If coming into the All-Star break with a 27-31 file wasn’t unhealthy sufficient for the Los Angeles Lakers, the data that they’ll be with out the companies of Anthony Davis for the subsequent few weeks resulting from a foot sprain he suffered within the remaining recreation previous to the annual layoff is clearly the furthest factor from superb.
Because the file suggests, the Lakers’ season thus far has been extremely underwhelming. Whereas the implications of the offseason commerce to amass Russell Westbrook have been documented to demise, the general inconsistency of their lineups, and therefore participant availability, has been a much more underrated theme of the 12 months.
So far, the Lakers have used 28 totally different beginning lineups, resulting from each a mixture of underperforming gamers, roster mismanagement, and the results of COVID and harm, like all groups have needed to take care of indirectly or type.
With Anthony Davis sidelined for the foreseeable future, the Los Angeles Lakers don’t have any possibility however to go small and reside with the outcomes
However apparently sufficient, it’s the beginning lineup they rolled out of their most up-to-date outing that’s been their most used to date this season. In 5 video games as a beginning lineup, the mixture of LeBron James, Westbrook, Avery Bradley, Stanley Johnson, and Malik Monk has produced a 4-1 file.
After commencing the season with DeAndre Jordan because the beginning middle, and at occasions Dwight Howard, head coach Frank Vogel later revealed that he can be taking a unique course for the rest of the season.
With Davis out of the image, in the interim, the aforementioned five-man lineup now has the chance to search out some continuity, and most significantly, consistency. Particularly, it’s Monk who must be utilized essentially the most.
Malik Monk must be accentuated by the Lakers whereas Anthony Davis is out
For the season, the fifth-year guard has averaged 13.0 factors in 27.1 minutes per recreation. Nonetheless, in his 19 video games as a starter, these numbers soar to 17.5 factors in 32.8 minutes per recreation, together with hitting at a terrific 42.4 p.c clip from three-point vary on 7.3 makes an attempt. It’s clear the fixed theme right here is James, with whom Monk is shooting at a sizzling 50.9 percent clip from the sphere when sharing the courtroom.
Over the course of the season, the Lakers are 8-2 when Monk has scored no less than 22 factors. His skill to attain each on and off the ball has been one of many few positives this season for the group. Along with Monk, Johnson and Bradley are primarily within the lineup as versatile defenders who’ve the flexibility to work off the ball and let James and Westbrook function.
This leads us again to the elephant within the room, which is an uncommon approach to describe a nine-time All-Star and former league MVP. Westbrook has been a world of inconsistency since arriving in Los Angeles. And whereas the match with James made little sense to nearly all observers, the Lakers merely don’t have any different possibility however to do the very best they’ll with what they’ve.
Along with being essentially the most used beginning lineup this season, the five-man lineup of James, Westbrook, Johnson, Bradley, and Monk has additionally compiled essentially the most complete minutes of any quintet this season, albeit simply 77 complete minutes.
In some constructive information, this five-man unit has registered an elite 125.6 offensive score, which, among the many 99 five-man lineups across the league this season which have performed no less than 75 minutes, ranks seventh in offensive score. It is a stark distinction to the Lakers’ twenty third ranked 108.8 offensive score on the 12 months.
And whereas the lack of Anthony Davis can be an infinite problem, the Lakers have already handled this earlier than this season. They compiled a 7-10 file when the 28-year-old was sidelined for 17 video games with a left knee harm.
With simply 24 video games remaining within the common season, there’s merely no time for let up for the rest of the roster obtainable. However with the data that this alternate beginning lineup has contributed positively thus far, going small is de facto the one method ahead for the Los Angeles Lakers.