It’s no secret that the Los Angeles Lakers are facing clear offensive struggles without LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The nucleus of Dennis Schroder, Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope remains one of the better collection of role players in the entire NBA, but it’s hard to win games without superstars on the court.
The Lakers are 3-5 in the eight consecutive games played without either of their stars, and they’re averaging an abysmal 100 points per game and rank 29th in offensive rating during that span. While they remain one of the best defensive teams in the league — a testament to head coach Frank Vogel — they simply cannot score at a great enough rate to win games consistently.
Caldwell-Pope tried to diagnose the issues, saying that the team needs to play together if they want to find a rhythm on offense. “We need guys to step up no matter who it is. We need guys to step up and score the ball. Just do it in the right way, the right reads. Don’t force anything, but we need pretty much anybody that can score the ball to step up. We need that and it’s just all about staying together.
“One guy might go down and shot three or four shots. If he makes them, cool. We keep feeding him, but I feel like just making the right play and playing together is what we need to do. As far as leadership, that’s everybody. We don’t have our two leaders. … Everybody got to be leaders. We’ve got to be able to hold each other accountable and just be together and not just pull apart.”
Vogel has referred to Schroder as the leader in the locker room without James and Davis, but Caldwell-Pope is still correct about team effort. In their loss to the L.A. Clippers on Sunday, only two players shot over 50% from the field, and it was their two centers in Harrell and Marc Gasol.
On their upcoming five game road trip, the Lakers have three games that are relatively winnable. Nothing will come easy without any superstars, but games against the Toronto Raptors, New York Knicks and Charlotte Hornets will give them a chance to stay afloat.
Nothing concrete on James and Davis returns
Vogel spoke about the statuses of his two superstars, saying that while they’ll both be on the road trip with the team, there is no return date for either of them. “Yeah, they’ll both be on the road with us. AD continues to ramp-up, but still a ways away,” Vogel said before the team’s contest with the Los Angeles Clippers. “LeBron is still out indefinitely.”
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