Through two weeks of the 2013-14 NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers have accumulated a 3-5 record. Steve Blake and Jodie Meeks have provided a spark in the absence of Kobe Bryant, but Lakers players have acquired some vastly mediocre report card grades through two weeks.
Has anyone on the Lakers roster performed well enough to earn an “A” grade, though? Having the league’s 27th-ranked defense in terms of opponent points per game (105.6) won’t help their case.
Note: All stats in this article are accurate through seven games of the 2013-14 NBA season. The Lakers’ matchup with the Minnesota Timberwolves will not be factored into the 2013-14 per-game statistics, and only players who have appeared in at least five games will be graded.
Also, players will be listed in ascending order based on minutes per game.
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 3.2 points, 3.0 rebounds, 0.0 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.6 blocks
Shawne Williams has experienced a rather bizarre start to the 2013-14 season. He started the Lakers’ first five games, but he only notched 13.6 minutes per game in those five. He did not start in Sunday night’s matchup with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Even in a starting role, Williams didn’t receive enough minutes to make much of an impact.
The 27-year-old has struggled from the field (35.3 percent), three-point range (30 percent) and from the free-throw line (50 percent). He also hasn’t dished out a single assist in five games.
There are much better options on the Lakers roster compared to Williams (namely Chris Kaman and Jordan Hill). Don’t be surprised if Williams continues to lose minutes after his early-season struggles.
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 6.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.9 blocks
Jordan Hill started his NBA career with the New York Knicks under head coach Mike D’Antoni. He had trouble cracking the rotation in D’Antoni’s system and was promptly traded to the Houston Rockets as a result.
D’Antoni hasn’t buried Hill on the bench this year, but he hasn’t given him significant minutes either (just 15.7 per game). Nevertheless, Hill has been extremely efficient in limited time.
Not only is Hill averaging 6.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, but he’s also posted a gaudy 22.1 player efficiency rating through seven games. That PER ranks Hill 28th in the entire NBA.
At this juncture, the only negative in Hill’s game has been efficiency from the free-throw line. He’s shooting just 35.7 percent from the charity stripe.
The former University of Arizona Wildcat hasn’t played a huge role on this Lakers team from a minutes-per-game standpoint, but he’s certainly taken advantage of the court time he’s been given.
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 9.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.4 steals, 1.1 blocks
Chris Kaman suffered a setback in October when he injured his finger tobogganing at the Great Wall of China. He also entered the new season nursing a stomach virus. As a result, he’s come off the bench in five of his first seven games.
Despite the fact that the Lakers’ new center was limited to playing just 18 minutes per game through his first seven appearances, he’s been nearly as efficient as Jordan Hill in reduced court time.
Kaman has posted 9.6 points, six rebounds and a PER of 19.3. He’s still easing his way back into a starting role, but he’s been offensively sound to start the year.
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 10.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.0 blocks
After playing the 2012-13 season overseas in Turkey, Jordan Farmar’s return to the NBA has been impressive thus far.
The veteran guard is the only player on the Lakers averaging at least 10 points, three rebounds and four assists per game. He’s attacking the basket, playing with confidence (sometimes irrational confidence) and filling the box score in a variety of categories.
His presence has been a welcome addition after last season’s point guard debacle. Steve Nash isn’t the player he once was, and backup Steve Blake suffered injuries of his own. Farmer’s presence this year with the absence of Kobe Bryant has really helped the Lakers keep their heads above water.
Granted, his 40.9 percent shooting from the field and 33.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc haven’t been efficient. However, his grit has helped a great deal.
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 11.9 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.3 blocks
Nick Young has failed to find his shooting stroke through two weeks of the season. He’s shooting 42.9 percent from the field and just 30 percent from three-point range, which is the lowest on the team among players who have attempted at least one three-pointer.
Young has proven himself as one of the streakiest outside shooters in the game, so perhaps this is just a meaningless early-season slump. With that said, his aim from downtown has been completely off the mark.
Because Young doesn’t bring much to the defensive end of the court, he’s truly a liability when his shot isn’t falling.
