Power Ranking Every Key LA Lakers Player Before Season's End

Ehran Khan@@ekhansworldContributor IIIMarch 20, 2014

Power Ranking Every Key LA Lakers Player Before Season's End

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    With the Los Angeles Lakers playing as woefully as they have over the past three months, it's tough to give anyone on the roster credit for playing well.

    But there have been some bright spots on an individual level here. 

    Guys who couldn't get off the bench—or in some cases couldn't find an NBA job— in other cities have been able to showcase their talent with the Lakers.

    These power rankings for L.A's key players take into account each player's body of work for the season, but extra weight is given to their recent performance.


    Note: Due to their lack of appearances, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash are not ranked. All statistics as of March 18.

10. Jordan Hill

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    Injuries have bothered Hill yet again (he's yet to play in a game this month), but a lack of trust from coach Mike D'Antoni has been the greater issue.

    Hill has performed splendidly when getting minutes. He's third on the team in PER and is averaging 15 points and 13 rebounds per 36 minutes for the second consecutive season, yet he averages less than 20 minutes a game.

    That doesn't make any sense, especially considering the guys D'Antoni inserted into the lineup in his stead.

    Hill could easily have taken the minutes lavished onto the likes of Roebrt Sacre and Shawne Williams, and the Lakers would probably have been much better off for it.

9. Nick Young

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    Nick Young has appeared in just one game since Feb. 5, and that lack of recent exposure is why he winds up so low on this list.

    Swaggy P has done exactly what the Lakers brought him in to do—score the ball.

    He's second on the team in scoring at nearly 17 a night and was the first Laker to top 30 points in a game this season.

    Though his three-point percentage has declined for the fourth straight year, Young has made up for that with a career-best free-throw rate and a two-point percentage that beats his career average.

    The Lakers wouldn't mind if he opts in to his $1.2 million contract for 2014-15.

8. Xavier Henry

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    Injuries keep Xavier Henry low on this list as well.

    The fourth-year pro missed two months due to a knee issue, interrupting what was by far the best year of his career.

    Henry has the most upside of any player on the roster with his ability to slice through opposing defenses and get to the foul line at will.

    He's struggled since returning to the lineup, shooting just 34 percent from the field, but he has hit four of his nine threes and 16 of his 18 free-throw attempts—two areas that could use continued improvement.

7. Kendall Marshall

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    Out of the league a year after being drafted in the lottery, Kendall Marshall was a revelation after the Lakers picked him up and were forced to insert him into the starting lineup.

    Only Chris Paul dishes out more assists per game than the former North Carolina Tar Heel.

    However, Marshall has cooled off considerably since his hot start.

    He has failed to reach double figues in scoring in each of his past 12 contests and has been held scoreless in five of them.

    Marshall is shooting just 25 percent from the field, 28 percent from three and 17 percent from the foul line over that span.

    Now that Jordan Farmar has suffered yet another injury, Marshall will get all the minutes he can handle down the stretch—an opportunity to cement his place in the league.

6. Kent Bazemore

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    Who would have thought that Kent Bazemore would start more games at shooting guard for the Lakers this season than Kobe Bryant?

    Bazemore got his first-ever opportunity at receiving extended minutes as soon as he got to L.A.

    After averaging just five minutes a game in his career with the Golden State Warriors, Bazemore is averaging over 29 minutes a game with the Lakers and scoring 14 points a game.

    Like Xavier Henry, Bazemore is also a lefty slasher, but he's flashed a surprisingly efficient three-point stroke as well—he's knocked down 39 percent of his triples so far.

    Bazemore should get plenty of run over the last month of the season to show that his performance thus far has not been a fluke.

5. Ryan Kelly

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    Ryan Kelly looks like a very good draft night value. 

    The 48th overall pick in last June's draft fits into the Lakers' scheme nicely as a stretch-4 with a little off-the-bounce game thrown in as well.

    Kelly's minutes have fluctuated throughout the year, but he's made the most of his recent increase in playing time.

    Over his last five games Kelly is averaging over 12 points, six rebounds and three assists in just over 30 minutes a night. And, even more impressively, he has shot 56 percent from three-point range and 93 percent from the charity stripe in that span.

    Kelly can be a solid rotation piece going forward as he continues to develop his all-around game.

4. Wesley Johnson

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    Wesley Johnson comes by this ranking thanks in large part to his durability.

    On a team ravaged with injuries, Johnson has missed just one contest. He's played in more games than anyone else on the roster.

    Johnson's production has been up and down. He was terrific in the month of February, averaging 14 points, six rebounds, a steal and 1.5 blocks per game on 51 percent shooting from the field and a scintillating 50 percent from beyond the arc.

    March has been a different story however, as he has shot just 38 percent from the floor and a miserable 17 percent from deep en route to eight points and four rebounds a game.

    If Johnson can just find some consistency—on both ends of the court—he could be a valuable rotation cog on a good team.

3. Jordan Farmar

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    Sadly, injury issues have marred what should have been a glorious return to L.A. for native son Jordan Farmar.

    He's been fantastic when healthy, as one of just three Lakers to post an above-average PER over 35-plus games. And he's been great recently.

    Over his last nine games, Farmar has averaged 15 points in just 23 minutes a night, knocking down an unreal 57 percent of his five-plus threes per game while also boasting an assist-to-turnover ratio of better than two-to-one.

    But Farmar is once again on the shelf for a couple of weeks after straining his groin in practice earlier this week.

    If he could just stay on the court, Farmar could easily win the Lakers' starting point guard job. Los Angeles should consider him for that spot next season if they don't go after a lead guard in free agency or in the draft.

2. Jodie Meeks

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    Jodie Meeks has been L.A.'s most consistent player this season.

    Meeks has scored between 10 and 19 points 40 times this year, and has only been held to single digits on nine occasions.

    He's been terrific recently too, averaging 19 points a night over his last 13 contests, including a very Kevin Durant-like 42-point explosion against Durant's Thunder.

    The Kentucky product is known for his catch-and-shoot ability from downtown, but he's massively improved his interior scoring ability.

    Last season it seemed like every time Meeks barrelled into the lane something bad would happen. He shot just 53 percent at the rim in 2013, but has taken that figure all the way up to 66 percent in 2014, per Basketball-Reference.

    And according to NBA.com, Meeks is seventh among all guards in field-goal percentage within five feet of the basket. He's made his shots from there at the same clip as James Harden and at a better rate than Tony Parker.

    Meeks is a great asset to have off the bench as a guy who can consistently knock down open threes or who can get hot for a quarter and swing an entire game.

1. Pau Gasol

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    Through the injuries, constant trade rumors and all the chaos around him, Pau Gasol has soldiered on and shown why he is one of the best offensive big men of his generation.

    Coming off a down year last year, Gasol has bounced back nicely to become L.A.'s fulcrum on offense.

    His minutes are at their lowest in a decade, yet he is still churning out 18 points and 10 rebounds on a nightly basis.

    And over the past two months he has put up All-Star caliber numbers, averaging 21 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and 1.6 blocks in under 33 minutes a game while shooting 53 percent from the field.

    An impending free agent this summer, it's unknown where he stands in the Lakers' future plans.

    Gasol is still an incredible offensive weapon, but his defense has slipped considerably.

    Taking into account the state of the Lakers organization, it may not be the best move to re-sign Gasol at his market value.

    But if L.A. can't attract any marquee free agents this offseason, they may be forced to turn again to their old faithful Spaniard and act like they wanted him to stay all along.