day, then skip up to Milwaukee (93 miles) to eat some bratwurst, drink some beer and otherwise avoid going outside too much in the cold. Then hit Lakers-Bucks on the 11th and enjoy the Greek Freak. With your remaining energy, hit the airport for a flight to Phoenix to recuperate from the cold with some desert heat before catching the Lakers and Suns on the 13th. Then it’s time to go home, wherever that may be for you. See you there???
MYCHAL'S HOTEL RULES
Lakers radio analyst and former Showtime Lakers champ Mychal Thompson spends approximately 40 days per season in my hotel room doing our 710 ESPN Radio Show: "Thompson and Trudell". As such, I've been well schooled on his hotel room rules. Mychal is currently on vacation in the Bahamas, but did text me to confirm that I "nailed" his preferences, most of which center upon germs and disinfection:
- Always request a room next to the elevator to eliminate unnecessary extra walking. Mychal will always go straight to the front desk and ask where his room is. If his radio partner, my broadcast uncle and co-host of "Mason and Ireland," John Ireland, has a room closer to the elevator, the two will swap rooms.
- Never sit on a hotel couch or chair without first putting down a towel or bed sheet, which must be inspected for stains.
- Always apply hand sanitizer to the remote control, which Mychal considers the dirtiest thing in the room. Do the same to the telephone.
- Go downstairs for breakfast to ensure extra hot coffee, extra hot maple syrup for pancakes and to eliminate any waiting for room service.
- With breakfast as the exception, do not leave the room. That's too much effort for somebody that's been traveling in the NBA since 1978.
- Bring your own cups to drink out of.
MT is one of a kind!
OUT WITH THE OLD (ARENA), IN WITH THE NEW
Speaking of Milwaukee … Nov. 11 will be the final time the Lakers set foot in BMO Harris Bradley Center. Built in 1988 (Ball and Brandon Ingram were nine years away from birth), it's one of the older facilities in the league, and opposing players won't be too sad to see it go. Next season, the Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center (sure to sell naming rights) will debut.
That opening will leave the Pistons only one season to boast the NBA's newest arena, since Detroit's Little Caesar's Arena replaces the Palace at Auburn Hills for 2017-18. L.A. will be welcomed to Michigan on March 26.
EARLY COLLEGE AND HOMETOWN REUNIONS
Los Angeles features a ton of transplants to a city that serves as a magnet to people (like this Minnesota native) from all over the country and the world. While we choose to live in L.A., most of us like to visit our hometowns ... or our college towns. For the players, you can never beat the first time.
- In theory, Chino Hills native and UCLA one-and-done baller Lonzo Ball was home the second he got drafted No. 2 overall … but he gets to play even closer to home than Staples Center on Oct. 2. The Lakers face Denver in the second preseason game in Ontario, which is 10 or so miles away from Chino Hills. Of course, Bruins fans can drive over from Westwood to check out the guy who posted 14.6 points, 7.6 assists (NCAA high), 6.0 boards, 1.8 steals and 0.8 blocks in his lone All-American season.
- Kyle Kuzma will have both Oct. 28 and March 26 circled on his calendar. The Lakers play the Jazz in October, and the 27th pick will have a ton of Utes in the building. He played three years at Utah, posting 16.4 points, 9.3 boards and 2.4 assists on 50.4 percent shooting as a junior. Then in March, he'll surely have some representation from his native Flint, Mich. at the game in Detroit. He'll also be asking his teammates if they're using their allotted tickets for the evening.
- Like Ball, Silver Spring, Md. native Josh Hart also doesn't have to wait long to hit his hometown, as the Lakers head to Washington on Nov. 7. Hart may get an even warmer reception when L.A. faces Philly on Dec. 7, since he helped lead Villanova to a National Championship in 2016. Hart was a consensus First Team All-American as a senior, posting 18.7 points, 6.4 boards, 2.9 assists and 1.5 steals per game.
