Winners and Losers from Week 2 of the Los Angeles Lakers' Preaseason
The second week of the 2012-13 preseason for the Los Angeles Lakers has now been completed, with a few reserve positions still up in the air for the Lakers rotation. While the starters are set in stone, some Lakers reserves are locked in battles to make the Lakers final roster and have a shot at productive minutes for the upcoming regular season.
The backup guard positions, both point guard and shooting guard, are still undecided at this point in the preseason. Also up in the air is which rookie or young veteran player will grab the Lakers final roster spot.
You can never have enough capable big men in the NBA, as some early preseason injuries to key Lakers players has proven.
With these thoughts in mind, which Lakers were the movers and shakers of Week 2 of the preseason? Let's take a look at three winners and losers for Week 2 and why they have either gained some momentum or cooled off during the past week of training camp.
Loser: Steve Blake and Chris Duhon
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE
Both Steve Blake and Chris Duhon have been given an opportunity to impress the Lakers coaches and gain a leg up in the battle to be Steve Nash's primary backup, but neither has done much to make his case.
Blake and Duhon have scored a combined two points on 1-8 shooting so far in three preseason games for the Lakers. Even more disappointing is that the veteran reserves also have only five assists between them in 42 minutes of preseason action. Blake has the edge on Duhon four assists to one.
Rumors are circling that the Lakers are open to trading one of the veteran point guards, and neither one played in the Lakers 99-86 preseason loss the the Utah Jazz Saturday night (via San Gabriel Valley Tribune).
As it stands right now, both Duhon and Blake were on the losing end for the second week of preseason for the Lakers.
Winner: Darius Morris
Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE
Darius Morris has been the main beneficiary of Blake and Duhon's inability to secure the backup point guard role. While neither Blake nor Duhon received playing time in the Lakers last preseason game against the Jazz, Morris logged 19 minutes as Nash's backup, contributing two points and four assists in his time on the floor after scoring five points in the Lakers second preseason game.
Coach Mike Brown has elevated Morris to second-string in practice recently, hoping to get a better look at the second-year pro out of Michigan (via LA Times). The 6'4" Morris does bring size and youth to the Lakers point guard position, something neither 6'2" Blake nor Duhon can offer.
With Blake and Duhon both unable to secure the position as Nash's primary backup, Morris has a prime opportunity to make his case for a spot in the Lakers rotation. That makes him a winner during the second week of the preseason.
Loser: Jordan Hill
After being named one of the early winners after impressing everyone during the first week of Lakers training camp, Jordan Hill was diagnosed with a herniated disc in his back, sidelining him for a few weeks.
It's a similar injury that has sidelined Lakers center Dwight Howard
Luckily for Hill, his back injury does not require surgery and he should be able to return before the regular season. Nonetheless, a back injury for an active big man that the Lakers are expecting to have a huge role off the bench this season is discouraging. Hill looked like one of the brightest spots for the Lakers bench, which is still trying to find a steady rotation before the regular season begins.
If Hill can return from his injury and quickly regain his form from Week 1 of the preseason, then he will again be one of the winners during training camp. As that still remains to be seen, Hill can only be classified as a "loser" for the second week of the preseason for the Lakers.
Winner: Devin Ebanks
Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE
Devin Ebanks was named a winner after the first week of training camp and continues to make a strong case for himself as a primary backup guard/forward for the Lakers this season.
The lanky 6'9" wing has been one of the most productive players off the bench for the Lakers through their first three preseason games, averaging 8.3 ppg in about 16 minutes per game.
Another encouraging sign for Ebanks this preseason is that he has continued to show range on his jump shot.
Ebanks will need to consistently hit the open jumper if he wins the backup shooting guard position over Jodie Meeks. So far, Ebanks appears to have the edge in the competition, as Meeks' only extended minutes of playing time came in the Lakers second preseason game against the Portland Trail Blazers, which Kobe Bryant sat out of with a shoulder strain.
Devin Ebanks has been one of the brightest spots off the bench for the Lakers this preseason. If he continues his solid play, Ebanks will definitely earn big rotation minutes as the Lakers backup wing at both the shooting guard and small forward positions.
Winner: Robert Sacre
Sacre has taken full advantage of his opportunity with Howard out.
Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE
In what has been somewhat a feeling out period of preseason for the Lakers, no other new face in Los Angeles has made a larger positive impression than rookie center Robert Sacre.
Sacre began training camp as a question mark to make the Lakers roster after being selected 60th overall in the 2012 draft. Since he has been starting at center for the Lakers in place of Dwight Howard, Sacre has impressed the Lakers with his energy and potential, contributing nine points and 10 rebounds in Saturday's preseason loss to the Jazz.
Sacre has even played well enough to gain high praise from Kobe Bryant for his intelligence and ability so far.
Kobe said the following regarding Sacre, via the LA Times:
He's a very smart player, so he's able to read the defense, and read how they're playing Steve [Nash], how they're reading me. He's able to get himself in positions to be successful. He made plays for others as well as making plays for himself. He's doing a fantastic job. I'm pleasantly surprised in what we have in him.
Given the Lakers limited depth at the center position, Sacre now appears to be a lock to make the opening day roster for the Lakers as a reserve big man. Of course, Sacre will not be starting once Dwight Howard returns, but he has played well enough to earn rotation minutes on a Lakers team that is poised to make a championship run in 2012-13.
That's not bad for the player once dubbed as "Mr. Irrelevant", the honorary nickname given to the last pick in the draft.