Most Disappointing LA Lakers Players in Preseason so Far

Thomas DuffyFeatured ColumnistOctober 14, 2013

Oct 6, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni (left) stands with guard Steve Nash (10) during the first half against the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

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.

Oct 8, 2013; Ontario, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guards Jordan Farmar (left) and Nick Young react before the game against the Denver Nuggets at Citizens Business Bank Arena. The Lakers defeated the Nuggest 90-88. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Spo
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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.

 

Jordan Hill

After speculation that he could be Los Angeles’ starting power forward in 2014, Jordan Hill has come up worlds short of expectations this preseason.

LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 10:  Jordan Hill #27 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts to an official's call during a preseason game against the Sacramento Kings at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on October 10, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Sacramento won 104-86. NOTE TO
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

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.

 

Wesley Johnson

While Wesley Johnson’s preseason production has been disappointing, his health is even more concerning.

EL SEGUNDO, CA - SEPTEMBER 28:  Wesley Johnson #11 of the Los Angeles Lakers poses for a picture during media day at Toyota Sports Center on September 28, 2013 in El Segundo, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downlo
NBA Photos/Getty Images

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).

 

Steve Nash

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.

BEIJING, CHINA - OCTOBER 14: Steve Nash of the Los Angeles Lakers speaks to the media prior to practice as part of 2013 Global Games on October 14, 2013 at the MasterCard Center in Beijing, China. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that,
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

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.