Pau Gasol and Steve Nash
The 2013-14 campaign is approaching and it is a great time to preview the Los Angeles Lakers’ season with a player power rankings.
The Lakers will be rated based on their projected statistical output. Past performances will be used to determine how the players will fare, and the 2013-14 preseason will help draw conclusions as well.
We will rank the first 10 players from worst to best and then look at the remaining athletes on the roster—those on guaranteed contracts or non-guaranteed deals. This should give a clear indication of the team hierarchy and also give us a feel for those who will be on the opening night roster.
Projected stats: 7 MPG, 4 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 0.5 APG
Xavier Henry is possibly the most interesting bench player on the Lakers. He has been an average bench guy at best during his career, but he has looked somewhat different with the Purple and Gold.
Henry has been very aggressive during the preseason in looking for his own shot and is also connecting with great regularity on his three-pointers when compared to his career numbers. It’s tricky because the improved long-distance stroke might simply be a mirage as opposed to a new development.
Mind you, if Henry keeps asserting himself and making it rain from downtown, he will climb these rankings and overtake the spot of established rotation players.
Projected stats: 3 MPG, 1.5 PPG, 0.8 RPG, 0 APG
Ryan Kelly is an intriguing prospect because at 6’11’’, he can step out on the perimeter and make shots from downtown. He converted 42.2 percent of his three-pointers in his final college season with the Duke Blue Devils and given his shooting proficiency, the coaching staff might opt to use him on a few rare occasions at the end of quarters to space the floor.
Kelly has been dealing with some issues because of foot surgery and thus his health might stand in the way of him making any meaningful contribution should he make the team.
Projected stats: 0.5 MPG, 0 PPG, 0 RPG, 0 APG
Elias Harris is not a particularly good ball-handler or shooter which is problematic for someone hoping to play for Mike D’Antoni. His shortcomings on these fronts make it unlikely for Harris to make the opening-night roster.
Projected stats: 5 MPG, 3 PPG, 2 RPG, 0.2 APG
Robert Sacre is the Lakers’ emergency reserve big man. He will see some time on the court in the event the team faces injuries or foul trouble. Also, he will get some burn in blowouts, but that is about it.
Sacre plays with a lot of energy and hustle, but he is a limited offensive player and the same can be said about his defense.
Projected stats: 3 MPG, 1 PPG, 1 RPG, 0.3 APG
Wesley Johnson is a decent defender and might get a bit of court time because of that. On offense though, he cannot create his own shot and struggles to convert field goals even when open.
That will make it difficult for him to see any type of consistent minutes in 2013-14. Also, he has been dealing with a foot injury during the preseason which has prevented him from appearing in games.
Projected stats: 8 MPG, 3 PPG, 1 RPG, 0.5 APG
Jodie Meeks is a long-range specialist that does little else on the hardwood. He has value as a floor spacer but that alone will not justify giving him a steady diet of minutes when compared to the other players on the roster.
He will get some time on the court during Kobe Bryant’s absence, but once the Lakers’ all-time leading scorer returns, Meeks will more than likely be the odd man out.
Still, Mike D’Antoni will throw him out there, probably alongside Jordan Hill, to ensure the floor has some semblance of balance in terms of shooting and rugged interior play.
Projected stats: 16 MPG, 6 PPG, 3 RPG, 0.6 APG
Shawne Williams has decent size and plays both forward spots, which is a plus in Mike D’Antoni’s offense. He is somewhat limited as a player but is a fit with the Lakers.
Williams has three-point range and does a decent enough job of defending interior players to earn minutes both as a perimeter and interior player.
There are other players on the team that are a little more talented, but Williams brings the right combination of skills to warrant steady minutes from the coaching staff.
Keep in mind, with Kobe Bryant on the mend, the Lakers will need people occupying minutes at small forward and Williams is one of those candidates.
Projected stats: 15 MPG, 5 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 2 APG
Steve Blake is a good ball-handler but not a good shot creator. Thus, he is better suited in a reserve role where he can run the offense and make open three-point shots.
