Lakers Trending Up And Down: Three Preseason Games Down, Five To Go

Xavier HenryThe Lakers have played three preseason games since last week and surprisingly, they’ve looked considerably better than I or most people believed they would.

Two wins in Ontario against the Warriors and Nuggets was sprinkled in with a loss to the Nuggets at Staples Center on Sunday night. Steve Nash and Pau Gasol both returned to the starting lineup as Kobe Bryant remains sidelined with an Achilles injury as an opening night return seems unlikely at this point.

Regardless, there were plenty of players that have showcased themselves to the Lakers coaching staff in another edition of Lakers’ who are trending up and down.

Trending Up: 

Xavier Henry

In last weeks edition, Henry was the last player I listed on trending down as he was on the bubble to make the team and showed nothing to suggest he’d break out. Well, three preseason games in and Henry has shown the most of any Laker player as he’s averaging 17 points on 50 percent  shooting from the field.

While it’s the preseason and it’s hard to truly evaluate players, Henry has worked his way off the roster bubble, but a wrist injury could impact how much time he sees moving forward.

Chris Kaman/Pau Gasol Frontcourt combo

Head coach Mike D’Antoni started Jordan Hill and Shawne Williams at the power forward spot in the first two preseason games, but last night he experimented with a Gasol and Kaman frontcourt.

Gasol scored 14 points to go along with eight rebounds and two assists and Kaman chipped in 12 points, seven rebounds and three assists. The chemistry between the two veterans was evident from tip-off as both displayed a deft passing touch from in low and in the high post.

Nash said the duo exceeded his expectations and it’ll be interesting to see how D’Antoni uses his two-best frontcourt players moving forward.

Nick Young

The LA product has definitely been one of the nice stories in camp as he averaged 12 points, but did show that he can play good defense on the wing.

With Kobe unlikely to start on opening night, Young is the likely candidate to fill-in for him at the starting shooting guard position as he looks to be another player that will benefit from a switch into D’Antoni’s system.

Trending Down:

Wesley Johnson

Johnson played 20 unimpressive minutes in the Lakers first preseason game and in game number two, he left with a strained foot. With Henry playing so well, Johnson now has competition for the starting small forward position and is behind the eight ball with his injury.

A candidate to break out in D’Antoni’s system, Johnson didn’t show much in his first two preseason games so hopefully he’ll be better for the Lakers trip to China.

Marcus Landry

The Lakers cut their roster down to 17 this morning and Landry could be in the next round of cuts. While Landry scored 13 points on Sunday, he’s not likely to make the team out of training camp.

While D’Antoni said that he believes Landry is an NBA player and probably the Lakers best shooter, there doesn’t seem to be a place for him on the roster for this season.

Head Coach Mike D’Antoni Was Impressed With Pau Gasol And Chris Kaman In Win

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