The Lakers start the 2013-2014 campaign going .500 with wins against the Clippers and Hawks and losses to the Warriors and Spurs. With Kobe Bryant still sitting out with his torn Achilles, Coach D’Antoni has been playing a deep rotation with 11 players getting consistent playing time. Here is the season’s first edition of Top to Bottom:
1. Xavier Henry
The X-Factor. An early candidate for MIP, Xavier Henry has taken the opportunity the Lakers have given him and ran with it. Averaging a little over 14 points a game, Henry has lead the Lakers in scoring in 3 out of their first 4 games. Henry has proven his ability to get to the basket and to the charity stripe and impressed the coaching staff enough to steal Nick Young’s spot as the starting small forward.
2. Pau Gasol
With Kobe still out, Pau has been the go-to guy for the Lakers and has started looking like his former self again. Pau leads the team in scoring and rebounds averaging a double-double at 16.75 points and 11 rebounds a game highlighted by Sunday night’s performance against the Hawks where he went for 16 points, 13 rebounds and knocked down the game winning free throws with 6 seconds left. With no timetable for Kobe’s return, Pau will have to keep up his productivity if the Lakers want to win.
3. Jordan Hill
Despite his lack of playing time, Jordan Hill has made an impact every time he has stepped out onto the floor. Averaging only 14 minutes a game, Hill has managed to average 6 rebounds (3.25 offensive) a game to go along with 6.25 points. Hill has been buried deep in D’Antoni’s 11 man rotation, but without his game saving offensive rebound against the Hawks, the Lakers would be looking at a measly 1-3 record instead of the 2-2 record they have now. It seems to me that his hustle and energy deserves more minutes than he’s getting.
Honorable Mention: Jordan Farmar
I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen by Jordan Farmar so far this season. The Laker bench unit has been more productive than the starters and Farmar is at the point of that squad. It’s apparent that he has grown as a player and leader since the last time he wore the Laker uniform. Farmar has averaged 10 points and 4.5 assists a game while playing 22 minutes a game.
1. Shawne Williams
Shawne Williams has been kind of a non-factor in the starting line up. Williams has been averaging only 3.25 points and 3.75 rebounds in 15.5 minutes a game in his first season with the Lakers. I haven’t seen anything that really impresses me about Williams on the floor and think his minutes could easily go to Hill and Kaman who have been more productive. I’m not exactly sure why he’s in the starting line up, but hopefully he’ll turn things around and prove me wrong.
2. Steve Blake
Steve Blake has had a rough start this season. Starting at the shooting guard position, Blake has only averaged 6.25 points shooting only 27% from the field. Blake’s best game of the season was in Golden State when he took over for Nash at the point where he scored 10 points but still only shot 30% from the field.
3. Nick Young
Nick Young hasn’t had a terrible week, but he hasn’t had an impressive one either. Young averaged 9.5 points on only 35% from the field. We saw a spark in Young’s game when he was moved to the bench against the Hawks for Xavier Henry. Young tied his season high of 13 points and had season highs in assists and rebounds with 4 each. I like Young coming off the bench and hope he can continue what we saw Sunday night.