It has been a rough ride for the Los Angeles Lakers so far this season. Even though the schedule has been extremely daunting, an 0-5 start is still a difficult pill to swallow.
Injuries have played a major role this season as well. Prized rookie Julius Randle has been lost for the season, while Nick Young has yet to take the floor, leaving the Lakers without two players expected to make a big impact.
Despite everything that has happened, there have been some positive signs as guys have played far greater than they were expected to. The play of Kobe Bryant has been the major story this season, but players like Jordan Hill and Ed Davis have also been extremely impressive.
On the other end, there have also been some players who haven’t exactly lived up to expectations that were placed upon them coming into the year. As the season goes on, things are sure to change but for now, we wanted to know which player has been the most impressive and least impressive so far this season. This is what our experts had to say:
Nathan Kim (@Kimchiz): The most impressive player so far has undoubtedly been Kobe Bryant. Kobe’s performance this season garnered an immense amount of attention.
There were many reasons for this great anticipation including his age and his recovery from two major injuries. To the surprise of many, Kobe is showing that he still has a lot of game left in him. In 5 games he has averaged 27.6 points, 2.8 assists, and 5.2 rebounds.
These stats are, however, reflective of him shouldering much of the offensive load, as many of his teammates struggle to contribute. This reliance on Kobe has not proven to be effective as the Lakers have not won a game in the 5 played so far.
The most disappointing player so far has been Jeremy Lin. Lin is the key to the puzzle that is the Laker’s offense. As the point guard he needs to run the offense that Byron Scott has for the team and so far he has not.
While Scott has been telling Lin to penetrate, there are many instances where Lin either penetrates and does not have anyone to pass to, or simply loses control. Lin has averaged 3.4 turnovers per game and has been unable to find a consistent rhythm on the team.
I do think however, that once Lin is able to learn the offense that Scott would have him run he will be able to make the players on the court better and have a profound impact on the team.
Corey Hansford (@TheeCoreyH): Kobe Bryant’s play so far has blown me away, and Jordan Hill’s improved jump shot has really taken his game to the next level, but to me, Ed Davis has been the most impressive player for the Lakers.
What has impressed me the most about Davis is his efficiency. Too often players try to do things that they aren’t good at. Davis understands his strengths and plays toward them, he consistently gets to spots where he can do damage and finishes once he receives the ball as his 70 percent field goal percentage is evidence of.
He has also continued his great work on on defense and on the boards, ranking second on the team in rebounds and blocks and generally being the most consistent Laker big when it comes to defense on pick and rolls, and altering shots.
On the other end, there are a couple of options as Jeremy Lin has not given the Lakers what they need from the point guard position, and Carlos Boozer has been downright frustrating to watch. But neither of them had more praise heaped on them than Wesley Johnson.
Boozer has probably been worse than Johnson, but expectations weren’t high as it was. Both Kobe and head coach Byron Scott spoke so highly of Johnson this off-season and he just hasn’t come close to living up to it. There has been no lock down defense, no growth on offense, and there are times when you don’t even realize Johnson is on the court.
The numbers back it up as Johnson is averaging only eight points and three rebounds with less than a steal per game. He is shooting only 40 percent, and his PER of 7.6 is the lowest of any Laker rotation player. Johnson must turn things around in order for the Lakers to succeed.
Kevin Chan (@Kevin_Cruiser): Clearly everyone is talking about Kobe’s return from injury. He’s been playing well and looks like his mid 2000s self as he tries to put the team on his back every night. Unfortunately the results haven’t been pretty since Kobe isn’t the same physical specimen he once was.
That being said, the player who has impressed me the most is Jordan Hill. Hill has always been a great rebounder, but this season he’s taken his offense to a whole new level. Jordan Hill has been consistently knocking down his mid-range jumpers. Granted opponents have left him wide open, but it’s big step for him to be confident in his jump shot.
With a career high of 14.8 points per game, Hill is the Lakers second leading scorer. Last season Hill only reached the 20-point scoring plateau seven times in 72 games. Through five games this year he’s already recorded 20 points twice.
In addition to his surprising offense, Hill has been solid on defense and leads the team with 1.6 blocks per game. He’s been anchoring the Lakers porous defense and has protected the rim well. I don’t know if this will last, but let’s admire Hill’s development through the first five games.
Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner): At this point in time, I’d have to go with Ed Davis being the most impressive on the squad thus far. Davis was a steal for the Lakers in the off-season and the move has already begun to pay off. Although Davis is still coming off the bench, the former North Carolina standout is as efficient as can be in the minutes given to him.
In the first four games, Davis is shooting a remarkable 70 percent from the floor while averaging 12.0 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.0 block per game. Even though Jordan Hill has also stepped it up, I’d say Davis, who will earn only $981,084 this season, is easily the most impressive player on the team up to this point.
As for the least impressive, I’d have to go with Jeremy Lin. The 26-year-old showed signs of promise in the preseason and had a good outings against the Los Angeles Clippers recently, but overall he’s been a disappointment.
Lin shows flashes of his dominant form with the New York Knicks, but has struggled with consistency. In the first four games, Lin shot an awful 34.5 percent from the floor to go along with 9.0 points and 5.5 assists per game.
With Steve Nash done for the year and rookie Jordan Clarkson more of a shooting guard rather than a point, Lin will need to shoulder the load in the backcourt this season. Ronnie Price has been good in spurts, but all the pressure will be on Lin to produce moving forward.[divide]
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