Los Angeles Lakers: Projecting Full Season Stats for Each Player
Dwight Howard left in free agency to join the Houston Rockets, Kobe Bryant is recuperating from a torn Achilles he suffered in April and the Lakers are now relying on a pu pu platter of free agents that includes Nick Young, Wesley Johnson, Xavier Henry and Jordan Farmar.
Needless to say, Mike D’Antoni will have to find contributions from every spot on the roster if the Lakers are going to make the playoffs in 2014. That’s especially evident with Bryant sidelined.
Can this collection of young players, aging veterans and NBA journeymen join together into a cohesive unit? Can they put up the stats necessary to win games?
We’ll have to wait and see.
Note: Players are listed in the projected order of the playing rotation.
13-15. Robert Sacre, Ryan Kelly, Elias Harris
The chances that any of these three players receive consistent minutes for the Los Angeles Lakers are slim to none. As a result, their projected stats are essentially meaningless, but here they are regardless, provided they get to play.
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 1.3 points, 1.1 rebounds, 0.2 assists, 0.0 steals, 0.3 blocks
2013-14 Projected Per-Game Stats: 1.4 points, 1.2 rebounds, 0.1 assists, 0.1 steals, 0.3 blocks
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: N/A
2013-14 Projected Per-Game Stats: 2.1 points, 1.9 rebounds, 0.2 assists, 0.1 steals, 0.1 blocks
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: N/A
2013-14 Projected Per-Game Stats: 1.1 points, 0.8 rebounds, 0.1 assists, 0.1 steals, 0.1 blocks
12. Jodie Meeks, SG
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 7.9 points, 2.2 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.1 blocks
2013-14 Projected Per-Game Stats: 4.3 points, 1.8 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.1 blocks
Jodie Meeks may become a victim of circumstance this season.
He was vastly mediocre last season, shooting just 38.7 percent from the field and 35.7 percent from three-point range. Additionally, for a hyped defender, he didn’t make a difference on that end of the court for the Lakers last season.
Now, with Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar, Kobe Bryant, Nick Young, Wesley Johnson and Xavier Henry clogging the backcourt, Meeks may be the odd man out simply based on his poor performance a season ago.
If he doesn’t provide a jolt on offense (something this Lakers team sorely needs with Bryant sidelined), don’t expect Meeks to see many minutes.
11. Xavier Henry, SG
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 3.9 points, 1.8 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.1 blocks
2013-14 Projected Per-Game Stats: 7.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.1 blocks
Although Xavier Henry has been an irrelevant player in the NBA through three seasons, he showed flashes of brilliance during the preseason for the Los Angeles Lakers.
In the Lakers first preseason game against the Golden State Warriors, Henry scored 29 points on 9-of-15 shooting to go with seven rebounds.
He never matched that outburst after the fact, but he raised eyebrows by that performance.
Although the Lakers backcourt has plenty of competition this season, I wouldn’t be surprised if Henry experienced a mini-breakout for L.A.
Veterans like Jordan Farmar and Steve Blake are likely to get seniority, but Henry will steal their minutes if he performs like he did throughout the preseason.
Again, Henry is still just 22 years old. There’s a chance that he’s just a late bloomer who had a hard time getting his feet wet in the NBA. He's a dark horse candidate to take over Kobe Bryant's spot in his absence.
10. Jordan Farmar, PG/SG
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: N/A
2013-14 Projected Per-Game Stats: 6.1 points, 1.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.1 blocks
While Jordan Farmar was primarily brought in as a safety net behind Steve Nash and Steve Blake, we can be sure that he’ll get minutes when (not if) those two guys get hurt.
Farmar played the 2012-13 season overseas in Turkey for Anadolu Efes. He put up solid stats in Europe, but his role will be diminished now that he’s back in the NBA.
Essentially, Lakers fans should expect exactly what they got from Farmar the last time he suited up for them (in 2009-10). He’ll shoot threes, score points off the bench and…well that’s about it.
9. Wesley Johnson, SG/SF
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 8.0 points, 2.5 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.4 blocks
2013-14 Projected Per-Game Stats: 5.4 points, 2.4 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.5 blocks
As a Phoenix Suns fan, I can tell every Los Angeles Lakers fan with confidence that Wesley Johnson is a shooting guard who can’t shoot.
