Friday, January 3, 2014

The Lakers Are Dangerously Thin Everywhere

Quick question: Can anybody guess how many different players have started for the Lakers this year? If you guessed 13, you would be right, however that soon may be 14 with the news of Xavier Henry's knee injury and Kendall Marshall likely to replace him as the primary ball handler, not to mention Marshall being the only point guard on the roster as Jordan Farmar returns to the disabled list. As currently constructed, the Lakers have a whopping six players on the disabled list. Six! Here's what that list looks like:

  • Kobe Bryant: left tibial plateau fracture, out for six weeks.
  • Steve Blake: torn ligament in right elbow, out for six weeks.
  • Jordan Farmar: torn left hamstring, out for at least 4 weeks.
  • Xavier Henry: strained right knee, to be re-evaluated in 1-2 weeks.
  • Wesley Johnson: illness, questionable for tonight's match up. 
  • Steve Nash: nerve root irritation, out indefinitely.

That is an incredible amount of injuries when you factor in Pau Gasol and his on-again, off-again upper respiratory infection and Chris Kaman's recently sprained ankle. This means the Lakers are down to 10 healthy players out of the 16 total they have under contract, assuming neither Gasol nor Kaman miss any more time. I don't think I need to remind you that teams are supposed to have five players on the court at any given time. The team right now has one functional point guard, two shooting guards (one who plays small forward), two small forwards (one bench warmer), two power forwards and three centers. The team is a mess right now, and are looking like they might be forced to play the bigger lineup I wanted them to play earlier, if only to avoid giving any minutes to Elias Harris

This is not a team that can thrive in a Run n' Gun system like D'Antoni's; with Marshall being the only point guard, and Jodie Meeks, Nick Young and Shawne Williams being the only other perimeter players in the rotation at the moment, the Lakers will need to employ combinations of Gasol, Kaman, Jordan Hill, Robert Sacre and Ryan Kelly between both big men spots to even compete. This roster has been pushed to the limit and cannot afford any more injuries, or Mitch Kupchak will have to dip into free agency and the thin pool of over-the-hill players available. 

This team is not tanking; they simply cannot compete with any teams without their top players. This is not to be unexpected; imagine if the Miami Heat had LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and their top role players on the disabled list at the same time. We also cannot expect a team to go without it's share of injuries, but the rate this Lakers squad has been getting hurt has been astronomical, bordering comical, to the point of almost not being able to field a team with enough bench players.

As of now, the Lakers cannot do anything but wait and hope Wesley Johnson and Xavier Henry will be good to go soon; this team is spiraling into a high lottery pick, which isn't a bad thing at this point, however I think all of us would prefer to not field a D-League team while we wait for Bryant to get completely healthy.