Some may wonder why I didn’t mention Pau Gasol, Wesley Johnson, Jordan Farmar, Chris Kaman, or Xavier Henry.
Well, here’s why.
Gasol is supposed to be the go-to player in Kobe’s absence, but hasn’t quite filled that role. However, he’s been playing a bit better as of late, and he’s seemingly letting the game come to him and his teammates, as opposed to forcing his offense. That’s great, as long as things are going well for the team, but he needs to assert himself if or when things aren’t going well for his teammates. Continued conditioning and Kobe’s return should definitely help his level of play and consistency.
As for Wesley Johnson, he’s been inconsistent so far. Some of it’s his fault, and some of it isn’t. His role hasn’t quite been clarified by the Lakers’ coaching staff, as he has been experimented as a wing player as well as a stretch four. Right now, he can bank on starting on the wing, so that should help his consistency a bit. He had a very solid game on both ends of the floor against the Detroit Pistons on Sunday night, which is encouraging.
Jordan Farmar has also been inconsistent and his minutes didn’t necessarily increase upon Steve Nash’s injury. However, he was instrumental in the Lakers’ victory over the Pistons on Sunday, in limited minutes (13). The good news for Farmar is that he knows his role is to lead the Bench Mob, and at times he’s been the Bench Mob Boss. He should hopefully be able to become more consistent if given more consistent minutes.
Chris Kaman, I feel, has been very solid when on the court, but simply doesn’t have a defined role as of yet. His minutes vary on a nightly basis, and will probably continue to do so in the near future.
Xavier Henry is wildly inconsistent at the moment due to a number of factors, and I expect this to continue throughout the season as he’s a young player whose minutes will fluctuate. He’s certainly good for a highlight or two, though.
On a team filled with what most would consider to be role players, four Lakers have seemingly found their roles and thrived in them. Lineup changes, rotation alterations, and continued experimentation have all contributed to inconsistency this season, but at least four players have defined roles on this team and have found ways to consistently contribute in those roles.
Steve Blake, Jodie Meeks, Nick Young, and Jordan Hill have become players the Lakers can count on to deliver on a nightly basis.
Now, we just have to see if/how those players’ roles change at all upon Kobe Bryant’s return, and if they can sustain their high level of play.