In his NBA career (three seasons), he’s shooting just 40 percent from the field. The 40.7 percent shooting clip he notched for the Suns last season was a career high.
Again, the best Johnson has ever done in his career from a shooting standpoint is well below average for NBA players.
The former fourth overall pick will likely be part of the Lakers playing rotation, but I don’t imagine he’ll see much court time once Kobe Bryant returns.
Mike D’Antoni is notorious for keeping his playing rotation limited to seven or eight players. Johnson will likely continue to struggle shooting the ball. If he does, he simply doesn’t provide enough in terms of rebounding, distributing and defense to justify a spot in the rotation.
8. Shawne Williams, SF/PF
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: N/A
2013-14 Projected Per-Game Stats: 6.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.5 blocks
Like Jordan Farmar, Shawne Williams hasn’t played in the NBA since 2011-12 for the New Jersey Nets (now the Brooklyn Nets). He played overseas in China last year, and is now back in the NBA and looking to make a difference for the Los Angeles Lakers.
In five NBA seasons, however, Williams has never averaged more than 7.1 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. He’s a career 40.7 percent field goal shooter, and although he shot 40.1 percent from three-point range in 2010-11 for the New York Knicks, he’s not a consistent sharpshooter from deep.
It seems as if Williams will get plenty of minutes early in the season. With limited frontcourt options, it appears as if Mike D’Antoni will play the NBA journeyman at power forward. He’ll reportedly start the season opener in place of Chris Kaman, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN via Twitter.
If Kaman or Pau Gasol misses extended time throughout the season, expect Williams to start in their place.
7. Jordan Hill, PF/C
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 6.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.7 blocks
2013-14 Projected Per-Game Stats: 6.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.8 blocks
I had the opportunity to watch Jordan Hill play while in college at the University of Arizona. When he’s healthy, he can be a difference-maker on both ends. He can score with nice touch around the basket, grab rebounds and block shots.
Unfortunately, his game hasn’t translated well to the NBA atmosphere, mostly due to team fit.
Hill was drafted eighth overall in 2009 by the New York Knicks, but struggled to earn playing time as a rookie. He was buried on the Knicks bench by…wait for it…head coach Mike D’Antoni.
Hill was traded to the Houston Rockets as a rookie because he didn’t fit in any of D’Antoni’s schemes.
Could the same narrative play out this season? We’ll have to wait and see, but with the lack of frontcourt depth, D’Antoni may have no choice but to give the big man minutes.
6. Steve Blake, PG
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 7.3 points, 2.9 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.1 blocks
2013-14 Projected Per-Game Stats: 6.8 points, 2.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.1 blocks
If healthy, Steve Blake will continue to be the primary backup behind the injury risk that is Steve Nash.
After struggling throughout the lockout-shortened year, when he shot just 33.5 percent from three-point range, Blake upped his efficiency from distance to 42.1 percent during the 2012-13 campaign.
His shooting stroke from beyond the arc rivaled other sharpshooters around the league, but like Nash, Blake couldn’t stay on the court.
The 33-year-old point guard played just 45 of a possible 82 games, which crippled the Lakers backcourt. The absence of Blake and Nash forced Darius Morris into a starting role, which was a disaster.
Now the Lakers have a familiar safety net in Jordan Farmar. If Blake struggles or gets hurt, he could easily lose minutes to the former UCLA standout.
5. Chris Kaman, C
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 10.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.8 blocks
2013-14 Projected Per-Game Stats: 11.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.2 blocks
Health continues to be an issue for Chris Kaman. He hasn’t played a full season since his rookie year (2003-04) and has missed a total of 85 games over the past three seasons.
He made the All-Star team in 2010 as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers, but it’s fair to say his best days are behind him.
Kaman should receive more than the 20.7 minutes per game he notched last season with the Dallas Mavericks, but I’d be surprised if he eclipses 30 minutes per game this season, even with the Lakers' shallow frontcourt depth.
As is the case with another frontcourt starter (stay tuned), Kaman will improve statistically by grabbing more rebounds and blocking more shots.
The question continues to be whether or not he can stay injury-free throughout the season.
4. Pau Gasol, PF/C
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 13.7 points, 8.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.2 blocks
2013-14 Projected Per-Game Stats: 16.2 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.8 blocks
Pau Gasol has become an enigma.
The four-time NBA All-Star averaged a career-low 13.7 points per game last season to accompany a career-low shooting percentage of 46.6 percent.
