The Los Angeles Lakers continue to impose their will on the rest of the NBA. The storied franchise is atop the Western Conference with a 33-7 record as they approach the halfway point of the 2019-20 campaign. The LeBron James-Anthony Davis duo has exceeded expectations, and championship aspirations are a reality this season.
Along with the Lakers firing on all cylinders and hoping to go the distance this season, the team has some promising young players developing while playing for the South Bay Lakers in the G League. Talen Horton-Tucker and Kostas Antetokounmpo have been making an impression while exciting Lakers fans about what the future may hold.
One former player who has an interesting perspective on the success of the current Lakers team, LeBron James-Anthony Davis duo, load management in the NBA, Alex Caruso’s success story, Dwight Howard’s resurgence, and the promise of Antetokounmpo and Horton-Tucker is three-time NBA champion A.C. Green.
Ryan Ward: As the color analyst for the South Bay Lakers, what do you think of Kostas Antetokounmpo and Talen Horton-Tucker?
AC Green: Very good potential. I think Kostas is learning to play this game at this level. Obviously, being a 19-year-old. Great potential that he does have. I think it’s a good experience for him to be here in the Lakers organization and see what it’s like to be an ultimate professional and be around a lot of good veteran guys there within the Laker team when he has a chance to go up there and practice with them as well as be around them.
They have some very solid veterans there, and I also think with this South Bay Lakers team, he has guys such as Andre Ingram and Travis Wear. Guys who have been in the G League for a while. Reggie Hearn would be another player that has also been a good locker room guy. Good guys that help him off the court.
Talen, I think is the same. He was a good find as a second-round pick. A lot of potential being an outside guy working and developing his game as well. It’s just a different place. A different location as far as what your skill set has to be. It forces you to play every single night.
Alex Caruso is a South Bay Lakers success story. What do you think of his game and the process he’s made?
Green: He’s a guy that has earned his stripes. He’s paid his dues. A lot of guys have paid their dues and earned their stripes; they just haven’t had the opportunity at the right place and the right time. Andre Ingram is a perfect example of that. Reggie Hearn is another example of that.
Alex always kept his head to the grind. He tried to keep learning. He was always there working early and staying late from practice and before games. He’s a lot better of a defender than most people would give him credit for, and I think he’s also a smart player. He’s learning the game at a high level.
As the NBA’s ultimate Iron Man, what do you think about load management in the league today with players like Kawhi Leonard? Do you agree with how players being held out games when they can play?
Green: I’m sure they’re sitting for a reason. There are a lot of injuries that are not reported. You carry a lot of stress that you’re trying to play through. I think guys are trying to be more aware of their body and what their body really needs as well as the management and the trainers.
They call it load management today. Yes, that’s correct, and if the shoe fits, you’ve got to wear it if it’s going to help your teams as well as your career.
The Lakers are legitimate title contenders this season. What do you think of the LeBron James-Anthony Davis duo?
Green: They’ve obviously played extremely well together at a high level. Very efficient for guys that haven’t actually played with one another before, but they’re pros. It’s something they’re quite used to learning how to play off one another. It doesn’t take a lot of time to develop chemistry when you have veteran guys and guys that really want to win. You will make things happen.
It’s been good to see. It’s not even All-Star break yet, so nobody is ordering champagne and confetti to come down. You have to keep things in perspective at the same time. It’s a long season.
How do you think this team would hold up against your Showtime Lakers or when you played with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal?
Green: Different era. Different time. We had a lot deeper teams in those two eras than this current Lakers team. They’re just starting to find their identity and trying to develop a culture. I don’t think it’s too good of a comparison for that particular reason.
The Lakers/Clippers rivalry is heating up more or less because they’re both title contenders right now. Who do you believe is the better team as of today?
Green: I don’t think they’re better than the Lakers right now. Overall, I don’t believe they are better. The challenge is you have to be able to replicate a good performance, and obviously, the records show the Lakers are able to be more consistent against the league overall. That’s why they’re top of the West at this time, but I do think the Clippers are a good matchup with the Lakers.
But I don’t think they’re better than them at this present time. The next time they play, I think it’ll show a different outcome.
The NBA trade deadline is right around the corner, and the rumors are swirling with Kyle Kuzma at the center of those rumors. Do you think they should make a trade or keep their team intact?
Green: Rob Pelinka and the staff, I think they’re obviously going to figure out what’s most advantageous for the team to put us in the best position to make the playoffs and hopefully go a long way in the playoffs. That doesn’t necessarily require that a trade must happen, but if it does, it is going to be a worthwhile trade.
If the Lakers could get Darren Collison or Andre Iguodala, which player do you think would be a better fit?
Green: Both of them are veteran guys and experienced guys. You can’t really go wrong with either one. I think there has been more talk and more focus on a perimeter player.
When do you think the Lakers pass the Celtics in titles?
Green: You got to take it a year at a time and stay in the season that you’re in. The potential is out there. The Lakers are showing that they’re a team to be reckoned with. They just have to keep doing what they’ve been doing and hopefully get ready to represent the West.
What are your thoughts on Dwight Howard’s career resurgence with the Lakers?
Green: I think Dwight has played well. He’s played good spot minutes. He’s had the energy, the focus, and determination. I think he’s going to continue to play right on board.
Can you tell us a little bit about the AC Green Youth Foundation?
Green: The foundation started in 1989. We work with young men and women. From ages eight throughout high school. Some into college. We focus on a lot of character development as well as financial literacy and health and nutrition.