LA Lakers: Determining the Perfect Role for Each Supporting Player
The Los Angeles Lakers boast one of the best starting lineups in the entire league, but a good starting five is not a recipe for a championship.
Supporting players are important, just look at this year's NBA Finals. The Oklahoma City Thunder had Sixth Man of the Year, James Harden, and a solid contributor in Nick Collison.
The Miami Heat had a slew of talented players and veterans that included Mike Miller, Shane Battier, Udonis Haslem and Norris Cole.
Bench play is crucial in both the regular season and the playoffs, and I'll break down how the Lakers will use their role players this year.
Jamison's job will be to provide consistent scoring off the bench and grab boards. He averaged 17 points last season, but did so on 40 percent shooting.
However, with less minutes on the court, he should be expected to become more efficient. His rebounding has been consistent throughout his career, and based on the last few seasons, six rebounds a game could be expected.
His defense has always been inconsistent, but the Lakers won't use him for stopping another team's offense. Jamison's job is to score and grab the missed shots, nothing more.
Jordan Hill will be asked to give Dwight breathers, and most of his impact will be on defense. Hill has improved on the defensive side of the ball over the last few seasons, and I expect that trend to continue.
He will contest shots around the basket, as well as put some blocks on the stat sheet. On offense, Hill can get some shots in the paint, but I don't see him getting any touches.
While Jamison will be the offensive weapon, Hill will provide the defensive presence.
Steve Blake's role will be almost identical to last year: hit threes.
Blake is a good shooter who should get a very high number of open looks from deep this season. With him on the floor, the Lakers will run a slower pace as Nash rests on the side.
Blake's defense is a slight step down from Nash, but that should not be too noticeable as both are known to be weak defenders.
Expect to see Blake among the leaders in three-point shots made as the season closes.
Meeks' role will be almost identical to Blake's as he will be asked to hit threes for the team.
He's more athletic than Blake, which could give the Lakers someone who can run the fast break, but most of his impact will be from behind the arc.
On defense, Meek uses his athleticism to challenge his man in coverage, but is only a slight improvement over Blake and Nash. Still, he's only 25 years old, which makes him an investment for the Lakers.
LA boasts a relatively old team, with four of their starters over the age of 30. Meeks is one of the few younger players who will get consistent playing time.
Expect to see some considerable improvement to his game as the season ends.
Devin Ebanks, Earl Clark and Chris Duhon
These three are the deep end of the bench, and won't get too many minutes to prove themselves.
Ebanks is a big man who the Lakers seem to like, and he has showed solid improvement in his game over the past two years.
While he is buried in the depth chart, he is a project player who, in a few years, could be ready to do some damage.
Clark is an incredibly inconsistent player whose best asset is his athletic ability, while Duhon is a good ball distributor with decent shooting ability and will probably get the most minutes of the three.
Overall though, the first four players mentioned in this list will be the real contributors off the bench.
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