Lakers Review: Kyle Kuzma Among Standouts Through First Quarter Of 2017-18 NBA Season
Photo Credit: Darrell Ann

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The first quarter of the 2017-18 NBA season is officially in the books, and the Los Angeles Lakers find themselves with an 8-13 record entering play on Saturday night.

Through the first 21 games of the season, the Lakers have picked up a handful of wins against playoff-hopeful teams, including the Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards.

While the Lakers rank near the bottom in 3-point efficiency, the young group of players have seen a vast turnaround on defense — ranking eighth in defensive rating (102) after placing 30th in the league last season.

Let’s look at the first month and a half of the season and hand out grades to each individual Lakers player, based on performance, expectations and health.

Lonzo Ball (Grade: C+)

The UCLA product entered the 2017-18 season with sky-high expectations as the Lakers’ second overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

In 21 games, Ball has averaged nine points, seven rebounds and 7.2 assists per game, on 31.5 percent shooting from the floor and 25.7 percent from behind the arc.

What’s more, he has totaled 1.4 steals and 0.8 blocks per contest — which ranks third and fourth on the team, respectively.

Ball has struggled with his shooting form thus far, but nonetheless has been filling up the stat sheet in other ways. He became the youngest player in history to record two triple-doubles, and has posted an additional three double-doubles in the early going.

If not for his shooting woes, Ball’s grade would be much more favorable. In his most recent matchup against the Golden State Warriors, he scored 15 points on 5-of-12 shooting and connected on three of his seven attempts from behind the arc.

If Ball is able to consistently put up those kind of performances, Ball is headed for an excellent second quarter of the season.

Andrew Bogut (Grade: C-)

Injuries plagued the early portion of Bogut’s season, as the big man only logged an average of eight minutes over 14 games for the Lakers during the first quarter of the year.

Bogut hasn’t been effective on the offensive end, but showed flashes of being an elite rim protector, averaging 3.2 blocks per 36 minutes. When healthy, he can collect rebounds with the best of them — as evidenced by 13.8 total per 36 minutes.

If Bogut can stay on the court, his presence will only improve the Lakers’ surprisingly strong defensive unit going forward.

Corey Brewer (Grade: C)

A free agent at the conclusion of the season, Brewer has played a key role for the Lakers off the bench. He averages nearly one steal per game, despite only seeing 12.5 minutes of action per contest.

Brewer has struggled with his shot, but additionally adds value to the young squad being a veteran presence in the locker room.

The 31-year-old is an obvious trade candidate if the Lakers go that route in the coming months, but in the meantime,

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Grade: B)

The offseason acquisition arrived to Los Angeles with a focus on improving the team’s defense and 3-point shooting.

After serving a two-game suspension to begin the season, Caldwell-Pope has suited up in the ensuing 19 contests, averaging 14.6 points and 5.4 rebounds with a field goal percentage of 42.2.

He ranks third on the team from behind the arc (35.4 percent) and has already accumulated nearly one full defensive win share. While his shooting can stand for improvement, he’s a large reason why the Lakers have performed so well defensively this season.

CONTINUE READING: Grades for Jordan Clarkson, Kyle Kuzma, and others

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