Los Angeles Lakers Power Rankings: Stacking Up the Full Roster in December

Ehran Khan@@ekhansworldContributor IIIDecember 6, 2014

Los Angeles Lakers Power Rankings: Stacking Up the Full Roster in December

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    Kobe Bryant is still The Man in L.A. Who is stepping up around him?
    Kobe Bryant is still The Man in L.A. Who is stepping up around him?Rob Carr/Getty Images

    About a quarter of the way through the regular season, the sample sizes are large enough to take a look at the big picture and determine who have been the best performers for the Los Angeles Lakers so far.

    These are the Lakers' power rankings for games played through December 4.

    It's no surprise who tops the list, but some wild swings have taken place in the order over the past couple of weeks.

    Players were ranked with the entire season to date in mind, but extra weight was given to recent performance.

    Here's how the team stacks up from No. 15 to No. 1.

Nos. 15-11: The Non-Factors

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    No. 15: Steve Nash: Yes, he is technically on the roster, but Nash hasn't suited up and will not for the remainder of the season.

    No. 14: Julius Randle: Los Angeles' great hope saw his season come to a screeching halt after all of 14 minutes.

    No. 13: Ryan Kelly: Kelly has been fighting hamstring issues and has only played 25 minutes on the year.

    No. 12: Xavier Henry: Henry battled back from preseason injuries only to tear his Achilles after limited action.

    No. 11: Jordan Clarkson: The Lakers' other 2014 draft pick is currently out of Byron Scott's rotation, but when he has gotten on the court in garbage time, he's shown some nice aggressiveness and scoring instincts.

No. 10: Robert Sacre

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    Sacre has done exactly what is expected of him so far.

    He comes into the game and provides hustle and energy in a big body. 

    The unheralded Sacre has proved that he belongs on an NBA roster. He has nice touch around the hoop and can hit open mid-range jumpers on offense.

    And on the other side of the court, he can bang with the bruisers down low and secure the defensive glass. For what it's worth, LA only allows 99 points per 100 possessions when he's on the floor, which is the best defensive rating on the team among rotation guys, per NBA.com.

    Sacre's playing time has increased lately, but his efficiency has suffered. He's shooting less than 39 percent from the field in his last five games.

No. 9: Ronnie Price

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    Like Sacre, Price brings good energy and intensity to the game when he enters.

    The 10th-year veteran's value comes mostly on the defensive end, where his effort and smarts keep him in front of his man most of the time. He's also the team leader in steals per minute.

    Price was an offensive zero early on, but his shooting stroke is finally coming around.

    Over his past five contests he's shooting more than 50 percent from the field and 80 percent from three while dishing out almost four assists in fewer than 20 minutes per game.

    Price isn't an ideal backup point guard, but he's been competent this far.

No. 8: Jeremy Lin

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    It's been a rough go for the former sensation.

    Linsanity is gone and buried, and it's been difficult for LA's starting point guard to maintain any type of consistency.

    The Harvard product has yet to strike the right balance playing alongside Kobe Bryant in the backcourt, and his offensive aggression seems to waver game to game.

    After a nice start to the campaign shooting the ball, Lin has gone cold recently, connecting on only 34 percent of his shots and 27 percent of his treys over his last five—including a horrid 0-of-10 night earlier in the week.

    On defense, Lin has been a sieve. He can't stay in front of his man, and screens take him out of plays entirely.

    According to 82games.com, opposing point guards have posted a 23.0 player efficiency rating against him. That means he makes his counterpart, whoever that may be, look slightly better than Damian Lillard (22.83 PER) on a nightly basis.

No. 7: Wayne Ellington

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    You have to credit Ellington for bouncing back from the death of his father to be a productive part of LA's rotation.

    He has become the Lakers' resident sniper, and his success curling off screens has provided the second unit with a viable option on offense.

    The long-range bomber is 16th in the entire league in catch-and-shoot field-goal percentage, and his three-point stroke is only just coming on.

    During his last five contests, Ellington his draining more than 45 percent of his triples, hiking his mark for the season closer to his career average.

    The Lakers are outscoring their opponents with Ellington on the floor so far, and if his strong play continues, Byron Scott will have to feed him some more minutes.

No. 6: Ed Davis

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    Davis has turned out to be a significant addition to the roster after his signing was almost an afterthought this offseason.

    The young big man has been the sole Laker who has shown any capability of being a quality defender. Coach Scott has had to rely on him to protect the rim for a squad that freely allows points in the paint.

    Los Angeles' defense has been nearly five points better per 100 possession with Davis on the court, and opponents are shooting 4.3 percent worse from inside of six feet when he is the one guarding them, per NBA.com.

