The Los Angeles Lakers have had a tough start this season, which many have predicted, as their newly redesigned list of players faces the challenge of their opponents in the playoffs. But a defense improvement led to a turnaround and the team is now 11-9 up for grabs on Thursday.
The Lakers head coach, Luke Walton, evaluates the team in 10-game increments and welcomes the progress of his group since the beginning of the game. However, Walton noted that although the Lakers' defense has regained strength, their pace and attack have suffered, and it is a question of finding a balance.
In the 20 games this season, here's a glimpse of what's apparent with the Lakers' lineup and what's left of the question marks.
LeBron is still LeBron
Sixteen and LeBron James still has it. James led the team in points (27.6), rebounds (7.9), aids (6.7) and thefts (1.4). It draws more than 37% of three, not to mention explode for record nights.
The aggressive ball is the best ball
Ask any of his Lonzo Ball teammates or coaches and they will tell you how much he can influence the match …. As long as he is aggressive. During the second year, Ball's developed and showed signs of growing confidence.
He shoots at three with less hesitation and 35% accuracy. His growing claim, which includes more basket drives, will be a key element in keeping the Lakers attack going.
JaVale McGee is an impact player
What would Javale McGee look like as a great starter from the Lakers after two seasons playing an average of nine minutes per game? McGee averages 24 games, 12.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.9 blocks (!!) per game.
McGee has made a good faith presence for the Lakers.
The team can better care about basketball
Lakers' turnover problems have intensified with Rajon Rondo over the past two weeks. In order to maintain the pace, the passes become hasty, sloppy and sometimes too ambitious.
Coughing the ball does not only mean missed opportunities in attack, but also easy baskets for opponents. On average, the teams scored 18.5 points behind the Lakers turnovers. They are currently ranked 21st for business per game and have had only two games with single – digit business numbers.
Scoring is not the problem
The Lakers have found ways to generate an offense. They spent the first 20 games in the top 10 in the league in points per game. The problem is not to let their opponents score more.
LeBronZo can work
Ball's little-used playing style has demonstrated his ability to coexist alongside James. The two high IQ playmakers coordinated many remarkable moments. In the formations of five players who played together for more than 20 minutes, the two players with the highest offensive rating include James and Ball.
Rajon Rondo is not poisonous
Rondo has a reputation for being in the locker room. But a quarter-way into the season in Los Angeles and the biggest drama he's sparked concerns a battle of Chris Paul. Nothing internal.
If you watch Rondo during games, whether in the entourage or on the ground, he talks and coaches his teammates constantly. Even with a broken hand, the veteran leader was on the field during Lakers training with his team.
The west is wild
It's crazy here! About a quarter, the Clippers sit at the top of the Western Conference and the Houston Rockets rank 14th. The pack is jam-packed and the Lakers are currently in seventh place. Every game is important and we love it.
The Lakers front office will move to action
During his meeting with Luke Walton in early November for the acquisition of Tyson Chandler by Magic Johnson, it was proven that this front office wanted to win, and win now. If the Lakers continue to hover around 500 until December, it would not be surprising to see this list change from here to February.
As for what we still do not know about the Lakers …
How patient can LeBron James be?
An 11-9 record is James's worst start to the season since 2007. Remember what he warned on October 29: "You do not want to be near me when I lose patience. "? After losing to Minnesota and starting 2-5, the Lakers have won nine of their next 11 games.
But after two ugly defeats (at home against Orlando Magic and an explosion in Denver), the Lakers have returned to inconsistency in defense and rotation problems. How will the dynamics change until December and what is the degree of patience of the king?
Who is the second guy in the team?
There have been only five games so far this season in which James did not lead the scoring team: Kyle Kuzma (3), Brandon Ingram (1), Lance Stephenson (1). The other two top scorers of the team are Kuzma (16.7 points per game) and Ingram (15.7).
Not to mention the fact that we have not yet seen a Laker other than LeBron at the clutch.
Can Brandon Ingram grow alongside LeBron?
It's frustrating because Ingram was excited as a youngster who would benefit the most from playing alongside James. Unfortunately, statistics say the opposite. James and Ingram played 417 minutes together. According to ESPN, when James is on the field, Ingram scores 15.1 points every 36 minutes on a shot of 44.1%.
When James is on leave, those numbers go up to 29.5 out of 56%. The development of Ingram counts in more than one way. Can the # 2 choice of 2016 thrive in tandem with the King? If not, will it grow enough to be an important commercial item to carry to another superstar?
Is someone safe to be moved (other than James)?
Dates to remember: On December 15, frontline offices can officially exchange guys who have changed teams as freelancers this summer. In addition, February 7 is the trading deadline.
The aggressive maneuvers of Lakers basketball president Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka in the past suggest that the list may not be the same as early as February 8.
Will the pace continue?
The Lakers are currently second in the league in quick break points per game, and they rank in the top five in pace (103.93). The team wants to play fast, but what is the reality with an older James, who masters the game in half-court?
Will this track team maintain its speed, or will this dizzying pace end as the season progresses?
Can this fast pace complete a solid defense?
While the Lakers are looking to stay on the defensive, will that affect the way they want to play on the other side of the field? Can an excellent defense rating accompany a height attack?
Are the banners here to stay?
Do you like it? Insert the hands that pray emoji.
Are free kicks contagious?
This team has had difficulties with charity in the first 20 games. The Lakers rank last in free throws (71.5) and free throws per game (16.2). Not to mention the general landscape of the league, the team does not do much hay line.
The Lakers are 25th in total points scored by free throws (14.3%).
The Lakers can get a more consistent production of their bench?
The early suspensions, the Rondo injury and the new staff mix have not been the perfect opportunity for regular alignments to develop chemistry. It's early, but the Lakers bench has a score lower than 10 points per game (33.7). What can be tinkered with to maximize production when James is not in the field?
Where is LaVar Ball?