The Los Angeles Lakers definitely have room to improve after the first full month of the season. They finished with 8-6 in November, and it is even more impressive considering what the Lakers had to go through.
Starting point guard Steve Nash was sidelined for the entire month, and Mike Brown was fired early on. It wasn't an easy month, but the Lakers managed to finish above .500.
While we know it's a team game, a few players tend to stand above the others. Let's see who was key for the Lakers in November.
Some players really should not be part of the main ranking.
Earl Clarke, Robert Sacre, Darius Johnson-Odom and Devin Ebanks played very little this month and they hold the bottom four spots in this list.
Odom, Clarke and Ebanks played in only four games, and Sacre, while playing in seven, played less than four minutes a game.
Now, moving on to the main part of the countdown.
While Steve Blake could have been a member of "The Other Guys," I decided his role deserved an individual note. He started the first five games of the month for LA before being sidelined with an injury.
His production made one thing extremely clear—the Lakers need Steve Nash. There was no question about this beforehand, but Blake's time in the starting rotation really drove the point home.
As a shooter off the bench, he is effective, but that is all he should ever be for any team. His defense is terrible, and his level of play has dropped considerably over the past few years.
Good role player, but not a starter.
Chris Duhon has been a key player off the bench for the Lakers for most of the month. Considering the lack of talent LA has at point guard, every guard they play becomes a key factor.
Duhon hasn't really made much of an impact on either end, and he is not someone you want to see on the court too much.
His defense is pretty bad, and his offensive game is almost nonexistent. It's hard for me to criticize any of the point guards on the Lakers because all of them are playing way more than they should be.
They are not players who should have as many minutes as they do. However, Duhon is a veteran player and should be playing considerably better than he is.
Yet another Laker guard who needs to make serious adjustments to his game. One important one for Meeks would be to pass up some of his questionable shot selections.
Another would be to play with more energy on both ends of the court, and understand his role within the team.
It should be pretty clear by this point that their biggest problem for the Lakers is in regards to their guards. Not all of their guards of course (one guy is actually playing pretty well), but the majority are losing the Lakers games.
As of now, Meeks is part of the last category.
I will go easy on Darius Morris because he was never supposed to be the starting point guard. In fact, I would argue he was never meant to be a second-string player.
The fact that he has been able to step up and play at least average is impressive. He has not been good by any means, but he has not been terrible.
He clearly has a very limited floor vision and lacks any consistent type of scoring ability, but we all knew that before the season even started.
I will give him credit for stepping in and managing to keep calm in the face of all the pressure in LA to win.
I will also repeat the point I made when talking about Steve Blake—the Lakers really need Steve Nash back.
Antawn Jamison was brought in to give the Lakers' bench a spark, but it has been a mixed bag in the first month of the season.
In 19 minutes of action, he has averaged eight points and five rebounds game. While there is always room to improve, he seems to have adapted to his new role quite well.
His numbers have been solid, and as he gets more accustomed to the system, they can only improve. The bench is still a concern for the Lakers, but Jamison has really elevated the second unit's level of play.
Jordan Hill only played 15 minutes a game in November, but was very solid while on the floor. He grabbed boards, protected the rim and stayed very efficient.
Hill understands his role. His job is to give Dwight Howard or Pau Gasol a rest, and make sure the team does not miss a beat during that period of time.
He has done just that, and the Lakers don't have to worry too much when one of their big men takes a seat.
Hill was projected to a starter before the season started due to the back injury of Dwight Howard. I think that if that occurred, he would have stepped up and played very well during Howard's absence.
It's been a very up-and-down month for Gasol. His averages of 11 points and nine rebounds a game are pretty ugly when compared to his 19-9 career averages.
He has not played up to expectations on either side of the court, and has gotten himself involved in a multitude of trade rumors.
Once Steve Nash returns and plays under D'Antoni, his numbers ideally should go up. Nothing is certain, of course, and this could just end up being a bad year for the power forward.
Dwight Howard has obviously taken many of his offensive touches again, and Gasol has not really done anything to earn his share.
Hopefully for fans and Gasol, he will bounce back and have another All-Star season in LA. Until then, he is the fourth most important player on the Lakers.
Metta World Peace has managed to make himself a much bigger part of the offense this season, averaging 14 points a game in November.
His defense has also been pretty good generally, though he could definitely gain some consistency. Metta's three-point shooting has been a very solid 38 percent, and he is no longer a burden on the Lakers.
Last year, fans wanted him replaced, but this year he has been very important for the Lakers. His shooting should especially be a positive sign because it has all come without Nash.
Nash tends to elevate everyone's shooting ability, and he should be expected to do no different with Metta. Overall, very good month for World Peace.
Dwight Howard is back and playing just as good as he did back in Orlando. It took a few weeks, but he has finally settled into his new home.
His 18-11 averages should be looking just fine to fans considering he is coming off of a big injury, onto a new team and playing in a foreign system.
Defensively, three blocks a game in November are expected and he has really made the Lakers a lot more respected on that end of the floor.
There are still some issues—most of them on offense—but they should be getting straightened out when Nash comes back.
I know I keep pointing to the absence of Nash, but it really is key. With D'Antoni there, Nash becomes the most important player on the court.
It should be interesting to see where Dwight's numbers go once the starting lineup is back to normal.
Shouldn't be any surprise here; Kobe easily finishes as the best player on the Lakers for the month of November. In fact, it's highly unlikely he will concede the spot as the year goes on.
Kobe has been dominant, averaging 27 points a game, while being asked to handle the ball on most of the offensive trips.
He has also averaged just under six assists, proving that he does in fact know how to pass. His turnovers (4.1 a game) are a problem, but it is a direct factor of how much he is holding the ball.
His defense has been good as well, as the Lakers need him to pretty much do everything on most nights in order to get the win.
Ending November 8-6 is obviously not what the Lakers wanted to do, but they will live with it. There were bright spots and ugly moments, but no one should ever sleep on LA as long as Kobe is in charge.
Thank you for reading and please leave your thoughts in the comments below!