How the Los Angeles Lakers Can Reshape Lackluster Second Unit
Harry How/Getty Images
The Los Angeles Lakers statistically have the worst bench in the NBA. They only average 21 points per game on 42 percent shooting, leaving the bulk of the work up to Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.
What's worse, Metta World Peace will likely miss a majority, if not the entirety, of the first-round playoff series after his elbow connected with James Harden Sunday afternoon in the Lakers' thrilling double-overtime victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
That will deprive the Lakers of their best wing defender, furthering their dependency on bench play and forcing Mike Brown to find someone who can take pressure of Kobe in the scoring department when he's not in the game.
For starters, I think it's clear Devin Ebanks deserves the starting gig in World Peace's absence. He's averaging close to six points and three rebounds per game over the last 10, playing solid defense. While he isn't the scorer or defender World Peace is, Ebanks knows his role and has decision-making that World Peace lacks.
The question remains, however, what do you do with the rest of the second unit?
This is the time that having Derek Fisher would come in handy. He would still be starting, but Ramon Sessions has played like a top-flight point guard in many of his games since joining the Lakers, signaling that those minutes could have been valuable off the bench and in closing situations if the team still had the stability of Fisher in the early going.
Fisher's trade hurt, but it also freed up some cap room for Sessions and brought back Jordan Hill, another enigma in terms of minutes and value heading into the postseason. Never playing more than eight minutes until Sunday, he exploded for 14 points and 15 rebounds in 35 minutes while Bynum watched the fourth quarter and the overtimes from the end of the bench.
Which Laker reserve needs to step up most?
Elsewhere, the inconsistencies of Barnes and Josh McRoberts are glaring. Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock are both firmly planted at the end of the pine. Troy Murphy doesn't assert himself with extended playing time, and Steve Blake, though a hero against OKC, can't be trusted normally.
If the Lakers are going to make another run at Kobe's sixth title, they'll have to do it on the strength of their starters and the philosophy Mike Brown has advocated this entire season—playing the hot hand.
Whatever the case may be, Brown is going to have his hands full establishing any kind of consistent rotation behind his big three and Sessions. Losing World Peace hurts, and might cost them should he get a lengthy suspension.
But the NBA playoffs are a time where legends are born and heroes are remembered, and this is the time for some of the Lakers key reserves to decide if they fall into any of those categories. For Kobe's sake, and the sake of Laker nation, let's hope so.
What is the duplicate article?
Why is this article offensive?
Where is this article plagiarized from?
Why is this article poorly edited?