He wasn’t comfortable in Mike D’Antoni’s system, nor playing beside Dwight Howard, and it showed. At times, Gasol looked genuinely overwhelmed on the court, which is not what we normally see from the two-time NBA champion.
I’m not projecting a "resurgent" year for Gasol, but there’s no way he can be as ineffective as he was last season. He’ll grab more rebounds now that D12 is gone, and he’ll score more points if he can build chemistry with Steve Nash early in the season.
Gasol likely won’t average more than four assists per game again now that he can’t throw alley-oop lobs to Howard. However, the Spaniard has an opportunity to make an impact on the defensive end.
Obviously Gasol isn’t the best defensive player out there, but I’m projecting his highest total of blocked shots since his days with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Why? Well, Gasol will have to protect the rim behind perimeter defenders like Nash, Steve Blake, Nick Young, Wesley Johnson and a potentially hobbled Kobe Bryant. With the potential for matador defense on the perimeter, Gasol will have plenty of opportunities to thwart drives to the basket.
3. Nick Young, SG/SF
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 10.6 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.2 blocks
2013-14 Projected Per-Game Stats: 16.8 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.2 blocks
Nick Young has spent the past two seasons in a prolonged slump.
In his first four professional seasons, he shot a combined 43.6 percent from the field and 38.4 percent from three-point range. In his last two seasons he’s shot 40.8 percent from the field and 36.1 percent from deep.
Young’s numbers should see a boost as he returns to starter minutes with the Los Angeles Lakers. Although he projects to be playing out of position at small forward, his scoring ability shouldn’t be affected.
“Swaggy P” averaged 16.6 points per game in 40 games (32 starts) for the Washington Wizards two seasons ago. In 64 games (40 starts) for the Wiz in 2010-11, Young averaged 17.4 points per game.
While he won’t give your team much else in the box score, Young can score. He should have added motivation as he’s set to play for his hometown team, but there are a lot of wing players competing for minutes.
2. Kobe Bryant, SG
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 27.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.3 blocks
2013-14 Projected Per-Game Stats: 22.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.2 blocks
Even though I’m skeptical that a 35-year-old Kobe Bryant will be able to return to full strength following an Achilles tear, I also know it’s not wise to doubt the Black Mamba’s abilities on the basketball court.
If only because head coach Mike D’Antoni will monitor Bryant’s minutes upon his return, we’ll assuredly see a statistical dip from him this season.
You may recall that the 34-year-old Bryant was raising eyebrows for his level of play in the early stages of 2012-13. In the month of December, Bryant averaged 33.8 points per game on 46.6 percent shooting.
Not only was he scoring in bunches like always, but he was also displaying a level of efficiency we had never seen from him before. Given his age and the miles he had clocked on the odometer, Bryant had arguably his best season ever last year.
Can he really continue to beat Father Time this way?
The projections for 2013-14 are mostly rooted in a respect for his talent. Bryant could conceivably dip below 20 points per game if he no longer has the same athleticism.
1. Steve Nash, PG
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 12.7 points, 2.8 rebounds, 6.7 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.1 blocks
2013-14 Projected Per-Game Stats: 13.2 points, 3.0 rebounds, 7.9 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.1 blocks
Even though Steve Nash experienced a disappointing first season with the Los Angeles Lakers, he still managed to come within 0.3 percentage points from another 50-40-90 season. He shot 49.7 percent from the field, 43.8 percent from three-point range and 92.2 percent from the free-throw line.
In his first season away from the Phoenix Suns’ brilliant training staff, the veteran point guard missed 32 games due to injury. He had missed just 37 games total for the Suns in eight seasons from 2004-05 through 2011-12.
Age has certainly began to catch up to the 39-year-old, but I expect improvements this year despite the fact that Nash will turn 40 in February.
Nash recorded just 6.7 assists per game last season, which was his lowest average since 1999-00 with the Dallas Mavericks. The lower assist totals were the result of playing in a different system and playing beside Kobe Bryant (who is the ball dominator within the offense).
With Bryant set to miss time, expect Nash to orchestrate the offense and rack up assists early in the season. We won’t see a huge improvement if Bryant returns to full strength, but Nash should thrive in an offense that isn’t leaning on isolation plays from the Mamba.
The two-time MVP will make improvements statistically if he stays relatively healthy, but he definitely won’t return to MVP form.