He is a serviceable defensive player that will fight against bigger players that attempt to post him up. As the third point guard on the team, one would expect his minutes to be almost non-existent unless injuries were to arise, but the coaching staff will probably use him some at shooting guard.
Indeed, his abilities to handle the ball and convert long-range shots make him a terrific second-unit option for a Lakers team that puts a premium on spacing.
Projected stats: 17.5 MPG, 6.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 0.5 APG
Jordan Hill is a solid rebounder and a player that hustles all over the court to help out his team. He averages double digits in points and rebounds per 36 minutes over his career simply by outworking opposing second units.
Mind you, he is a somewhat limited offensive player who barely has any semblance of low-post game. He is nonetheless a good productive backup player capable of spelling the starters on a nightly basis.
Projected stats: 17 MPG, 6 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 3 APG
Jordan Farmar is a good pick-and-roll player which will give him the slightest of edges against other backup point guards on the roster.
He does a good job of turning the corner which will be an important asset in Mike D’Antoni’s spread pick-and-roll offense. Farmar will get into the paint and force defenses to either collapse on him or surrender a look at the basket.
Either way, the former UCLA Bruin will be effective as a member of the second unit.
Projected stats: 26 MPG, 12 PPG, 6 RPG, 0.5 APG
Chris Kaman will probably spend a few minutes per game playing next to Pau Gasol which will allow him to get a few easy looks at the rim. The Spaniard is a gifted passer that has developed good chemistry with the former Dallas Maverick.
Kaman will not get starter's minutes given that his defense is porous and he struggles to protect the rim. He can be a bit turnover-prone as well as a black hole of sorts.
The former Los Angeles Clipper will get his shots up and give a few teams trouble, but his limitations will prevent him from getting big minutes unless foul trouble or injuries occur.
Projected stats: 36 MPG, 16 PPG, 3 RPG, 2 APG
If the preseason is any indication, the Nick Young era has begun in Los Angeles. Young will get his share of shots up and put points on the board for the Purple and Gold.
His exuberance will result in a variety of clunkers but will also lead to many high-scoring nights. Young could be ranked higher, but he has never been an efficient scorer and that holds him back on some level.
Shooting and scoring are his best skills. Given that he does not always accomplish these with great regularity, it would be difficult to place him above the previously named players even if he does end up playing a career-high 36 minutes per game.
Steve Nash of the LA Lakers
Projected stats: 30 MPG, 13 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 8 APG
It seems all but obvious that Kobe Bryant will miss some time during the regular season and the end result will be an offense directed by Steve Nash.
Nash’s minutes will take a slight dip in 2013-14 and that will affect his production. Nonetheless, the team will be his to run until Bryant returns. Nash will produce like an All-Star point guard, especially when his numbers are projected over 36 minutes.
Still, his combination of ball-handling and shooting will make him look like the player that guided the Phoenix Suns to an elite offense under the tutelage of Mike D’Antoni.
Projected stats: 37 MPG, 16.5 PPG, 9 RPG, 4 APG
Pau Gasol will enter the 2013-14 season as a key cog to the Lakers offense and that will allow him to once again regain his All-Star form. He spent far too much time in 2012-13 playing out of position and out of his comfort zone, which resulted in a nightmarish year.
This time around, the coaching staff will rely on his low-post game as well as his passing to dissect defenses. His shot attempts will take a slight uptick and his scoring efficiency will improve now that he is no longer camped out at the three-point line.
The statistical production may not look like much, but it is a solid output for a player on a team with multiple scoring options. The two-time champion will reclaim his status as the second best player on the team.
Projected stats: 33 MPG, 23 PPG, 4 RPG, 4 APG
Kobe Bryant is recovering from Achilles surgery and thus his return date is uncertain. However, after looking at the careers of players affected by this specific injury, it certainly appears as though the five-time champion will adjust to his physical ailments and play at a high level.
Granted, given Bryant's age, it stands to reason that Mike D’Antoni will cut back his minutes in an effort to limit his workload after he averaged 38.6 minutes per game during the 2012-13 campaign.
Bryant has been the Lakers’ best player for the past decade and it’s tough to expect otherwise despite his Achilles rupture.