Although it has no effect on the regular season, the NBA preseason shows a lot about individual teams.
Great effort is often exerted by rookies or players trying to earn a roster spot, while veterans cheer them on from the sidelines. In other cases, players that are expected to thrive find themselves struggling.
The Los Angeles Lakers have had more of the latter.
Xavier Henry has made a huge statement, leading Los Angeles with about 13 points a game on 46 percent shooting, including a 29-point offensive explosion. Jordan Farmar had 12 points and seven assists in the only game he played. Nick Young has put up 13 points per game while also grabbing close to three boards.
There have definitely been some bright spots. However, the Lakers have had some serious disappointments, too.
The four-year veteran has given L.A. just under four points a game while shooting 33 percent from the field. Those aren’t the type of numbers a potential NBA starter should be putting up in the preseason.
Hill has been able to find success on the boards, however, grabbing seven a night. Still, more consistent offensive production will be necessary if Hill wants to earn the starting frontcourt spot alongside Pau Gasol.
With Chris Kaman’s chemistry with Gasol becoming more evident, Hill needs to step up if he is to grab the starting job.
While Wesley Johnson’s preseason production has been disappointing, his health is even more concerning.
The newly signed wingman suffered a strained tendon in his left foot in his second game with L.A. and is listed as day-to-day, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Before the injury, Johnson had totaled just four points and two assists in a pair of preseason contests. Coach Mike D’Antoni acknowledged his new SF’s struggles, but also told Dave McMenamin of ESPN LA that he’s got confidence in the former Syracuse star.
It could be two bad games, it could be just whatever. I told him today, if you look at the film -- and I don't think he's played well up to his potential -- but with him on the floor, we're a better team. He makes us better…I think going forward, he'll get his rhythm.
While D’Antoni doesn't seem too concerned, four points in 29 minutes on a team-worst 20 percent shooting might be alarming to Lakers fans who were encouraged to hear that this was the “most important season” of Johnson’s life (via LA Times).
It’s time for the Lakers, and every one of their millions of fans, to understand something.
Steve Nash is not what he used to be.
Nash is an all-time great point guard and will absolutely be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He’s one of the greatest to ever play his position and is fourth-best distributor in NBA history. He’s a basketball legend.
But right now, nearing age 40 and his 18th season in the league, Nash is barely a serviceable guard.
His age has been very evident in all three games he’s played in this preseason, and his numbers are even more indicative of the inevitable decline all players must face late in their careers. In three games, Nash has averaged a team-worst 1.3 points on 25 percent shooting.
However, Nash’s 13 assists are second on the team behind Steve Blake’s 16, but the latter has played nearly twice as many minutes as the former.
Nash departed from L.A.’s third preseason contest with a tweaked ankle, which could be a prelude to another obstacle that he and the Lakers must cope with this season—health.
D’Antoni told ESPN LA that his veteran PG could miss games “on and off” throughout the season, and he added that “we have to take care of him.”
Nash’s preseason really resulted in the worst possible scenario—he got hurt and showed serious signs of slowing down.
The Bright Side
Everyone take a deep breath—this is the preseason. It's not the end of the world.
Hill, Johnson and Nash are all going to be huge parts of the Lakers’ 2013-14 campaign, and a couple of bad preseason games don’t necessarily mean that L.A. is doomed.
However, these guys need to turn it around very soon.
Right now, their disappointing performances are not a major problem. If the trio continues to play poorly once the regular season tips off, though, the team will have cause for concern.
But based on the three hard-working, hungry players that we’re dealing with, the Lakers should be fine.