Biggest Standouts of LA Lakers' Preseason So Far
While the incumbent starters have obviously been on a minutes cap, the more evenly distributed minutes have allowed the Lakers to really tinker with their lineups.
The Lakers have had their fair share of surprising performances during the preseason. Players who were on the edge of the rotation may have earned themselves some tangible amounts of playing time once the regular season rolls around.
Nick Young has been an offensive force during the preseason.
Failing to score more than 10 points only once during the first four games, Young has brought his fearless shooting to the Lakers in spades.
Hitting on 18 of his 48 shot attempts, Young may need to increase his efficiency if he wishes to really separate himself from Jodie Meeks as the primary backup for Kobe Bryant once he returns.
Despite shooting only 37.5 percent from the field, Young has showed his versatility by scoring from the perimeter, attacking the paint and finishing in transition.
The Lakers have been playing Young at the 3, and he may have played his way into becoming the incumbent starter at the small forward position. Standing 6'7", he has the height, length and quickness to play well against the smaller forwards in the league.
However, billed at only 210 pounds, he may have a hard time defending bigger forwards such as LeBron James.
Although Young has stood out on the offensive end of the floor, he needs to focus on rebounding the basketball better. While his assist totals may be understandably low due to his role as a scorer rather than a facilitator, Young has to learn to clean the glass if he is going to play as a forward.
Kaman has been a pleasant surprise for the Lakers.
Despite his injury-plagued season with the Dallas Mavericks last year, Kaman has come on strong and showed off every aspect of his game.
Averaging a little less than eight rebounds per game during the games he has played thus far, Kaman's presence on the boards will be very important for the Lakers defense if they intend to make up for the losses of Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace.
He has also been a consistent scorer, averaging 11.3 points per game during the preseason. These statistics have been accumulated while playing a little over 20 minutes per game.
Kaman has showed off his patented mid-range jumper as well as his ability to move without the ball and finish in the interior. He seems to be building a nice offensive rapport with Pau Gasol.
Expect Kaman's numbers to eclipse the 30-minute mark if he can stay healthy this season.
Perhaps the biggest standout on the roster is Gasol, who has come back strong from an injury-riddled season.
Looking like the former All-Star he once was, Gasol has been scoring, rebounding and passing the ball very well.
As the focal point of the offense, Gasol has averaged 13.3 points per game while scoring on pick-and-rolls, jumpers and post-ups. He has also averaged three assists per game, showing that his passing touch and high basketball IQ haven't atrophied like his knees did last season.
Along with the Black Mamba, Gasol will be the biggest key to the Lakers' success this season. Being the second-best offensive player—and perhaps the best rebounding presence—on the team, Gasol is essential to the Lakers' system on both ends of the court.
Possibly due to the minutes restriction placed upon him during the preseason, Gasol has been lithe and healthy during his time on the court.
While the defense is definitely expected to drop off without Superman and World Peace, Gasol can try to cancel out some of those losses if he and Kaman can develop a cohesion on both ends of the court.
They have already seemed to click on the offensive end of the court, and both players are very capable rebounders.
If Gasol and Kaman are able to play off of each other in a similar manner that Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph do, it will give Bryant a very capable second option on offense when the defenses are zoning in on him.
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