He has plenty of time to turn his season around, but the start of his stint with the Lakers hasn’t impressed.
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 10.1 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.3 blocks
Xavier Henry burst onto the NBA scene this season with the Lakers.
That sample size, however, has proven to be far too small.
In the other five games so far, Henry has scored just 19 points combined. That included an 0-of-6 shooting performance against the San Antonio Spurs and a 1-of-8 shooting night against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The 22-year-old guard enjoyed some nice performances, but he’s come back down to earth in a big way.
When Henry plays well, the Lakers are a surprisingly difficult team to beat. He just hasn’t shown much consistency.
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 8.7 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.8 steals, 1.6 blocks
Wesley Johnson has played a prominent role on this Lakers team to start the season, but his shooting and defense have continued to be mediocre.
The young guard/forward is shooting a woeful 34.3 percent from the field. He’s also racking up 3.7 fouls per game (tops on the team) in just 23.6 minutes per game. Playing solid defense without fouling has to be a point of emphasis for Johnson moving forward if he hopes to keep his court time.
On the bright side, Johnson is shooting 37.9 percent from downtown. That’s the highest percentage from beyond the arc he’s notched in his career.
As long as he keeps knocking down threes, he’ll be a valuable asset within the rotation.
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 7.6 points, 1.8 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.2 blocks
Age is finally catching up to Steve Nash.
The former two-time MVP has been a shell of himself this season and even had to leave the most recent matchup against the Minnesota Timberwolves due to injury, per Shahan Ahmed of NBC Los Angeles.
Nash’s nerve issue, which has caused problems in his hamstring and back, continues to hold the point guard back. He’s shooting a paltry 27.9 percent from the field with a player efficiency rating of just 8.2.
It’s difficult to grade Nash, considering that he’s been playing hurt. Despite the injury, he’s tried his best to be out there for his teammates. At this juncture, however, he’s doing more harm than good.
It may be in the team's best interest to rest Nash and get him healthy.
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 12.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.0 blocks
Jodie Meeks struggled last season, but through the first seven games of 2013-14, he’s leading the Lakers in scoring. That’s something nobody could have predicted prior to the year.
He’s doing so by averaging just 12.3 points per game, but that’s still helped ease the absence of Kobe Bryant.
The 26-year-old is shooting 49.2 percent from the field and a scorching hot 48.4 percent from beyond the three-point arc (best on the team). Meeks has made a complete 180 compared to last season when he shot 38.7 percent from the field and 35.7 percent from deep.
His numbers likely won’t remain this stellar throughout the season as opponents start game-planning to stop him. However, the Lakers can ride his hot hand until he cools off.
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 12.0 points, 10.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.0 steals, 0.7 blocks
With a certain former Laker playing for the Houston Rockets, Pau Gasol needed to shoulder the load on the interior as he’s done so many times in the past.
Unfortunately, the Spaniard’s struggles have carried over into the 2013-14 campaign.
Averaging double-digit rebounds is a good sign, but Gasol is shooting a measly 35.2 percent from the field. That’s totally unacceptable for a 7-footer.
Ironically, Gasol is shooting 42.9 percent from three-point range. He’s been far more efficient shooting from three than he has been inside the arc.
Gasol simply hasn’t found his niche in Mike D’Antoni’s offense. That needs to happen soon if the Lakers hope to stay competitive without Kobe Bryant.
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 8.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.0 blocks
While it’s baffling to see Jodie Meeks leading the Lakers in scoring, it’s equally absurd to see Steve Blake leading the team in minutes with 30.9 per game.
He’s started every game in the backcourt and has done a variety of things well. The high point of Blake’s season came against the Houston Rockets, when he drained the game-winning three-pointer. Of course, his clutch shot shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, because he’s shooting 44.4 percent from deep through seven games.
In addition to the great outside shooting, Blake has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.2. In other words, he’s dishing out 3.2 assists for every turnover, which is solid for a guy who usually fills a backup point guard role.
Along with Jodie Meeks and a few performances from Xavier Henry, Blake has helped the Lakers remain competitive early in the season. It will be interesting, however, to see if he can stay healthy playing this many minutes.