On Monday, August 14th the NBA released the schedule of all 32 teams in the league. While much of the analysis of the schedule is just speculation at this point in the preseason, there are a few important statistics that cannot be overlooked.
Commissioner Adam Silver and the NBA decided to make player rest an important issue during the off-season and the schedule reflects that. Back to back games are down league-wide and no teams play four games in five days, unlike last season.
The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the teams whose schedule looks better than at the start of last season. The team plays only 13 back to back games this season, compared to 16 last year and 18 in 2015.
Travel is down across the league, as the NBA saw the long flights and time-zone changes as a potential problem in the quality of basketball each night. The Lakers only have three time-zone changes and four trips that total 750 miles during their back to backs.
Having a favorable schedule, at least in terms of rest and travel, should help prevent a very young Lakers team from “hitting a wall” at the end of the season. With at least three rookies contributing to major roles and other positions being filled by former D-Leaguers, it will be important for the training staff to manage the players’ fatigue.
Second-year forward, Brandon Ingram, played well during his rookie season but looked tired near the end of the year and saw his numbers plateau. Ingram was the youngest player in the NBA last season and should have large improvements in year two after working on his jump-shot and gaining weight this off-season.
Team president Magic Johnson said he expects Ingram to lead the Lakers in scoring this season. The 19-year old averaged 9.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.1 assists last season while being named to the All-Rookie second team.
The toughest stretch for the Lakers comes in December right before their Christmas day game. On the 18th the Lakers host the defending champions, the Golden State Warriors, they then fly to Houston to play the Rockets on the 20th.
The team then hops back on a plane to fly to Oakland to take on the Warriors on the 22nd. To finish the four game stretch, the Lakers play a back to back against the Portland Trailblazers at home on the 23rd.
These four games, two against the defending champions, in six days will be the toughest grouping of games, as things stand now.
To open the season, the Lakers will host the Clippers on October 19th. Lonzo Ball will take the floor for the first time in his NBA career against the cross-town rivals.
That same month, the team will travel up to Sacramento to watch the Lakers and Ball battle the Kings and the fifth overall pick, De’Aaron Fox, on the 22nd. Both players have had success against one another in college and their fathers have continued the feud during the pre-draft process.
Christmas day plays host to five games, and of course, the Lakers will be playing one of them. The team matches up against Jimmy Butler the Tom Thibodeau led Minnesota Timberwolves in the last game of the night at 7:30 PM PT.
Lastly, the All-Star festivities will be very important for the Lakers. This year’s All-Star game, three-point contest and dunk competition will all be held in Los Angeles.
The team will want to have at least one representative in their “home” All-Star game and recently acquired center Brook Lopez might be the team’s best bet. The former Net averaged 20.5 points per game and shot 35 percent from beyond the arc last season in Brooklyn.