L.A. Lakers: Sasha Vujacic's Concussion Adds To Lakers' Injury Woes

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IOctober 15, 2010

BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 07: Sasha Vujacic #18 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the NBA Europe Live match between Los Angeles Lakers and Regal FC Barcelona at the at Palau Blaugrana on October 7, 2010 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

Add Sasha Vujacic's name to the list of early injuries that has the Los Angeles Lakers looking more like a hospital ward, rather than the defending NBA champions.

Vujacic was struck in the head by an accidental elbow from Lamar Odom, and his indefinite return makes the regular season opener against the Houston Rockets even more of a mystery.

At least we know injured center Andrew Bynum will not return until at least December.

No one really has any idea whether or not Kobe Bryant will be available for the Oct. 26th season opener, and if his knee has improved from the previous 60 percent diagnosis, neither Bryant nor coach Phil Jackson seems inclined to say.

The fact that concussions are tricky injuries and have garnered so much publicity lately, the Lakers will probably be very careful with Vujacic, which is definitely the right thing to do.

The Lakers have a little less than two weeks before the season starts, and if Vujacic is unable to play, then Shannon Brown will likely see a heavy dose of minutes.

Bryant, Brown and Vujacic are the only shooting guards on the Lakers roster, and any fill-in help would likely come from the combination of Steve Blake, Matt Barnes and rookie Devin Ebanks.

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Blake can play the shooting guard position, but the Lakers need him to focus his concentration on learning the point guard spot, because therein lies the majority of his responsibility.

Barnes can also provide some relief in the absence of Vujacic and Brown, but it's highly doubtful any of them can come close to replicating Bryant's offensive production.

Ebanks can play spot duty, but it's unlikely Jackson will take a chance on the rookie, despite the favorable circumstances caused by the rash of injuries.

At times Jackson's attitude towards rookies is stubborn and irrational, but considering he has won 11 NBA championships, there is little room to question his motives.

Brown proved last season that he could be effective in Bryant's absence, and he even scored a career-high 27 points in a game during that period.

But, 27 points per game was Bryant's average last season, and whatever combination of players the Lakers have healthy and available will struggle to match that number on a consistent basis.

The brunt of the scoring responsibility will likely fall on the shoulders of Pau Gasol and Odom, but their burden will be increased unless the Lakers perimeter players can hit some shots.

If the guards are ineffective it won't take long for the opposition to pack the middle of the paint and dare the Lakers to hit some perimeter shots.

If no one on the Lakers roster can step up, a season that has began with an ominous tone could transform into something even worse.

Vujacic is scheduled to be examined further today, and hopefully he is cleared to play by the time the regular season starts.

In the past I would have never thought that the health of Vujacic would be essential to a good start for the Lakers, but during these uncertain times, even the importance of his play has been magnified.

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