LA Lakers Stock Watch: Who's Trending Up and Who's Trending Down?
The current lockout is keeping Lakers fans from seeing their favorite players on the hardwood this fall. But rest assured, there will be NBA basketball to follow again one day.
So, what can we expect from the members of the Lakers when play does resume? Who’s trending up? Who’s trending down?
Let’s go to the first edition of the Los Angeles Lakers stock watch.
10. Luke Walton: Falling
Due to an ailing back, Luke Walton has only averaged nine minutes and two points a game in only 83 games the last two seasons. While Walton was recovering, Phil Jackson made the Arizona alum an honorary assistant coach. Walton is currently serving as an assistant coach for the University of Memphis during the lockout.
With his injury history and general lack of consistent playing ability, it’s hard to see Walton’s stock rise very much going forward. And who knows, he may decide to retire early and work his way up the coaching ranks.
9. Steve Blake: Rising
After Steve Blake’s poor first season with the Los Angeles Lakers, his stock has nowhere to go but up. Last season, Blake averaged a career low in points (4.0) and shot his lowest percentage from the field since the 2004-05 season.
The playoffs only got uglier for Blake, as his scoring average and shooting percentage dropped from four and 35 to two and 30, respectively.
8. Shannon Brown: Rising or Falling
After last season ended, Shannon Brown announced he would be testing the free agent waters. Therefore, Brown played his last game as a Laker last May. But considering he hasn’t signed with another team due to the lockout, he is still technically a member of the team.
Brown’s stock rising or falling will likely depend on what type of team he signs with. If Brown signs with a fringe playoff team, he will likely have a more significant role than he did on the Lakers. If he ends up on another contender, it’s hard to imagine Brown playing any better than he has the last two and a half seasons.
7. Matt Barnes: Rising
While his first season with the Lakers wasn’t quite as disappointing as Steve Blake’s was, it certainly failed to live up to expectations. A midseason knee injury and lack of playing time (his lowest point total since 2005-06) kept Barnes from finding his niche with the team.
If given more playing time, Barnes will likely remind fans why they were excited about him coming to the team in the first place.
6. Lamar Odom: Push
In the midst of the team’s exit from the playoffs and the aftermath that ensued, everyone forgot about Lamar Odom having his best season in the NBA, en route to winning the Sixth Man of the Year Award.
While I don’t expect Odom’s game to decline, it’s hard to imagine him topping his 2010-11 campaign.
5. Derek Fisher: Falling
Derek Fisher has been considered the weakest link in the Los Angeles Lakers’ starting lineup for quite sometime now. And his 2010-11 season solidified that argument even more.
Fisher had his lowest scoring average since the 1999-2000 season, in addition to his defense causing more head scratching moments for fans.
4. Ron Artest: Falling
I am convinced Ron Artest peaked as a Laker during the 2009-10 season.
Artest averaged career lows in points and rebounds last season (8.5, 3.3) in addition to his great defense taking a couple of steps back.
3. Andrew Bynum: Rising
If Bynum’s performance at the end of last season was any indication of his play going forward, then the young center's stock is definitely rising.
After the All-Star break, Bynum turned up his intensity on the defensive end, averaging 12 rebounds and more than two blocks a game, as the team won 17 of its first 18 games after the break.
2011-12 could be the season we all remember as Bynum’s coming out party.
2. Pau Gasol: Rising
Yes, it may seem strange for Pau Gasol’s stock to be rising given his postseason slump we were all unfortunately exposed to last spring. But that’s exactly why I believe Gasol’s stock is rising.
Remember, Gasol is one of the best players in the world who has a way larger sample size of good games than weak ones. Therefore, there is no reason to believe Gasol won’t get back to playing All-Pro caliber basketball.
1. Kobe Bryant: Push
Given Kobe Bryant’s aging body and shortlist of injuries he has had to contend with the last couple of seasons, we will likely never see Kobe’s stock rise again.
However, it’s a little too soon to say his stock is falling either. After all, Bryant has had as much rest this offseason than he has had in years, in addition to an experimental procedure on his ailing knee.
So, while his stock won’t be rising, fans can likely expect similar production to what Kobe has provided the last couple of seasons.