Last season, the Lakers bench ranked dead last in the NBA in points, averaging 20.5 per game.
This season, despite adding Antawn Jamison, Jodie Meeks and re-signing Jordan Hill, the Lakers bench ranks 29th out of 30 NBA teams (only the Portland Trail Blazers' bench scores less). The second unit is scoring just 18.8 points per game.
Following a year where the second unit was absolutely forgettable, fans were able to assume that it couldn’t possibly be worse. On the contrary, the Lakers’ second unit is actually scoring fewer points off the bench than they did a season ago.
After four games, the Lakers leading bench scorer isn’t Jamison, it isn’t Meeks, it isn’t Hill, not even Steve Blake. The Lakers' leading bench scorer is Darius Morris, averaging just 6.5 points per contest.
Jamison, the marquee signing meant to fix the lowly bench, is averaging 4.3 points per game thus far. The former Sixth Man of the Year award winner averaged 17.2 points per game a season ago for the Cleveland Cavaliers, so an output of less than five points is disappointing to say the least.
Additionally, Meeks is averaging just two points per game as Kobe Bryant's backup.
With that said, the bench has had very little time to get acclimated to the new offense. Jamison has seen just 16.8 minutes per game off the bench while Meeks has received just 7.3 minutes per game. Very few NBA players can develop a solid rhythm without steady playing time.
Mike Brown seems content to rely heavily on the superstar starters, but if an injury occurs (a la Steve Nash), the second unit has very few options that are able to step in and contribute on a high level.
The bench doesn’t have to be great, but it has to avoid being so nonexistent if the Lakers hope to win a championship this season.