Lakers Trending Up And Down As China Trip, Preseason Winds Down

092013-NBA-Lakers-Ryan-Kelly-DG-PI_2013092022480350_660_320The Lakers will finish their China trip with a preseason game tomorrow morning against the Warriors and then there will be just two games until opening night on October 29. This was the first time the Lakers went overseas during the preseason since the 2010 season when they went to London and Barcelona.

As camp winds down, the Lakers have trimmed their roster to 16 players as Darius Johnson-Odom was the latest player to released with the Lakers overseas. With the season just days away, here are the players trending up and down.

Trending Up: 

Ryan Kelly

Kelly has been battling a foot injury for most of camp and while he was progressing, players like Xavier Henry and Shawne Williams were taking advantage without him able to get onto the court.

However, during the Lakers trip to China, Kelly saw the court against the Warriors on Tuesday as he made two of his three three-point attempts with three rebounds in 12 minutes of play. Drafted due to his ability to stretch the floor from the power forward position, Kelly bought himself some time to prove he belongs on the Lakers opening night roster.

Xavier Henry

Henry continues to prove he deserves a spot on the Lakers roster as he had 14 points and four rebounds Tuesday morning in Beijing and is averaging 13.5 points in five preseason games. As Wesley Johnson continues to recover from a foot injury, Henry is definitely making a case to start at the small forward position.

A lottery pick back in 2010, Henry is still just 22-years-old and is showing that a change of scenery could be just the trick for him to show his full potential in the NBA.

Chris Kaman

Signed to a one-year contract over the summer, Kaman came into camp as the backup center as it was expected that Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill would start the season in the starting lineup. However, Mike D’Antoni experimented with Gasol and Kaman in the frontcourt and its turned into a good idea.

Kaman and Gasol have shown an ability to play together as both are extremely intelligent passers and there seems to be a chemistry developing between the two veterans. Through four games, Kaman is averaging 12 points and eight rebounds and if I had to make a guess, hell be starting alongside Gasol at Staples Center against the Clippers on opening night.

Trending Down: 

Jordan Hill

Hill was the expected power forward coming into camp, but all hasn’t gone according to plan for the former lottery pick. D’Antoni has experimented with Kaman and Gasol in the starting lineup and the results have been positive.

Meanwhile, Hill hasn’t scored in two games and while that isn’t necessary his strong suite, he’s only pulled down six rebounds in those two games. An energy player his entire career, it looks like Hill will start the season coming off the bench and could be Gasol’s backup at the center position.

Jodie Meeks

The Lakers are very deep in the backcourt and Meeks could be the odd-man out as Nick Young and Henry have really stuck out in the preseason. While Meeks tries to put his head down and get the the rim, he’s more effective beyond the three-point line and he showed that last season, shooting 36 percent behind the line.

Until Kobe Bryant comes back, the Lakers will need to rely on all their backcourt depth, but he could be lost in the shuffle when they’re at full strength.

Marcus Landry

While Kelly and Henry have put themselves into a position to make the team, Landry hasn’t done much outside of practice. D’Antoni praised Landry as the best shooter on the team, but he hasn’t done much to prove to the fans that he is.

While he scored 13 points in the second preseason game, Landry hasn’t scored more than three points in four of five games and is likely the next player to be cut.

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