Just when we thought the injury bug was finally terminated, Steve Nash once again limped across the court in pain in a loss at home against the Chicago Bulls. Adding to the list of injuries are Jodie Meeks, Pau Gasol, and Nick Young.
The Lakers practiced with just eight guys today. Because of the injuries, they had to bring back Shawne Williams earlier this week. To put it short, the Lakers injury situation this season has been more terrifying than an Alfred Hitchcock movie.
That being said, they were able to muster two wins this week – albeit against two of the most atrocious teams in the league in Cleveland and Philadelphia. That said, a win’s a win and the Lakers will take it.
Because of the injuries, a player who would barely step foot on the court is finally getting some playing time and he’s making the most of it – Chris Kaman.
Over the last four games, Kaman is averaging 16 points per game, along with six rebounds, 1.5 blocks, and a +7.5 in just 21 minutes per game. He’s also shooting 56 percent over that span. Prior to this, Kaman hadn’t played since January 17, where he only received six minutes of action.
What’s interesting is that Kaman, who has put up significantly better numbers than teammate Robert Sacre, has played in fewer games than the second-year center. No, he’s not Shaquille O’Neal, but it’s good to see Kaman finally get the playing time he deserves and it’s been paying dividends.
Only five other Lakers have played in each of the last four games – Kendall Marshall, Sacre, Ryan Kelly, Wes Johnson, and Steve Blake.
Blake has received monster minutes since his return from injury and like most point guards in Mike D’Antoni’s system, he has been solid. He’s averaging 8.3 assists in 38 minutes per game. However, rust has showed in his shooting as he’s just making 32 percent of his field goals attempts.
Marshall, another point guard who has thrived in D’Antoni’s system, has seen his minutes diminish ever since Nash’s return. Kendall played at least 35 minutes in every game in the 2014 calendar year. He saw his minutes slashed to the low 20’s the night Nash returned. He played 37 minutes as a result of Nash’s injury during Sunday’s game.
Despite his diminished playing time, Marshall continues to excel. He’s averaging 9.3 points and 7.8 assists per game along with a whopping 61 percent field goal percentage. Marshall’s dominance in limited time shows just how effective he can be off the bench. It’ll be interesting to see how he fares when he’s actually on a good team.
It’s pretty impressive that the Lakers were able to pull off one of their best weeks in recent memory with such a depleted roster. Kaman and Marshall, as mentioned above, had plenty to do with the Lakers’ success. The Lakers play two more games at home against Utah and Oklahoma City before getting a well-deserved All-Star break.
Tanking, a lingering injury, or a personality conflict are the only things that can possibly explain Kaman’s lack of playing time. Kelly I get, since he’s young, relatively talented for a late 2nd-round pick, and is getting valuable low-pressure game experience. But Sacre, while he seems like a nice guy, he should purely be used the way the 2004 Pistons used Darko–as a victory cigar.
While I’m not as down on him as most, I think it’s fair to say that MDA isn’t the very most brilliant coach that ever lived, but it should be screamingly obvious to anyone with a whisper of basketball sense that if the intention is to win games, Sacre should only be playing in the last 5 minutes of blowouts.
Anyway, my theory is that they’ve embraced the tank (which sucks but makes sense for–wait for it–basketball reasons), MDA is taking the heat for it because they’ve agreed to part ways at the end of the year, while paying the final year of his contract in full. Gives the organization a nice clean sheet to start the wholesale rebuild this (and next) summer. Me, I wouldn’t mind to see Adelman or Larry Brown for a few years to get the team back on track.