The Los Angeles Lakers are a team with a strong roster that should be a strong contender for a championship. However, this season they are seventh in the Western Conference with eight wins and seven losses.
Not quite what NBA fans expected from the Lakers. To be fair to them, they have been dealing with key injuries. Trevor Ariza, Kendrick Nunn, Austin Reaves, Talen Horton-Tucker, Wayne Ellington and not to mention LeBron James have all been going through injuries.
Ariza and Nunn are still yet to even play for the Lakers this season. So, better times are coming for the purple and gold.
Anthony Davis was brutally honest about the state of the team right now.
He said: “Championship team? That’s not us right now. Not winning a championship the way we’re playing.
“We got to be better, and we got to care more for our wins at home, wins in general.”
The Lakers will be better once they have their full roster back together. They should be that championship contender we expected them to be before the season started.
One thing the Lakers have, that all championship teams need to have to win, is great role players. The Lakers have a strong bench, without a doubt.
Here are the three important role players for the Lakers.
1. Malik Monk
All of Lakers Nation has to have been impressed by Malik Monk. It may be safe to say a lot of people were surprised that he joined the Lakers during free agency on a minimum contract because he’s such a great player.
The stats may say he is only averaging 8.6 points per game, coming off the bench. However, these numbers should go back when the Lakers go back to winning ways.
In the Lakers’ win against the San Antonio Spurs he had 16 points and was 6-10 from the field. He was also 2-4 from beyond the arc with a +8 plus-minus.
In the Lakers’ win against the Miami Heat, he had 27 points and was 10-13 from the field and 4-7 from the three-point line. In this game, the Lakers won by three, and he had a +12 plus-minus.
These aren’t the only examples of Monk being key this season. He is a great offensive player, he can create his shot, he is a good shooter and he has efficient games.
Like most of his teammates, he has had some bad games this year, which is why his averages don’t show how good and important he is, although Lakers fans all know what he brings to the team.
2. Talen Horton-Tucker
Talen Horton-Tucker. THT. One of the most loved players on the roster by Lakers fans, and deservedly so.
There were rumors last season that the Lakers didn’t trade for six-time All-Star Kyle Lowry because the Raptors wanted Horton-Tucker.
The Lakers showed this offseason that they value him by giving him a three-year contract, worth around $30 million. He is someone who has gotten better and better as time goes on.
He put in the work this offseason but couldn’t show it until recently due to injury. Immediately upon his return, Frank Vogel put him straight into the starting lineup.
In his first game back, he had 17 points on 7-14 shooting in a win over the San Antonio Spurs. He is continuing to become a good on-ball defender and showed some great defense against the Spurs.
Whilst his defense is a big positive, the biggest positive is, of course, his offense. He is great at attacking the basket and very capable of getting his shot off.
His three-point game still needs improving, although he definitely shoots with confidence and it is only a matter of time before his shot becomes very consistent.
He’s got a good first step, finishes well around the basket, and does not shy from big moments.
3. Carmelo Anthony
Where to even start on Carmelo Anthony. You can feel how excited and happy fans are that he is on the team.
Every time he checks into the game, every time he touches the ball, every time he takes a shot. The crowd loves him and for good reason.
He provides scoring off the bench and has been providing this for a while in the latter stages of his career. He’s of the greatest scorers in this leagues’ history and a future Hall of Famer.
Now he is a great veteran leader who still brings buckets of the bench. This season he is averaging 15.9 points per game, and he has stepped up to the starting lineup due to LeBron James’ injury.
He’s shooting 45.3% from beyond the arc and averaging 6.3 attempts. The Lakers have other great role players, such as Austin Reaves, Wayne Ellington, Kendrick Nunn, Rajon Rondo, Trevor Ariza, and Dwight Howard.
The next one to make the list probably would have been Rajon Rondo, as we saw how important he was in the Lakers winning their championship in the 2019-2020 season.
Kendrick Nunn is also a very exciting player to have off the bench, but as we are yet to see him we can’t put him about Anthony yet.
The difference between Anthony and other role players is that he can and has been igniting the team to victory like no other can.
When he gets hot shooting, it elevates and excites the whole team as well as having the whole of Staples center going crazy.
His defense is less than desirable, and you may even view him as a liability on defense. However, when Anthony is shooting well, the Lakers feel like they are on another level.
Not to mention, he can still hit some big shots in the clutch.
You need players like him, that can be the spark in a team when they are struggling offensively. Especially when it comes to the playoffs.
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