The injury issues that have plagued the Los Angeles Lakers are well known at this point. Before the season began, the team lost four wing players in Talen Horton-Tucker, Wayne Ellington, Trevor Ariza and Kendrick Nunn, completely depleting the Lakers’ wing rotation.
Horton-Tucker is making progress on his potential return, but the Lakers have already welcomed one of those guards back as Ellington made his return last week against the Oklahoma City Thunder. He only played in nine minutes in that contest, but with things getting out of hand for the Lakers against the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday, Ellington was able to log 25 minutes and knocked down a pair of 3-pointers.
The numbers haven’t been great for Ellington so far and he’s knocked down just three of his 12 threes so far. But Lakers head coach Frank Vogel believes the veteran is making positive progression in his return so far.
“Yeah, it’s another new guy trying to learn new teammates and new systems, which is part of why we are not winning more right now,” Vogel said after Monday’s shootaround. “But he’s going to be somebody that really helps us and it was good that he was able to just play, blow it out in the fourth quarter the other night, play the whole quarter and see the ball go in a few times.”
“I think it just, anybody coming back from injury, it takes a few games to get their legs under them, to get their rhythm and timing right. And you add that to the fact that we have a lot of new guys to each other, it’s going to be a process, but two positive games.”
Vogel makes very reasonable and understandable points about the situation Ellington is faced with. The Lakers have a lot of new players all trying to figure each other out and being injured delays that process even further. Just coming back from injury and getting your rhythm together is difficult, but doing so while trying to learn new systems and teammates makes things even tougher.
Ellington is a veteran who has seen nearly everything there is in the NBA and the Lakers will be relying on his shooting ability as things move forward. The team as a whole must get their act together, but Ellington getting more comfortable will surely help things along that path.
Horton-Tucker to be cleared for contact practice Tuesday
With Ellington already back, the Lakers could soon be getting another important piece of their backcourt rotation back as Vogel announced that Horton-Tucker will be cleared for contact practice beginning on Tuesday.
“Yeah, so Talen’s going to be cleared for contact tomorrow, which is exciting,” the Lakers head coach said. “We don’t really have any timetable as to when he’ll return to game action, that’ll take some time, but he’s gonna be cleared to practice tomorrow.”
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