    Offensively, Davis has been a fantastic finisher. His 63 percent field-goal percentage is among the league leaders, but his usage has dipped recently. 

    He is averaging just three points per contest over his last five and has attempted fewer than two shots per night over that stretch.

    Meanwhile, he continues to struggle at the line, converting a putrid 42 percent of his freebies.

No. 5: Carlos Boozer

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    Boozer is enjoying a nice bounce-back campaign for the Lakers this season, at least offensively.

    After his shooting plummeted last year in Chicago, the former All-Star is back to knocking down better than 50 percent of his shots, and he's hitting almost 56 percent of his attempts his last five times out.

    The key has been the rediscovery of his mid-range jumper. After shooting just 37.7 percent on shots between 10 and 16 feet in 2014, Boozer is putting those looks down at a 46.8 percent clip, per Basketball-Reference.com—his best rate since he was a member of the Utah Jazz.

    Unfortunately, his contributions have not translated to the other side of the ball.

    Without Tom Thibodeau's ruthless scheme and Joakim Noah next to him as a security blanket, Boozer's shoddy defense has been exposed.

    The Lakers allow 118.1 points per 100 possessions when he's on the court, the worst mark of any LA regular. That figure drops all the way down to 106.1 when he's sitting, per NBA.com.

No. 4: Wesley Johnson

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    We've been down this road with Johnson before.

    He heats up for a week, and you think he's finally figured it out, only to be disappointed as he comes crashing back down to earth.

    Johnson is on one of those hot streaks right now that makes you almost see why he was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2010 draft. He's shooting the ball with confidence and making athletic plays on both ends of the court.

    Over his past five tilts, he is shooting 55 percent from the field and 50 percent from downtown while averaging better than a steal and a block per game.

    Overall for the season, though, Johnson has been underwhelming. He's shot poorly, and his defensive rating is on par with Jeremy Lin and nearly as bad as Carlos Boozer's, per Basketball-Reference.com.

    Enjoy the production while it lasts, because we know by now it's just a flash in the pan.

No. 3: Nick Young

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    It's a sign of how badly off this franchise is when Nick Young is touted as the savior.

    As crazy as it sounds, his return has breathed some life back into this club.

    The Lakers are a respectable 4-5 since Swaggy P's comeback, with only one bad loss in that span.

    Young has overcome a slow start to revert to his 2014 form, carrying bench units with his shot-making and scoring.

    In his last five outings, he is scoring nearly 18 points per contest in just 26 minutes while shooting a sizzling 53.3 percent from beyond the arc.

    He's the one player who can give Kobe Bryant a break as the go-to guy, and the spacing he provides when sharing the court with Bryant is essential to the offense.

    Thus far, the Lakers are 7.5 points per 100 possessions better when Young is on the floor as opposed to on the sidelines, per NBA.com.

No. 2: Jordan Hill

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    Hill has lived up to the lavish contract the Lakers signed him to this offseason.

    He has shown this kind of potential the last couple of years, but injuries and limited minutes kept him from producing at this level.

    The Arizona product leads the team in rebounding and is LA's third leading scorer.

    He has expanded his game past the paint and is now a credible threat to can mid-range jumpers, which he is doing at a prolific rate this season. Per Basketball-Reference.com, about one-third of his field goals tries have come from 16 feet and beyond—three times last year's share.

    Hill has also converted nearly 80 percent of his foul shots, and he's maintained his free-throw rate even as his game has drifted further from the hoop.

    If Hill keeps this up, he may be a long-term keeper—or a valuable trade asset as his contract nears expiration.

No. 1: Kobe Bryant

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    Take a minute to sit back and marvel at what Bryant is doing. 

    Just the mere fact that at his age (36), with the tread on his tires and the injuries he's fought back from, he can be the focal point of a team night in and night out is incredible.

    No, the efficiency is not there, and neither are the results, but what he's doing is unprecedented. 

    Look at other high-scoring wings in his age group like Paul Pierce and Vince Carter, and notice how far back they have had to scale their games to remain relevant in this league.

    And yet Bryant continues to bear a heavy burden for his team.

    He is starting to play better basketball now, trusting his teammates more and more.

    Over his past five contests, he's shooting just 18 times per game—while still making 10 trips to the free-throw line—and dishing out seven assists per contest.

    His masterpiece on Nov. 30 against the surging Toronto Raptors made him the oldest player in the last three decades to record a 30-point triple-double.

    You can tear your hair out over all the misses, turnovers and suspect defense, but you still have to admire what the man is doing. Hats off to Kobe Bryant.