Last week the Los Angeles Lakers returned from the All-Star break. The team only played two games, one against the Oklahoma City Thunder and the other against the San Antonio Spurs. Both games were underwhelming as the Lakers lost each by double digits.
Hopefully as the season comes to a close the Lakers can finish off by playing better than they have to head into the offseason with something to be proud of.
Here is what is trending up and trending down for the Lakers this week.
It should not come as a surprise that Russell played better offensively last week. With Lou Williams no longer on the team, Russell will be asked to take more control offensively. He delivered well, finishing with 29 points against the Thunder and 18 points against the Spurs.
From this point on Russell has the opportunity to prove to the Lakers’ front office that he can become the superstar the city has craved since Kobe Bryant retired last season.
Arguably the Lakers best player now, he will be held accountable for the way the team performs on the court. Hopefully he can take those expectations and use it as motivation to be the leader he has to be.
Ingram also had a nice showing last week. He finished with 22 points, a career-high, against the Spurs and really took his matchup with All-Star Kawhi Leonard personally.
Being in the starting lineup will help him gain the experience needed to further improve his play as he matures. He has shown glimpses of the type of player he could be–and from the looks of it he can be a great one.
The Lakers will need some solid production from Ingram to be competitive on a nightly basis and hopefully he can deliver.
The Lakers defense last week was horrendous to say the least. They allowed at least 110 points in each game. Their biggest problem on the defensive end is their lack of communication. Often they find themselves running around trying their best to recover and contest an open shot attempt from the opposing team. One of the goals for the remainder of the season should be to focus on playing better defense.
No matter how much the Lakers improve offensively they will not be successful if they cannot play solid defense. This includes: Ingram, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and anyone else on the team that has all of the physical tools needed to be really good defenders. They just have to work hard and make the commitment on that end of the floor.
Besides Jordan Clarkson, the Lakers bench struggled to produce offensively the way we are accustomed to seeing them. Part of that, obviously, is due to no longer having the luxury of Lou Williams.
That should not serve as an excuse for the lack of production, but rather as an opportunity for another player to step up. This is a golden opportunity for Larry Nance Jr., Ivica Zubac, and the recently acquired Tyler Ennis to step up and keep the Lakers among the top bench units in the league.