While the Los Angeles Lakers have a talented young core, their roster features perhaps three of the best leaders in LeBron James, Rajon Rondo and Tyson Chandler.
Since James (groin strain) and Rondo (hand surgery) have missed the last five games while Chandler (back spasms) has missed one game, the Lakers have gone 1-4.
Despite having second-half leads in all four losses, the Lakers have been unable to close out games and a common theme has emerged. When opponents start to make their runs, there is a lack of ball movement and communication which results in poor shot selection and turnovers.
As the Lakers embark on a two-game road trip against the Minnesota Timberwolves and Dallas Mavericks, head coach Luke Walton is looking for a leader to emerge amid all of the injuries.
“It’s got to come from the group. We know we have some of the best leaders in the game. We’ve got LeBron and Rondo and Tyson, but they’re hurt so it’s up to other people to step up and lead,” Walton said.
“Guys are doing it, we just have to do more of it. It’s great when things are going well, and the challenge is when we hit dry spells or other teams get hot. That’s when it starts getting quiet, and that’s when we need it the most.
“That’s when we need five guys huddling up on the court talking about what happened on the last play, what’s going to happen on the next play, being in the moment of playing. It’s something that normally comes with age, and we’re playing a lot of young guys right now but that’s where we’re at. We trust and believe that the guys playing can win. We just have to do it.”
While the young core is learning how to become leaders, they are naturally quiet. In late-game situations, they resort to what makes them comfortable instead of playing the way that got them their leads.
As James and Rondo will miss more games, Lance Stephenson is prepared to take it upon himself to be the Lakers’ leader.
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