Los Angeles Lakers: Why Devin Ebanks Needs More Playing Time at Small Forward

Joe BarnathanCorrespondent IJanuary 25, 2012

LOS ANGELES - DECEMBER 25:  Head coach Mike Brown talks with Devin Ebanks #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the game against the Chicago Bulls at Staples Center on December 25, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

While I’m not quite ready to hit the panic button, the Lakers certainly have some room for improvement.

It’s no secret that they’ve had a rough few games, however they did play two perennial contenders in the Magic and the Heat, as well as facing one of the more improved teams in the league in the Pacers.

So while it does look ugly losing three games in a row to anybody, the Lakers might want to wait a moment before pulling the trigger on any deals or start firing anyone.

What they should do is take another look at their roster and realize the talent that is sitting at the end of their bench.

Despite starting the first two games of the season, Devin Ebanks seems to have found himself in the doghouse and is struggling to get out. 

Why? There seem to be two main factors, neither having to do directly with Ebanks.

First, Matt Barnes has played very well recently. When he came to the team last year, everyone expected him to be able to contribute the way he has in recent games. He was a big part of their five game winning streak, though his production has slowed a bit during this slump.

Either way, Barnes is certainly one of the most consistent players on this team and has earned his playing time with his defense, ability to run the floor and smart decisions.

The second factor that’s been holding Ebanks back is a little more complex. Of course, anything involving Metta World Peace is complex. 


When Mike Brown made the decision to move World Peace to the bench this year, Brown had to greatly emphasize the forward’s contribution to the team. World Peace was supposed to be the leader of the second unit. I think it’s fair to say that he has been anything but.

However, Lakers fans know that Metta can be more productive than he’s been recently, especially on the defensive end. Making him the third forward off the bench isn’t the way to do it.

This brings up a bit of an issue, though. Can the team really afford to play Metta big minutes in hopes that he’ll figure out his struggles? How can Devin Ebanks sit on the bench while the team continually gets beat by younger, more athletic players?

It seems as though Ebanks has the ability to contribute a lot to this team if given the opportunity. Clearly he isn’t as raw as once thought, considering the fact that he was the starting forward on opening day.

Ironically, while the small forward seems to be one of the weaker positions for the Lakers, they also appear to have a logjam. 

Will World Peace eventually figure things out? If so, Ebanks may be in for a long year.

However, if the team continues to struggle, particularly on offense and transition defense, Mike Brown may have to do what is necessary for the good of the team and bench Metta.

Whether or not Brown will actually make such a drastic change remains to be seen. And, unfortunately, benching World Peace may mentally take him out of the entire season.

I think that’s ultimately what Brown fears. But being afraid doesn’t win you championships.

Making the right decisions, even the hard ones, is what Brown was hired to do. And Ebanks deserves another shot, even at the cost of damaging Brown’s relationship with World Peace.