LA Lakers Players Who Could Be Losing Playing Time in 2013-14

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LA Lakers Players Who Could Be Losing Playing Time in 2013-14
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Outside of Pau Gasol, no players' playing time is safe on the L.A. Lakers' roster this season. 

Even though Gasol didn't seem to fit into D'Antoni's system last season, he is the only big man on the roster with the skills to thrive in D'Antoni's system.

Chris Kaman stretching the floor.

While Chris Kaman has a decent mid-range jumper that could help space the court, Gasol has a mid-range game that is just as good, while also being more proficient at almost every other aspect of basketball.

That's not the say that the two can't thrive together; this just means that Gasol's minutes won't be in question. 

An influx of young talent and the chance for Mike D'Antoni to run a full training camp means that the players who fit in with the system will garner more minutes while the players that don't will be riding pine more often than not. 

D'Antoni's system emphasizes an up-tempo, high-octane pace that requires athletes and shooters. Three-point shooting is meant to stretch the floor so that the pick-and-roll can be emphasized in the half-court offense. 

Alongside not fitting into the system, factors such as depth, age and injury-prevention could come into play for some players who fans should expect to see on the pine more than usual. 

Kobe Bryant

Having just turned 35 years old, the Black Mamba has a lot of mileage on his legs. Couple that with his current sojourn back to full health after an Achilles tendon injury, and you have a player that is definitely looking at some restricted minutes.

Kobe Bryant's season-ending Achilles tendon injury.

Like Michael Jordan before him, Bryant has relied more on his post game and his jumper as his athleticism slowly diminishes. Recovering from a severe Achilles tendon injury means that Bryant will have to rely more on his skills and less on his ability to jump over his defender.

Although Bryant will definitely still see well over 30 minutes of playing time per game, do not expect him to play anywhere near the 38.6 minutes per game he logged last season. Those minutes were two minutes above his career averages. 

Anywhere from 30 to 34 minutes per game is more than reasonable for a player who is still expected to carry the scoring load despite returning from a season-ending injury. 

Despite D'Antoni's belief that the insane amount of minutes Bryant was playing was not a factor in his injury, he needs to keep a firm minutes cap on Bryant to preserve him for key stretches of the season and the playoffs if they make it. 

Steve Nash

Simply put, Nash's body has been failing him for years.

Mitch Kupchak still seems to have faith in Nash's health, if not his durability. In order to keep Nash healthy and durable, his minutes per game should not eclipse the 30-minute mark.

Age does not degrade basketball IQ, and very few players have the basketball intellect that Nash possesses. Despite his defensive deficiencies, the Lakers are going to need a productive and efficient Nash in order to run their offense successfully. 

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Steve Nash using his basketball IQ from the bench.

This means that Nash not only has to limit his minutes, he has to perform well in those limited minutes.

The Lakers aren't asking for the double-double machine Nash once was in Phoenix. All they need from Nash is to hit his open shots or hit the open man. His ability to run the floor and make good choices in transition will be key for D'Antoni to establish his system. 

If Jordan Farmar is able to improve and run the offense effectively as a sixth man, expect Nash to play less than 30 minutes per game.

Jodie Meeks

With a bevvy of guards on the roster, Jodie Meeks may see a drop in playing time this season. 

While his 21.3 minutes per game last season were decent given the fact that he had to play behind Kobe Bryant, he has a lot more competition this season.

Competing against Nick Young, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar for playing time at either guard positions, Meeks has a major disadvantage due to the fact that he isn't as versatile as any of the other guards.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Jodie Meeks launching a contested jumper.

Despite his proven defensive skills, Meeks doesn't have much of an offensive game outside of his outside shooting.

Both Blake and Farmar can run the offense as point guards and should see a lot of minutes replacing Nash and playing alongside Bryant.

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Young could usurp even more time because he is a proven scorer who is more versatile and athletic than Meeks

A dark horse for some minutes at the guard positions is Xavier Henry, a player whose NBA career thus far has been rather unspectacular. 

Henry wouldn't take up major minutes. However, he definitely continues to clog up a backcourt that has a bevvy of players vying for playing time behind Bryant and Nash. 

Meeks' defense could keep him competitive for minutes, but D'Antoni's lack of emphasis on the defensive end might mean that Meeks' full potential will be mitigated this season. 

 

 

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