5 LA Lakers Who Represented the Franchise Properly This Season
The Los Angeles Lakers are wrapping up the worst season in their franchise's storied history, but you can't put that all on the players.
For a second consecutive season, the team has been wracked by injuries—especially to its stars—exposing the lack of true talent on the roster.
You have to hand it to the guys who have suited up. They're playing their tails off trying to win games while the rest of the NBA's bottom-feeders are busy trying to stock up on ping pong balls.
It's refreshing to watch—even if it hurts L.A.'s odds at landing a top draft pick.
These five players in particular can hold their heads high and know they did the organization proud.
Jodie Meeks has actually been the Lakers' most consistent player this season.
He leads the team in minutes and has vastly improved his game.
Normally, efficiency falls as usage increases—especially for role players—but Meeks has actually seen his efficiency increase as his usage has spiked to a career high.
Meeks is shooting better from the field and from beyond the arc than he ever has before. He has also learned to successfully finish around the basket, improving his accuracy at the rim from a woeful 52.8 percent in 2013 to a strong 65.5 percent this season, per Basketball-Reference.
He plays hard at both ends of the floor and never stops running. According to NBA.com, Meeks is in the top 40 in the league in distance covered per game.
He's definitely secured himself a permanent rotation spot in the NBA.
Jordan Farmar has been a victim of L.A.'s injury bug, but he's been in excellent form this year when on the court.
Farmar has been lights-out from deep, his 45.7 percent three-point percentage ranking third in the NBA. Per 36 minutes he has averaged a robust 17 points, four rebounds and nearly eight assists.
Every time it seems like Farmar is about to claim the starting point guard job as his own, he goes down with an injury.
He may not be the point guard of the future anymore, but keeping Farmar around would lock up one of the league's top backups who could be an effective starter if necessary.
Nick Young has come in and done exactly what the Lakers have expected of him—get buckets.
The Southern California native has the green light to fire whenever he desires, but to his credit, he hasn't abused that power as many thought he would this season.
Rather, Young has done a good job of getting his shots in the flow of the offense for the most part. His usage has crested to a career high, but his efficiency has received a slight uptick as well.
His shooting percentages are all right around career norms, but he has boosted his free-throw rate substantially, leading to the highest per-minute scoring output of his career.
Young has a player option for the 2014-15 season. Though he has looked comfortable playing in his hometown, there aren't too many guys averaging 17 points per game who would take a $1.2 million salary over hitting the open market.
It's been a tough year for Jordan Hill. Minor injuries have caused him to miss some time, but the thing really holding him back is his head coach.
Mike D'Antoni refuses to commit to Hill, even though every time Hill has gotten big minutes he has produced accordingly.
For instance, upon Hill's recent return from injury he put up a career-high 28 points to go along with 13 rebounds in 33 minutes. For his outstanding work he was rewarded with 14 minutes in the following game.
In the game after that Hill was again trusted with 31 minutes, and he responded with a 28-16 line. He's received 24 and 18 minutes, respectively, in the two games since.
How frustrating must that be? And yet Hill plays hard every opportunity he gets.
He is worth keeping long term, but his price tag may be a little too steep for the Lakers come this offseason.
If Jordan Hill's situation is frustrating, how must Pau Gasol feel?
For what seems like the sixth year in a row, trade rumors constantly surrounded Gasol—even after the organization allegedly took him off the trade block.
Gasol persevered through all the turmoil, also fighting off injuries and a slow start to the campaign.
Before a bout of vertigo sidelined Gasol recently, he had re-established himself as one of the premier big men in the game.
Since the calendar flipped to 2014, Gasol has averaged 20.3 points on 51.4 percent shooting to go along with 10.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.7 blocks per contest. Those are All-Star-caliber numbers of a magnitude that Gasol had never previously produced in L.A.
This could be the final stretch of games Gasol plays as a member of the Lakers. If that's the case, he will go down in Laker lore as one of the greats.
His performance and professionalism in this nightmare of a season only serves to add to his legacy.