The slew of injuries the Lakers have dealt with this season has forced the players to continually adjust their game as their roles change on an almost nightly basis. Despite all of the challenges they’ve faced, the Lakers still took the defending champion Miami Heat down to the wire, and almost stole a win.
Despite their best efforts, the Lakers have now lost three-straight games and really need to turn things around quickly if they plan on making a playoff push. The Christmas game did give us an idea of who could be getting their shot in the rotation going forward.
With all that being said, here are the Lakers trending up and down after the Christmas game:
When Kobe Bryant went down because of injury again, we knew someone would have to step up on the scoring end for the Lakers. Nick Young has done that and more for this team. Young seems to be the standard bearer for this team as when he gets going, the energy of the entire team rises.
Young now leads the team in scoring, and in the month of December is averaging just under 19 points per game. He has proven to be the Lakers’ best shot creator and has Coach D’Antoni singing his praises. As long as he continues to play this way, Young could end up being Sixth Man of the Year.
Kelly showed what he was capable of during his stint in the NBA D-League and yesterday he had his first big moment in the NBA and he took complete advantage of it. His stat line wasn’t that impressive as he only tallied four points, one rebound, and one assist, but good things just seemed to happen when Kelly was on the floor.
He had a plus/minus of three yesterday, and D’Antoni even stuck with him deep into the fourth quarter. He is a true stretch four, which D’Antoni loves and his shooting ability spaces the floor for the Lakers’ other players. He clearly shouldn’t be matched up against LeBron James again, but don’t be surprised if D’Antoni gives him another long look in the Lakers upcoming games.
Nobody’s role has been affected more by the constant injuries and lineup shifts than Henry’s. He has constantly switched between starter and bench player, scorer, distributor, and ball handler and, despite some ups and downs, has proven that he is a valuable part of this team.
He is still performs much better at home than on the road, but he is still attacks the basket better than any other Laker and has shot his free throws much better recently, coming in at just under 70 percent in the month of December. His ability to play whatever role is necessary will suit him well once the rest of the team gets healthy.
It wasn’t that long ago, that Sacre had seemed to carve himself a spot in D’Antoni’s rotation. But with the recent play of Chris Kaman, and now Ryan Kelly getting a shot with extended minutes, Sacre has fallen back to the end of the bench.
He logged a DNP-Coach’s Decision against the Heat and with Jordan Hill starting to pick his game up again as of late, Sacre will be hard pressed to crack the rotation for extended minutes. Sacre has shown great improvements this season and he surely will get his chance again, but as of right now, he’s probably last in the big man pecking order.
Williams has gotten numerous chances to make an impact with the Lakers this season, but so far, has not been the stretch four D’Antoni has expected. Williams has been an solid rebounder, and his length has helped him make some solid defensive plays at times, but his shooting has been nearly non-existent this season.
Williams stands to be the biggest loser from the recent Ryan Kelly experiment especially if Kelly shoots the ball well. They share the same role so any promotion of Kelly means a demotion for Williams. He will have to find a way to get some points on the board soon as average rebounding numbers will not be enough to keep his spot in the rotation safe.
Marshall has not had a good start to his Laker stint, although there hasn’t been much time on the court to show for it. In a rotation as ever-changing as this one, you have to take advantage of the small opportunities you are given and Marshall did not do that in his first game for the Lakers.
Furthermore, with Jordan Farmar returning and D’Antoni completely comfortable with Xavier Henry and Nick Young sharing ball handling duties, Marshall will struggle to see playing time except in the most extreme of circumstances. When Marshall gets his chance, he will have to take advantage of it, but there is no telling when that time will come.
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