Lakers Nation Roundtable: Best And Worst Player Impressions

blog_131006lakerssceneThe Lakers’ 2013 preseason is just about over, as their final preseason game is tonight and the season opener is just four days away. Now that the preseason is almost over, fans have seen hints at how this team and its players could perform this season.

Based on what the fans have seen so far in the preseason, which player made the best and worst impression? The Lakers Nation roundtable writers decided to tackle this topic this week. Here’s what they had to say:

Suki Thind (@TheRealSuki): The two players that have impressed me the most are Xavier Henry and Shawne Williams.

Nick Young and Chris Kaman have played well, but I expected as much from them. Coming into the season, I pegged Young as instant offense, and Kaman as a player who would likely fit in seamlessly with this team and benefit greatly from playing alongside highly talented players such as Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and Pau Gasol for the first time in his career.

As for Henry and Williams, they’ve impressed me the most simply because I didn’t know much about them coming into preseason and didn’t plan to really learn about them as I thought they’d be two players who’d get cut before the regular season. However, I’ve been intrigued since the first preseason game, and the two may even become steady rotation players going into the season.

Henry exploded for 29 points in his very first game as a Laker, demanding that everyone watching take notice. Williams, on the other hand, didn’t quite make the entrance Henry did, but has shown his ability to knock down the long ball, and very well could be the stretch four D’Antoni so loves in his offensive system. Additionally, he’s long and has shown flashes of being a solid perimeter and help defender.

Before I go into detail on who impressed me the least, I should note this I wrote this portion prior to Tuesday’s preseason game. The player who’s impressed me the least is Wesley Johnson. Yes, he got injured early on, but prior to that he didn’t really show much. Offensively, he doesn’t look like he has confidence, and defensively, he has the potential but hasn’t shown much either — partially due to his lack of time on the floor. My suggestion for him would be to focus solely on defense and hustle, and the offensive part of his game will come naturally.

Overall, two impressive players versus one unimpressive player is a good sign for the Lakers.

Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner)Right out of the gate, the most impressive player during the preseason for the Los Angeles Lakers has been Xavier Henry. Pau Gasol, Chris Kaman, Nick Young and Jordan Farmar have been impressive at times, but Henry has stuck out in my mind.

There’s no question that Henry is raw and still needs work in many different areas. Henry’s best asset is being fearless and attacking the rim with every opportunity he’s been given. Henry could be a solid addition to the bench for the Lakers and potentially Sixth Man of the Year candidate if able to get considerable time in Mike D’Antoni’s rotation.

As for the most disappointing, I’d have to go with Marcus Landry and Steve Nash. Landry, for the fact that he simply hasn’t taken advantage of the time given on the floor and Nash, because of the persistent injury problems.

It’s safe to say that Landry may end up being the player let go in order to get the roster down to 15 while Nash continues to deal with multiple injury issues. Unfortunately, Nash may deal with injuries for the rest of his career and ultimately become one of the worst trades in Lakers history.

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Ramneet Singh (@RamneetSingh24): The preseason is shortly coming to an end, and the coaching staff has gotten a good look at the roster. These exhibition games are a great way for the new players to get adjusted to the system and the training camp invitees to showcase their skills.

Although he has played only a few games so far into the preseason, I have been very impressed with Jordan Farmar and his ability to run the offense. Not only is Farmar producing on both ends of the court, but it seems as though he has gotten a great grasp of the D’Antoni system. The Lakers need Farmar to be an effective player, especially with an aging Steve Nash in the final stages of his career.

However, I have not been very impressed with the play of Steve Blake, another point guard in the Lakers’ arsenal. Even though Blake’s spot on the team is not in question and it’s only the preseason, I expected to see more from him. Blake is also not the player he once was and even last season he was quite inconsistent.

So far this preseason, Farmar has averaged 13.7 points, 4.7 assists, and 2.3 steals per game, whereas Blake has put up 5.6 points, 4.7 assists, and .86 steals per game.

Elizabeth Benson (@gobibs): With the preseason winding down, Lakers fans have a bit more knowledge of how each player will fit the Mike D’Antoni system and how they will produce as a group. There is no question that team chemistry has improved, as it is apparent that the players enjoy playing alongside one another, which is something Kobe Bryant recently touched on as being important this season.

However, the preseason also presented a chance for the players to leave a first impression with fans, analysts, and the team. The player that impressed me the most was Shawne Williams. Chris Kaman was my second choice, but with lesser-known expectations of Williams going into camp, I have been very pleased with his production so far. He has shown that he is a capable stretch four that has surprisingly been active on defense. If D’Antoni doesn’t choose to start Kaman alongside Pau Gasol, expect to see Williams be inserted into the starting rotation.

While Wes Johnson did not give fans much to celebrate until Tuesday night, the player that I was least impressed with during preseason was Steve Blake. While Blake is a solid backup for Nash, his minutes will increase this season due to managing Nash’s minutes and health. While Blake is a reliable passer and can control the offense, he must knockdown shots, especially open ones. Blake shooting 20 percent from the three-point line and 20 percent from the field so far in the preseason won’t cut it.


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