The past eight days have provided a glimpse at what the Lakers’ young core could develop into if all goes right.
Out of five games, four saw a Laker record his career-high in scoring, as Jordan Clarkson, Ivica Zubac, Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell all showcased their offensive skill sets.
Clarkson got it started on March 12, when he tied his career-high with 30 points off the bench in the Lakers’ last-minute loss to Philadelphia.
Clarkson — who was added to the starting lineup after this display — was aggressive, shooting 10-of-11 on free throws, and benevolent, handing out eight assists.
HIGHLIGHTS: Jordan Clarkson matched his career high with 30 points to go along with eight assists and six boards in tonight’s game. pic.twitter.com/cg70YCPOkO
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) March 13, 2017
The very next day, Zubac got in on the action by bullying his way through the paint toward 25 points on a 12-of-15 clip from the field against Denver.
The 19-year-old also hauled in 11 rebounds to become the youngest Laker to ever record a 25-point double-double.
HIGHLIGHTS: Ivica Zubac drops a career-high 25 points to go along with 11 rebounds in his fourth double-double of the season. pic.twitter.com/tvXXMxKjAA
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) March 14, 2017
Then, last Wednesday, Randle shattered his previous career-high of 25 points by using his combination of size and speed to overwhelm Houston’s bigs.
Randle finished the contest with 32 points on 13-of-17 shooting, while also collecting eight boards along the way.
Julius Randle scores a career-high 32 points to go along with 8 rebounds, but the Lakers lose in Houston. #LakeShow pic.twitter.com/yEZWVz4GPJ
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) March 16, 2017
Finally, Russell capped off the week with the hottest night of them all on Sunday.
At 21 years old, Russell became the youngest player in franchise history to drop 40 points in a game — and he did so against the defending-champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
The 2015 second-overall pick scored on all three levels, hitting 14-of-22 while splashing seven 3-pointers. Though he started at shooting guard for the first time in his career, Russell also handed out six assists with only one turnover.
The challenge now is to continue these huge performances in the context of wins.
Despite these individual successes, the Lakers lost all five of their games in this stretch. However, head coach Luke Walton is encouraged by what he has seen recently.
“For now, I think it’s great for them to continue to have this individual success and reinforce the idea that the work that they’re putting in every single day is paying off because they’re having that type of success in the games,” Walton said at Monday’s practice.
“Eventually that has to turn into winning if it’s going to mean anything, but now it’s definitely good to see that.”
The head coach also believes that this flurry of career nights is more than a coincidence.
Instead, he thinks that this has all stemmed from the Lakers playing unselfishly and trusting their teammates’ capabilities.
“I think they’re doing a better job of just playing the right way,” Walton said. “When you play the right way, normally somebody is going to get hot because the ball is moving. And then as that’s happening, somebody finds their rhythm.”