Is it panic time in Cleveland?
Chargers brass hopes a new city and head coach (Anthony Lynn) breaks the franchise out of its doldrums. L.A. has the potential to finish above .500 if the Chargers stop squandering fourth-quarter leads, quarterback Philip Rivers reduces his turnovers (a career-high 26 last season) and another huge spate of injuries can be dodged.
The negative fallout among local fans and the off-field distraction stemming from the team’s impending move to Las Vegas was mitigated by the offseason signing of hometown hero Marshawn Lynch. “Beast Mode” also provides even more ammo to an offense with ample firepower.
The defense, though, remains a major concern, especially when it comes to middle linebacker and the interior pass rush.
The AFC West is matched against the NFC East and AFC East in non-division games, so don’t expect the division to lead the conference in victories once again after going a cumulative 38-26 in 2016.
Russell averaged 15.6 points (on 40.2 percent shooting) and 4.8 assists last season for the Lakers, but was deemed expendable by the Lakers once it was clear the team would draft point guard Lonzo Ball. He had a rocky two seasons in Los Angeles, but says he bears no ill feelings toward his former team.
That’s a defensive rotation most teams make in the pick-and-roll. If they don’t hedge, the big man will usually hang back to give Wall a pull-up instead of a layup. Not only can Wall make pull-ups at a decent rate at this point of his career, but engaging the big man sets the table for him to find Gortat on the roll or Markieff Morris on the pop. If teams scramble to take away that option, the most accurate shooter in the NBA this season will be the beneficiary of an open jumper.