One thing has become clearer as the Los Angeles Lakers have not met expectations since returning from the All-Star Game: It's not the kids who have trouble keeping up with the heightened intensity of a race to the playoffs. That's why so many people were hesitating in front of LeBron James, who at first seemed to call the youth of the team.
During Wednesday's shoot, James made sure to point out two types that were right up to the mark: Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma.
"I think, of course, that both are improving their game, especially at the offensive. BI. is in a crazy shooting zone right now, with its efficiency more than anything. Kuz too, he was very effective with every shot attempt he made. It's great to see them and learn about their growth throughout this process, "said James.
In the last three games, the team leaders in terms of net ranking were the newly acquired Reggie Bullock (5.9 points for 100 possessions), Kuzma (4.7) and Ingram (3.5). Compare that to the veterinarians on the team and this portrays a pretty clear story with those who do not carry their weight.
When Rajon Rondo is on the field, the Lakers are outclassed by 21.7 points for 100 possessions. When he was on the bench, the Lakers outclassed the opposition by 10.1 points for 100 possessions. It's a crazy move of -31.8 points. It was unplayable.
According to this calculation, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was not much better. When he played, the Lakers were outclassed by 16.2 points for 100 possessions. While on the bench, the Lakers outclassed the teams by 4.7 points for 100 possessions. The second highest paid player on the team has a brutal impact of -20.9 points.
Random note: Tyson Chandler has barely played due to injury, but currently has a net score of -40. Negative forty! I'm not even angry; I'm impressed.
Lonzo Ball is expected to be re-evaluated Thursday by the team's medical staff. His return to training would minimize the negative impact of Rondo on the team. Meanwhile, Bullock plays as he allowed Luke Walton to stay as far as possible from KCP, although Josh Hart needs to play so his team can do without Caldwell-Pope.
Look now, it's a small theater. A good match of one of the worst players on the team in the last three games can have a real impact on those numbers. The opposite is true of Ingram and Kuzma. Those who have intensified their efforts must continue this momentum and those who have fallen on their faces need to get up again.
By the way, James was absolutely right to praise Ingram and Kuzma. It is not difficult to find this data and it is really off the screen that these two young players have more than held. If he does not rent them for this, they could very easily end up with those who, according to James, might have to consider another team.
If James leaves these things unsaid, he could risk as a team leader to let them become destitute and their production could slip.
Whoever it is, guys have to step in and Walton needs to find a productive rotation from all of this and stick to it until Ball returns. With only 22 games to play, time is running out for a real race. At the very least, it's great to see that some members of the young core are ready and willing to rise to the occasion.
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