Lonzo Ball dribbles against the Minnesota Timberwolves in preseason on Sept. 30, 2017.
(Ty Nowell/Lakers.com)

Lakers vs. Nuggets: 3 Big Questions (10/2/17)

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

After five long months, the Lakers will make their return to STAPLES Center for a preseason contest against Denver.

Here are the major questions heading into Monday’s contest.

How much aggression will we see from Zo and B.I.?
After Saturday’s preseason opener, head coach Luke Walton challenged No. 2 pick Lonzo Ball to begin looking for his own shot more aggressively.

A gifted passer, Ball had eight assists to only nine field goal attempts in his first exhibition. While Walton is certainly pleased with Ball’s playmaking ability, he also knows that opponents will look to take advantage of his unselfishness if he doesn’t keep them honest by looking for his own offense.

In particular, Walton would like to see him attack the paint, as he attempted only one shot from inside 10 feet on Saturday.

Likewise, the Lakers’ success this season will depend significantly on Brandon Ingram’s ability to create individual offense.

The 20-year-old was excellent in the first quarter of the opener, scoring nine points on three jumpers and an isolation drive to the rack.

However, he confessed to stopping the ball too much the rest of the game, missing all of his eight shots over the next three quarters. Keep an eye on how Ingram responds on Monday.

What kind of looks will the offense get as a whole?
Ingram wasn’t the only one who contributed to a lack of ball movement post-first quarter. Walton felt his team grew fatigued over the course of the game, leading to players settling for contested 3-point attempts.

The result was a ghastly 5-of-30 mark from beyond the arc.

However, the Lakers were still able to make a game of it thanks to the efforts of rookie Kyle Kuzma, who put his offensive capabilities on display through a wide range of scoring tactics.

The 27th pick competed at both the three and four positions, and finished the night with a team-high 19 points on 9-of-12 shooting.

He started off by throwing down an alley-oop and kept it going with a flame-throwing third quarter that saw him hit a step-back, floater and two hook shots across a 91-second span.

Who will stand out among the centers?
With Brook Lopez and Andrew Bogut once again sidelined, the Lakers will look to a crew of youngsters to fill the center spot.

Last game, Walton started a small-ball lineup featuring Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr. in the front court. While Nance struggled with his attempts (1-of-7) at the five, he did haul down a team-best nine rebounds.

But perhaps the most promising performance belonged to Ivica Zubac, who struggled at Summer League just two months ago.

In only 19 minutes, Zubac compiled nine points (4-of-6), five rebounds and pairs of assists and blocks. More activity like that would make a strong case for a larger role in a crowded Lakers front court.

Tip-Off: 7:30 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum Deportes in L.A. NBA TV nationally.
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW

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