Early-Season Report Cards for L.A. Lakers’ Key Prospects

With about a third of the 2015-16 season in the books, a picture is beginning to form for the Los Angeles Lakers’ wave of the future.

The games themselves are often not pretty—an amalgamation of fits and starts embellished by Kobe Bryant’s farewell tour. With a lowly record of 4-23, this isn’t a team that’s headed toward the playoffs. But the season can still be useful from a formative sense as embryonic talents learn to compete effectively in the highly competitive NBA.

Accordingly, report cards will only be handed out to the prospects who are regularly playing key Laker roles. That omits second-round rookie Anthony Brown and sophomore Tarik Black, who have been shuttled between the Lakers bench and the team’s D-League affiliate—the Los Angeles D-Fenders.

For Brown, an athletic three-and-D wing buried in the rotation, the D-League is an obvious place to get some seasoning. He does get called to the main stage on occasion—an example being Saturday’s 40-point blowout loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, with the rook starting in place of a shoulder-sore Bryant.

It was a baptism by Kevin Durant, and the results weren't pretty, as Mike Trudell of Lakers.com noted:

Black’s case is more puzzling. He’s a high-energy defender who also rolls well to the basket at the offensive end. But L.A. head coach Byron Scott hasn’t called Black’s number since late November, giving those minutes to utility center Robert Sacre instead.

The emphasis in L.A. is clearly on youth and the future. The Lakers could get even younger in June if they hold onto their top-three protected pick. There will also be important decisions to make about roster members who will be free agents as well as available talent on the open market.

The hope is, by then, these current young prospects will have shown enough to help entice more ...

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