Los Angeles Lakers Have Pieces in Place to Secure Their Next Superstar

As the late, great Aaliyah once sang, "If at first you don't succeed, dust yourself off and try again."

The Los Angeles Lakers appear to have taken that repurposed adage to heart. Last summer, on the heels of watching Dwight Howard dance his way to Houston, the Lakers went hard after LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony but fell flat on both accounts. This time around, they swung and missed on LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre Jordan and Greg Monroe.

One of these days, a top-tier free agent is going to buy what the Lakers are selling and not just as a product of sheer persistence on the part of the NBA's marquee franchise. At this point, the Purple and Gold are counting on the precocious but unproven trio of D'Angelo Russell, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson to improve and eventually make their pitch to players in search of a new home.

With any luck, those three will eventually have the chops to pull it off.

The key word is "eventually." If there's anything the Lakers learned from their sojourn to NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, it's that their most promising prospects all appear to be a long way from actualizing their tantalizing potential, both individually and as a collective.

Clarkson was clearly the most comfortable of the three, as well he should've been. The Missouri product, who was named to the All-Rookie First Team last season, came in with an understanding of how to compete against grown men that most of the recent collegians in summer league simply don't have.

Ultimately, though, Clarkson, who's already 23 and was taken 46th overall in 2014, isn't the one to whom the Lakers' hopes—of returning to title contention and luring in game-changing free agents—will be pinned. Rather, that distinction belongs to the untested lottery-selected tandem of Randle and Russell.

Randle looked rusty during his four summer-league appearances and understandably so. He had...

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