Final First-Half Player Power Rankings for LA Lakers
Losers of eight of their last nine games heading into Wednesday night's action, the Los Angeles Lakers are sliding down everyone's power rankings lately.
Looking at each player individually, though, it hasn't been all bad. Some guys are actually trending upwards over the Lakers' recent stretch of games.
Here, then, is the final installment of the Player Power Rankings for the Lakers for the first half of the season, with heavy emphasis placed on performance over L.A.'s last 10 contests.
*Note: Statistics accurate as of Jan. 7.
10. Chris Kaman
It's been a rough season for Chris Kaman.
The Lakers' most expensive offseason acquisition can't get on the court at all, leading him to voice his frustration in the media.
Kaman has been productive when he's been on the floor, averaging nearly 17 points and 12 rebounds per 36 minutes to go with over two blocks.
He's only appeared in five of L.A.'s last 10 tilts, but the two times he got extended minutes he put up lines of 19-10 and 10-17 with three blocks apiece.
You'd think that with the Lakers' lack of proven big men, aside from Pau Gasol, Kaman would have a significant role.
But that hasn't been the case at all, and it doesn't appear likely to change anytime soon.
9. Ryan Kelly
Rookie Ryan Kelly has cracked Mike D'Antoni's rotation recently, playing in nine of the Lakers' last 10 games and averaging slightly more than 15 minutes a night.
Kelly has done solid work as a floor-stretching big, notching an impressive 60 percent true shooting percentage over this run of games.
He hasn't contributed much else though. Kelly's defense has been subpar—though D'Antoni hasn't helped him out on that end by assigning him to cover quicker wing players in big lineups—and his rebound rate is absolutely abysmal for a 6'11" man.
Kelly should continue to see minutes as a stretch 4 now that Shawne Williams is out of the picture. Hopefully he can contribute more than Williams did in that role.
8. Xavier Henry
Xavier Henry is currently out of the lineup due to injury, which bumps him down to the No. 8 spot in these rankings.
Henry has played in six of L.A.'s last 10 games and is one of just four Lakers to average double figures in scoring over that stretch at 12 points per game.
Henry still hasn't found his shooting stroke with a 40/23/62 slash line in that span, but he does a great job of attacking the basket.
In fact, Henry's prolific free-throw rate (59.6) would have led the league last season among non big men.
If he could create more shots off of his penetration instead of always going up, he could get his teammates easy looks too.
7. Wesley Johnson
Wesley Johnson turned a lot of heads earlier in the season with his hot shooting and knack for getting steals and blocks.
That's gone away recently though as Johnson has struggled to make much of an impact on either end of the floor.
In L.A.'s past 10 games, he's averaging fewer than seven points a night despite playing 28 minutes per contest. During that span he has shot just 39 percent from the field and a brutal 26.5 percent from deep.
Johnson has averaged less than one steal and one block per game too.
Perhaps Johnson is just a streaky outside shooter. That would still be an upgrade over what he was in his first three seasons when he couldn't shoot accurately from beyond the arc at all.
As long as his defensive intensity keeps up and he uses his athleticism to make a couple great plays every game, he can be a valuable contributor moving forward.
6. Robert Sacre
So Robert Sacre is a legitimate NBA player.
The Gonzaga product has earned a place in the starting lineup for the last three games and has performed well, notching two double-digit rebound games and scoring 15 points in the other.
Sacre has proved to be a willing defender with good mobility who can clean up the defensive glass.
On offense he does a good job of playing in the pick-and-roll, finishing with nice touch around the basket.
While he's not a long-term solution as a starter, Sacre can give the Lakers some nice minutes as a backup big moving forward.
5. Jordan Hill
Jordan Hill still isn't getting big minutes despite looking great whenever he takes the floor.
Mike D'Antoni has played Hill fewer than 18 minutes on average over the past 10 games, electing to give the likes of Shawne Williams more burn.
Hill has big games when he gets the time. He had 18 points and 13 rebounds in 27 minutes against the Philadelphia 76ers last month.
For the season he's averaging nearly 17 points and 14 rebounds per 36 minutes, and his 21.3 PER ranks 22nd in the entire league.
Hopefully the waiving of Williams forces D'Antoni to get Hill onto the court more frequently.
4. Kendall Marshall
The newest Laker, Kendall Marshall, has only been with the team for seven games—but he's made a big enough impression to jump to No. 4 in these rankings.
Not known as a jump shooter, Marshall has found the mark more often than not so far, shooting better than 56.5 percent from the field and making half of his triples. His 69.9 percent true shooting percentage would lead the entire league if he had accrued enough playing time.
Marshall also just became the first Laker since Magic Johnson in 1991 to have back-to-back 15-assist games and is averaging better than 10 dimes per 36 minutes thus far with the Lakers.
He'll get big minutes as the starting point guard for the foreseeable future. It looks like L.A. has been able to get something out of yet another failed former lottery pick that the rest of the NBA had given up on.
3. Nick Young
Nick Young has been one of the hottest Lakers over the last month.
He leads the team in scoring over the last 10 games at 19.5 points a night and just had his 20-game double-digit scoring streak snapped in Dallas on Tuesday.
Unfortunately, Young has shot the Lakers out of some games too.
In L.A.'s last 10, he's shot just 40.7 percent from the field and a paltry 30 percent from deep on six attempts per game.
His 3.2 nightly turnovers against just 1.3 assists is a sore point as well.
For the season Swaggy P has been Swaggy P. At times he's been incredibly entertaining, while at other times he's been incredibly frustrating. But he never fails to be interesting.
2. Jodie Meeks
Without Kobe Bryant in the lineup, Jodie Meeks is entrenched as the Lakers' starting shooting guard.
He's earned the trust of Mike D'Antoni as he leads the team in minutes, averaging nearly 38 a night over the last 10.
Meeks has become more of a focal point on offense as D'Antoni has given him the ultimate green light.
While he is chipping in nicely with 16 points per game during this stretch, his efficiency has suffered. Meeks is shooting just 41 percent from the floor and and making only 33 percent of his nearly seven nightly three-point attempts.
Overall, Meeks has been much better in his second season in L.A. He has gamely stepped into a larger role and has even handled backup point guard duties at times.
1. Pau Gasol
Maybe all the trade rumors have lit a fire under Pau Gasol.
Whatever the case may be, he's really picked up his game recently and has clearly been L.A.'s best player.
Over the Lakers' past 10 games, Gasol (who did miss three of those tilts) is averaging an All-Star line of 19 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and two blocks.
He's been more aggressive with the ball in his hands and opposing teams are beginning to fear him again, which opens up more lanes for the big man to utilize his creative passing skills.
The Lakers couldn't get the right package from the Cleveland Cavaliers in a potential Pau deal, but if Gasol continues to play like this, L.A. will surely find some team out there willing to give up an asset for the Spaniard.
Here is a brief rundown of all the Lakers on the roster who didn't make the rankings:
- Kobe Bryant: Injured; hasn't played since Dec. 17; out at least three more weeks.
- Steve Nash: Injured; hasn't played since Nov. 10; out indefinitely.
- Steve Blake: Injured; hasn't played since Dec. 10; out at least two more weeks.
- Jordan Farmar: Injured; has played in just four games since Dec. 1; out at least three more weeks.
- Shawne Williams: Waived by the team on Jan. 7.
- Elias Harris: Has appeared in two games all season; none since Nov. 12.
Note: Injury timelines according to Basketball-Reference.