Last night, in a somewhat meaningless game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Sacramento Kings, fans learned a lot about the talent that the youth on both teams will be bringing to the league for years to come.
In a season full of teams loaded with talent, it’ often easy to overlook the rebuilding teams. The Lakers and Kings fit this description perfectly, and have young talent for what should be years to come.
In a thrilling 113-108 Lakers victory on Saturday evening, both teams had players show their best talent, racking in all sorts of statistical goodies. Here are the six players (three per team) that performed best for each team:
Julius Randle: 12 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, two steals, one block (50 percent shooting) – Randle has shown flashes of greatness often this season, but ever since Nance Jr.’s departure, he has been more consistent. It is a big question mark if he is one of the young guys that the Lakers hold on to when they try to get a big name before next season, but any team would be lucky to have what Randle offers.
Brandon Ingram: 13 points, seven rebounds, eight assists, one block – In comparison with Julius, Ingram is one of those untouchables for the Lakers; he will be wearing purple and gold for what seems like could be a while. He’s had some rough patches as well, but his sophomore season has been going well so far, flirting with a triple double in this one.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: 34 points, seven boards, eight three-pointers (60 percent shooting) – Pope is 25 and is the oldest of this group, and the chances of him staying on the Lakers next season is quite low due to his one year deal expiring. He’s as streaky as they come but, as shown by the above stats, when he’s on, it’s a sight to see.
Willie Cauley-Stein: 18 points, 15 rebounds, two assists, two steals, two blocks – After some rough patches earlier on in the season and plenty of inconsistency, Cauley-Stein has finally found his groove on a depleted Kings team where opportunity is not scarce. He brings a little bit of everything to the box score every night and is very valuable to Sacramento. I definitely see him doing big things as soon as this season.
Bogdan Bogandovic: 21 points, six rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block (50 percent shooting) – Many have called Bogdanovic the King’s best player, and it’s easy to see why. He’s not just a scorer, and he has a sort of coolness about him that makes him look like he has been playing for a few years. He could also be special really soon.
Buddy Hield: 21 points, eight rebounds, five three-pointers – Hield is known as a three-point threat, but has developed his game quite nicely on this Sacramento team. The inconsistency is there, as it is with most young players, but he’ll continue to get plenty of touches post-All-Star Break and should be fun to watch.
So why does this matter? Well, all of these guys are young players who have already begun making names for themselves. Granted, this is only a one game sample space, but it is undeniable that these guys can play. And the biggest takeaway from it all is their average age: 23.5 years old.
In this simple breakdown of a game between two young and rebuilding teams, it is crucial to take as much good as you can away from it. The six aforementioned guys all scored efficiently, padded their stats, or a little of both. The talent in the NBA right now, especially considering how elite this year’s rookie class is, is at one of the highest ever. Many NBA fans, myself included, are excited to see what’s in store for these guys and countless others that quickly emerge as young studs in the NBA.