Lakers hope to contain Atlanta rookie Young
There was no need for the Los Angeles Lakers to take a deep look at the blue-chip prospects heading into the most recent NBA Draft. After having the second overall pick three years in a row, the Lakers had the 25th selected of the first round this year.
But the Lakers have been getting an up-close view of the top rookies so far this season, and Sunday evening they'll face another top rookie when they host the Atlanta Hawks and point guard Trae Young at Staples Center.
Atlanta (3-9) had the third overall pick but traded it to the Dallas Mavericks for the fifth pick and a future protected first rounder. The Mavericks chose Slovenian swingman Luca Doncic and the Hawks went for Young out of Oklahoma.
The Lakers (6-6) have already gone up against the top three picks in the draft; Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton, Sacramento Kings forward Marvin Bagley III and Doncic.
Doncic averages 20.2 points and 6.5 rebounds, but the Lakers held him scoreless until the third quarter on Oct. 31 in Los Angeles. Doncic ended up with 14 points and five rebounds in the 114-113 victory by the Lakers.
A week earlier, the Lakers went up against Ayton in Phoenix and the 7-foot center from Arizona had 22 points and 11 rebounds, but the Lakers won 131-113, their most one-sided victory this season.
The Lakers faced Bagley on Saturday night and he scored 13 points off the bench in a 101-86 win by Los Angeles. Bagley, who played his senior year of high school in the Los Angeles area before spending one season at Duke, came into Saturday averaging 12.3 points and 6.1 rebounds.
The Lakers have won four of five and are back to .500 for the first time this season.
"We're starting to figure out who we are," Lakers forward LeBron James told Access Sportsnet. after the win against Sacramento. "Our second unit has been playing great basketball and its allowed us to get these wins."
The Lakers signed veteran center Tyson Chandler earlier in the week and he's already making a difference on defense. Los Angeles held Sacramento 31 points below its season average. Chandler has been coming off the bench behind starter JaVale McGee, who's also off to a strong start in his first season in L.A.
"We've got a great 1-2 punch at the center position," James said.
Young is averaging 18.4 points and 7.8 assists for Atlanta. He started out this month by becoming the first rookie for the Hawks to reach double figures in points and assists in three straight games and the first Atlanta player overall since Jeff Teague in 2013.
Things haven't gone all that smoothly for Young this month, however.
He's 3-for-26 from 3-point range in November and 1-for-17 from beyond the arc in the past three games to drop his overall mark to 26 percent. Young shot 36.1 from 3-point range during his freshman year at Oklahoma last season.
He also came is fourth in the league with 48 turnovers.
The Hawks have lost three in a row and seven of eight after Young scored 16 points in Friday's 124-109 loss to the Detroit Pistons.
Atlanta coach Lloyd Pierce told reporters earlier in the week that second-year forward John Collins would travel with the team when they open the four-game road trip in Los Angeles, but Collins is doubtful to make his season debut against the Lakers.
Collins has yet to play this season due to ankle soreness.
Updated November 11, 2018