Is the Lakers' 6-7 wins a turning point or a flash in the pan?

Is the Lakers' 6-7 wins a turning point or a flash in the pan?

Is the Lakers' 6-7 wins a turning point or a flash in the pan?

本文编译自:The Athletic

者:Jovan Buha

原标题:LeBron’s health, defensive regression and more Lakers storylines to monitor

On February 23, Beijing time, the Lakers will play the Warriors on the road, and James will be sidelined with an ankle injury. The Lakers have won six of their last seven games, which was a turning point or a flash in the pan for their season. Lakers and team name Jovan Buha has listed 10 things to watch for the rest of the schedule that could determine the team's fate this season.

Is the Lakers' 6-7 wins a turning point or a flash in the pan?

1. Will Zhan Mei be able to survive the rest of the matches?

This has been the defining question for the Lakers this season, and it has always been.

Both James and Bushy have been relatively healthy this season, but James has some ankle issues at the moment, which also saw him miss today's game against the Warriors. Still, the superstar duo is on track for the fewest absences since the 2019-20 season.

James averaged 35.5 minutes per game last season and has dropped this season to 34.9 minutes per game. Thick Eyebrow averaged 35.7 minutes per game, which is the first time he has led the team in this statistic since joining the Lakers, and it is also the longest season since the 2017-18 season.

Having missed a few weeks with injuries over the past three years, will they be able to stay healthy and handle more work than expected for the rest of the season? This will determine not only the Lakers' final standings, but also their chances of winning in the playoffs.

2. Can the offensive improvement be sustained?

Is the Lakers' 6-7 wins a turning point or a flash in the pan?

The Lakers have ranked no higher than 19th in offensive efficiency for three consecutive seasons, and this season didn't turn around until early January. The Lakers have a 13-7 record since their defeat of the Clippers on Jan. 8, and they rank eighth in the league in offensive efficiency over the same period in those 20 games, scoring 119.3 points per 100 possessions.

During this period, the Lakers' true shooting percentage was 2nd in the league in the same period, 3rd in the league in assists in the same period, and 4th in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio over the same period. Of course, this also comes at a cost, and that is the decline on the defensive end.

3. Can the defense be at least league average?

The Lakers' more offensive orientation has also led to a significant decline in defense, also in the last 20 games, the Lakers' defensive efficiency is only ranked 19th in the league. One notable reason is the massive injury of role players, with Vincent, Vanderbilt, Christie, and Reddish all missing a lot of games lately, and they are all important outside defenders for the Lakers. The Lakers' new starters are also inherently offensive, and they need to strike a balance, and the Lakers could have tried a big man lineup to improve some of the problems, but Wood missed at least two weeks due to injury, making their rotation a new problem.

4. Can the rotation stay healthy?

Is the Lakers' 6-7 wins a turning point or a flash in the pan?

The Lakers' stars have been unable to stay healthy over the past few seasons, and this season, their role players have been key to that problem. Most of the rotation has suffered some injuries this season. Lakers management abandoned the Big Three strategy in favor of a balanced roster in the hope of strengthening the team's depth, and frequent injuries to role players also significantly affected the Lakers' performance. The Lakers' playoff prospects will largely depend on how healthy the cast can be.

5. Can Hamm continue to make the right decisions?

Is the Lakers' 6-7 wins a turning point or a flash in the pan?

Ham has been criticized as the head coach of the Lakers, but one fact that fans may have overlooked is that he still made several smart and pivotal decisions throughout the season.

Promoted Reaves to the starting lineup and benched Hachimura late in the regular season...... He also had some previous decisions that seemed too stubborn, such as relying too much on Prince. But now, Prince has come to the bench.

6. Will this version of Russell stay up?

Is the Lakers' 6-7 wins a turning point or a flash in the pan?

It was probably one of the best performances of Russell's career, with the turning point coming against the Jazz on Jan. 16. In that game, Russell scored a season-high 39 points and dished out eight assists. He's been more aggressive, averaging 23.4 points and 6.9 assists per game over the past six weeks, shooting 46.6 percent from the field, 46 percent from three-point range and 88.9 percent from the free throw line over the past six weeks. The question about him is always the playoffs and crunch time, can he still keep this version of himself?

7. How much can Vincent help when he returns?

Is the Lakers' 6-7 wins a turning point or a flash in the pan?

Vincent's long-term absence has almost made Lakers fans forget about him. His annual salary this season is $10.5 million, almost equal to Prince, Reddish, Wood and Hayes combined ($11.56 million), but he has only played five games for the Lakers. Vincent is actually a replacement for Schroder, and if he can get back to form, his offense is what the team needs. Now that the Lakers have Dinwiddie, Vincent can at least rebuild his trade value if he can help him out.

8. What does a healthy rotation look like?

If the vast majority of the Lakers' roster returns to fitness, Ham will face a tough choice in the rotation. James, Bush, Reaves and Russell are certainly in the rotation, Hachimura is playing well enough to keep his spot even if Vanderbilt returns, and Dinwiddie can play as a two-way guard off the bench.

Others are very uncertain, Vanderbilt may not be able to return, and if he does, he will definitely go into the rotation. Prince's time will be reduced, Hayes has had a good past few weeks, and Wood, Vincent and Reddish also have a lot of uncertainty. It's hard for Ham to cut the rotation to 8-9 players, which is an unknown variable for the Lakers.

9. Is the operation of the buyout market over?

Is the Lakers' 6-7 wins a turning point or a flash in the pan?

The current roster may be the final roster for the Lakers, and while the Lakers are still monitoring the buyout market, they haven't seen any other viable options after signing Dinwiddie. In addition, if the Lakers give up any veteran base salary players (Reddish, Wood, or Hayes), they must also pay their salaries for the 2024-25 season, as each player has a player option.

10. Can they be the No. 6 seed in the West?

Several Lakers players said ahead of All-Star weekend that the team's goal is to be the No. 6 seed in the West and avoid the play-in tournament. The Lakers are currently 3.5 wins behind the Suns in fifth and the Pelicans in sixth, 2.5 wins behind the Mavericks in seventh, and two wins behind the Kings in eighth. It's unlikely that the Lakers will outrun all four, but they do have a chance to outrun one or two of them.

Is the Lakers' 6-7 wins a turning point or a flash in the pan?

The Lakers will have more home games in the coming weeks, with seven of their next 10 games at home and nine of their 14 games in March. However, the opponents are all strong and they will face the Nuggets, Thunder, Bucks and Timberwolves at home, and of course, the Lakers have the fifth-best home record in the West (19-9) and should be aiming for more wins. They will also face the Suns, Kings (twice), Pelicans and Warriors (three times) in the remaining fixtures, all of which are key games to move up the rankings.

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