- Thomas Bryant will enjoy a March 19 date against Indiana, when the Hoosier faithful can come out to cheer the big man who posted 12.6 points and 6.6 boards with 1.5 blocks per game as a sophomore. A native of upstate New York (Rochester), Bryant's family is actually closer to Toronto than New York City or Brooklyn, and thus will have to ensure that his squad has their passports operating to drive over the border to Canada on Jan. 28.
BILLY MAC'S OFF-DAY HIGHLIGHTS
We asked the Voice of the Lakers on TV, Bill Macdonald, to pick out the best of the rare off days on the road, and to give us his plans for the day. Here's what everybody's favorite travel buddy had to say:
- Dec. 11 @NYK: It's holiday season in the heart of the NYC. Walk the High Line during the day. With a million great restaurants to choose from, be careful if (Español analyst for Spectrum Deportes) Francisco Pinto joins in, since he makes like Joey Chestnut and eats everyone else's food on the table while they are not watching. After dinner, it's off to hear trumpet player Chris Botti at The Blue Note Jazz Club.
- Dec. 21 @GSW: Rarely do we get a night off in the Bay Area. This one is four days before Christmas, and a chance to hang out with my brother and his family in Menlo Park.
- Jan. 25 @CHI: One visit a year and we always make the most of a city with a ton of energy and one of our favorite hotels. Yes, pizza will be eaten.
- Jan. 29 and 30 @ORL: Golf in the day is a must. Teeing it up on some of the great courses in the country, just think twice before inviting (Voice of the Lakers in Español) Adrian Garcia Marquez to play. He's great fun on the course but likely to break the rental clubs due to his Giancarlo Stanton type swing. Night time it's all about Universal, Islands of Adventure and Disney World ... maybe even with @brookietheWookie11. Long shot hope: Get (legendary TV analyst) Stu Lantz to wave a wand at Hogwarts in Harry Potter Land.
- Feb. 27 and 28 @MIA: Pool/beach in the day. South Beach at Night. 'Nuff said.
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- Either New Orleans or San Antonio to see John Ireland lick the bottom of his shoe on Bourbon Street or swim across the Riverwalk on dares.
- Washington D.C. so I can eat Trudell's parents'* homemade hall of fame (whatever it was) dip and not allow anyone else to touch it.
*Editor's Note: Billy destroyed one of my mom's delicious dips when the broadcast crew came to my parent's house in Minnesota; they moved to Maryland this year.
IS THIS DELTA PLANE A HYBRID?
How does 53,090 miles on a plane sound? That's what we're dealing with this season, which is eerily close to the 52,316 the Lakers spent amongst the clouds last season. The new normal is significantly up from a 2015-16 season that featured just 44,992 miles. What this does allow for: plenty of time to catch up on watching downloaded Netflix shows on the iPad; writing articles; reading books and magazines (Sports Illustrated and The New Yorker are my two subscriptions); Twitter and Reddit Q&A's; Instagram posting and scrolling; and of course, most importantly, eating.
As for the players? Sure, there are a few friendly card games, and definitely some TV/movie viewing on iPads and computers. Back in the day, my favorite player plane activity was four-player games of FIFA on the Xbox between Lamar Odom, Adam Morrison, Luke Walton and Jordan Farmar. With the current group, Larry Nance, Jr. has been known to bring his gaming console on trips.
- Oct. 19 vs. LAC: Lonzo's first home game that counts, and LAC's first without Chris Paul in years.
- Nov. 8 @ BOS: Always a gem of a game, L.A. have won two of the last four, and have a fun matchup of youth to boot between Ball, Ingram, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. The No. 2's vs. the No. 3's.
- Nov. 29 vs. GSW: The Lakers have found a way to beat the sometimes-unbeatable Warriors at least once at home in three straight seasons.
- Dec. 25 vs. MIN: Christmas Day brings Karl Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and newly-acquired Jimmy Butler and Jeff Teague to L.A. The Wolves and Lakers have good arguments for the best 1-2 punch in young talent in the West moving forward.
- April 10 vs. HOU: How will the James Harden-Chris Paul tandem be faring late in the season? Finding ways to win tough games like this at home against teams favored to beat the Lakers will be essential if L.A. is to make any type of (unexpected) run at a playoff spot.