Who Have Been the L.A. Lakers' Most Disappointing Players So Far This Season?
After a slow start to the season, the Los Angeles Lakers have started to right the ship. They've been playing better basketball as a team, and it's led to better results in the win-loss column.
The Lakers, however, still have some players that have had disappointing starts to the season. For some players, it's simply a matter of being in increased roles and not being able to meet the expectations of those roles. For others, it's about not matching previous career benchmarks. Or, further still, it could be a case of an injury contributing to a disappointing first month of the campaign.
Whatever the reason may be, one thing is a constant among all of these players—they've all been disappointments through the first month of the season for the Lakers.
Note: All stats are current as of Nov. 26.
You could say that Steve Nash's play hasn't been disappointing this season, and that would be true. But in order to be a disappointment on the court, one actually has to get on the court. Thus far, that's something Nash has failed to do with any consistency.
Ever since he injured his left leg on Oct. 31, Nash hasn't been on the court. The injury has since been characterized as a fractured left fibula, and no time frame has been set for his return to the lineup.
"The other Steve is coming along," Mike D'Antoni said of the two-time league MVP, according to ESPN. "I don't think we have a timetable. He feels some nerve endings that are tingling and when they go away, we'll start ramping it up and he'll be fine." D'Antoni went on to say:
Whether it's tomorrow or next week or next month, we'll just take our time and he'll eventually be there. As soon as he gets there, I know, give him an hour and a half and he'll have the offense down and running it like a clock. So we can wait on that.
Not having Nash is a disappointment for the Lakers, especially now that the coach he thrived under—Mike D'Antoni—has taken over the reins in Los Angeles.
As D'Antoni pointed out, when Nash does return, he shouldn't have much trouble getting back into the swing of things. But with no estimate set for his return, the Lakers will have to make do without him.
Pau Gasol simply isn't getting it done for the Lakers. In fact, Gasol's been so bad that when Mike D'Antoni was asked following Friday's loss to the Grizzlies why he didn't play Gasol down the stretch, according to Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register, this was his reply:
Why did D'Antoni sit Pau down the stretch? "I was thinking I'd like to win this game, that's what I was thinking."
— KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) November 24, 2012
Given Gasol's lengthy track record of success, there's reason to believe he'll be able to get it going. But there's no denying how terrible he's been playing lately.
He's only shooting 43.4 percent from the field. That's the worst clip of his career, and well below his career field-goal percentage of 51.9 percent. So far, Gasol's win-shares per 48 minutes (.112) is the lowest it's ever been. The same can be said of his 15.2 PER (player efficiency rating), which is barely above league average.
Those simply aren't the numbers and production we expected from Gasol this season. In his defense, we aren't even 20 percent of the way through the year so there's time to turn it around. But he's been absolutely pitiful so far.
It finally looks like Antawn Jamison is coming out of his season-long funk, having averaged 17.5 points on 63.6 percent shooting in his last two games. Up until then, Jamison wasn't getting the job done for the Lakers.
Jamison, who was brought in to provide a spark off the bench, wasn't shooting the ball often enough to have an impact. Through the first 12 games, he only averaged 3.8 field-goal attempts per game. The low shot attempts led to a scoring average of 3.8 points per game. Both of those figures were unacceptable for a team's sixth man.
In the team's two most recent games, though, Jamison averaged 11 field-goal attempts per contest. That's the key to his success and what will get him back on track. Granted, if the shot's not there, he shouldn't keep forcing it. But if he's not shooting the ball enough to begin with, he obviously can't score with any regularity.
He still needs to get better, specifically in his mid-range game. On shots three to nine feet from the basket, Jamison is only shooting 33.3 percent. And Jamison's yet to attempt a field goal in the 10- to 15-foot range on the season.
Adding more versatility to his offensive game should only increase his productivity. If he can add that to the increased aggressiveness we've seen of late, Jamison should be on the right track to put his disappointing start to the season behind him.
Jodie Meeks hasn't been productive enough on offense to carve out a consistent role with the Lakers. After averaging 9.5 points in 26.5 minutes per game the last two seasons in Philadelphia, Meeks can barely get off the bench for Los Angeles. So far, he's only averaging 11.9 minutes per game and 4.8 points per game.
What's contributed to his diminished role and diminished scoring average? For Meeks, it's been his inability to find his shooting stroke. After shooting 38.3 percent from three-point range the past two seasons, Meeks' three-point percentage has dropped to 34.2 percent this year.
His three-point percentage by itself isn't too bad. What's more troubling is his overall field-goal percentage of 36.8 percent. That's well below his career average of 41 percent.
Meeks wasn't brought in to be a game-changer, and he likely wasn't going to match his 26.5 minutes per game from the last two years, largely because the Lakers are a deeper team. But his 11.9 minutes is a direct correlation to his lack of production when he does get on the court.
It may be a bit unfair to call Morris a disappointment, especially when you consider he's forced into a much larger role than he can handle due to other players' injuries. But what's been so disappointing about Morris isn't a lack of production, because that's somewhat expected. What's disappointing is his inability to protect the ball.
Through his first nine games, he had an assist-to-turnover ratio per game of 2.9-to-1.3. That's greater than a two-to-one clip, which is more than acceptable. So even though he was only averaging 2.9 assists per game, he also only averaged 1.3 turnovers per contest—that will get the job done.
Over his last three games, however, Morris' assists have gone down while his turnovers have skyrocketed. In those three games, he's averaging 1.7 assists and 3.7 turnovers per game. Instead of posting a desirable two-to-one assist-to-turnover ratio, Morris is now putting up greater than a one-to-two assist-to-turnover ratio.
The Lakers aren't asking much of Morris. Sure, what they are asking, at least in terms of playing time, is more than he's ready for at this stage of his career. But they're not expecting a ton of production of him. Mainly, he's just asked not to screw things up. Lately, however, that's what he's been doing.