Record: 16-26 (13th in Western Conference)
Pacific Division Record: 4-6; Conference Record: 9-18
Home: 8-11; Road: 8-15
FRONT COURT: C
One of the biggest issues regarding the front court is the lack of time for bigs in coach Mike D’Antoni’s system (Kaman 16.7 mpg, Hill 19.7 mpg, and Sacre 14.0 mpg). As a result, the performance of the front court has been average at best. Tied for 19th in rebounding and playing terrible defense in the paint, what used to be strengths of the Lakers are now weaknesses. The bright spot has certainly been Pau Gasol (16.4 points & 10.0 rebounds per game) and while his defense in the paint is not elite by any means, he is ranked 13th in blocked shots amongst centers. Has Gasol’s recent stellar play done enough to save him from the trade deadline next month? We’ll see. Another player who has earned himself recognition and playing time is that of rookie Ryan Kelly. The second round pick out of Duke, Kelly has averaged 14.7 points a game over his last four games (34.2 minutes per game) and looks like a player who could be with the Lakers for some time.
BACK COURT: B
You cannot talk about the Lakers backcourt without mentioning injuries and unfortunately there have been plenty of them (Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar, Xavier Henry). The biggest name on the injury list is that of Kobe Bryant. After returning from an Achilles injury after nearly eight months, Kobe was thrown right into the thick of things (29.5 minutes per game) and taking over point guard duties due to injuries. Did any of that have a direct result on Kobe and his fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in his knee? Some say yes and some will disagree with that. When will the Lakers see any type of relief on the injury front? February seems like the best bet, but at the current moment, it looks like it may be too late to save the season.
Ranked 16th in the league with 100.6 points a game, the remaining Lakers have definitely done their part despite the rash of injuries plaguing the team. One of the biggest additions to the team has been Kendall Marshall (10.1 points and 9.1 assists per game) who helped stabilize the point guard position, well somewhat since he is the only healthy point guard. The biggest concern with the offense is they seem to live and die by the three point shot. It is a great thing to watch when they are hitting over 50% from beyond the arc but when they struggle, we’ve seen some of the worst Lakers performances in recent memory.
Where do we start? Allowing 105.8 points per game (2nd worst in the league), this has been the biggest issue this season for the Lakers. Yes, injuries have played a part in it, but truth be told, this roster is not a defensive juggernaut when healthy. Pace on offense (third in the league) directly affects the defense, tired legs leading to bad transition defense for example. Interior defense has been horrible but the ironic thing is the Lakers are tied for 6th in the league in blocked shots. Worst stat on defense? Out of the 26 losses, 17 of those have seen the Lakers allow 110 or more points.
Did you really think I was going to forget Swaggy P? Nick Young has been the life of the Lakers this season and has definitely shown he loves to wear the purple and gold. Despite coming off the bench, he leads the team in scoring at 17.1 points a game and has his name in the sixth man of the year conversation. The bench has been excellent this season, averaging 42.4 points a game, which ranks 2nd in the league. That is a huge improvement after the Lakers bench was ranked 28th in scoring last season. Another thing to note, the bench players can all be brought back for cheap which will help as the Lakers move forward.
No coach would do well with the amount of injures D’Antoni’s squad has suffered. The one thing that has been constant about D’Antoni is his ability to get role players to play at a high level due to his system not being restrictive. Although, there are many concerns regarding the second year Lakers coach such as upsetting veterans like Chris Kaman with lack of playing time, not utilizing his roster to the best of their ability, and of course the defense. After clashing with Dwight Howard last season which certainly played a factor in his departure, can D’Antoni’s team play well enough to save his job heading into a crucial offseason where the Lakers could acquire some big name players? We are about to find out.