- Lonzo Ball
Reasoning: Lonzo has only fallen amongst these rankings due to Luke Walton not being able to understand basic rotations and how this team could be its most successful. Lonzo isn’t being treated fairly as Luke has proven he has the shortest leash of any player in the rotation. Seemingly every time Lonzo misses one or two shots in a row Luke pulls him instead of letting him find his groove. The Lakers have been at their absolute best when Lonzo is getting rebounds or the first outlet pass, when this happens he can initiate the offense everything will be set up quicker and the Lakers will be more likely to score. Lonzo’s best trait and what will make him be a great point guard to play alongside Lebron is he finds ways to impact the game while having the ball as little as possible. Look at his 14.7% usage rate, meaning Rondo (at 17.2%) and McGee (at 19.6%) have the ball in their hands longer while they’re in the game than the starting point guard does himself. The biggest thing holding Lonzo back is Luke empowering the young star and allowing him to play a minimum of 30 minutes a night, even when he can’t buy a basket. The Lakers are 3-1 when Lonzo plays more minutes than Rondo, and they are 1-5 when Rondo gets to play more minutes, the decision is obvious Luke. May the force be with you.
Stats: 9.6 PTS 4.8 REB 4.3 AST 1.1 STL 46.2 FG% 41.3 3P% USG% 14.7%
- Brandon Ingram
Reasoning: He shows spurts of improvement, but his stats don’t show this thus far, he has worse stats and production than Kuzma even with a slightly higher usage rate and a lower FG%. He has been a more consistent scoring threat than Ball and he has at least been given steady minutes, so I’ll give him the slight edge over Lonzo thus far. Ingram should be taking a bigger step forward under James wing than he has, both Lonzo and Ingram could benefit from the type of aggressiveness Kuzma shows on a nightly basis. Ingram’s suspension also doesn’t help his case here, he’s just simply done less in less games and doesn’t seem to be better than last year in anyway but maybe defense (maybe, Lakers haven’t played much D). His shooting splits have gone down across the board he isn’t rebounding at a higher rate or making passes that lead to assists despite his 23.0% Usage Rate. He should still be allowed to play a minimum of 34 minutes a night, but Ingram needs to show more the rest of season, now that we are nearly a 1/8th of the way through this NBA season.
Stats: 15.5 PTS 3.8 REB 1.2 AST 0.8 STL 1.0 BLK 47.4 FG% USG% 23.0%
- Kyle Kuzma
Reasoning: The most aggressive Laker on a team that includes Lebron James. He may not score more than the King, but there doesn’t seem to be a shot Kuzma doesn’t like. He seems to shoot virtually every time he touches the ball and if he continues to shoot nearly 50% from the field he should continue to do so without hesitation. In his second season he seems to be the player most ready to play alongside Lebron even if Lonzo may prove to be the best fit long-term. Kuzma is just doing more with time on the court than Ingram and I believe by season end he may be the lone player outside of Lebron to average 20 points per game for the Lake-Show. Kuzmania is real, and it is just getting started; if he keeps this up over the rest this season and his career he may just get his name in the rafters beside Kobe, Magic, and so many other Laker greats.
Stats: 19.0 PTS 5.1 REB 1.6 AST 49.0 FG% USG% 22.7%
- Lebron James
Reasoning: Coming to the Lakers so late into his career may not have been the wise decision for LeBron James, even as one of his longest supporters and fans I’m forced to judge him differently. LeBron has a heap of young talent around him that can easily win games if he showed the desire to transform his game. What were the rumblings we all heard in the early season and pre-season about Lebron playing Power Forward? Yeah, he may be the bigger guy on courts in some lineups and guard the opposing teams PF, but he isn’t starting at the 4. Nor is he morphing his game to be more of a traditional post presence, with so many trust worthy ball handlers LeBron should be posting up more possessions and playing on the wing less. I also thought LeBron was coming to LA to put on the show of shows in front of all the stars and celebrities, but instead were getting this same conservative 27-8-8 efforts. These may be MVP stats, but there can also be a case made he should be doing more, and his shooting has been sup-par by his standards.
Stats: 26.8 PTS 7.6 REB 7.7 AST 1.7 STL 0.7 BLK 50.3 FG% 28.8 3P% USG% 29.4%
- Javale McGee
Reasoning: JaVale is the league leader in blocks through 10 games and don’t expect that to slow down anytime soon, as the Lakers seem inept and incapable of playing real perimeter defense. This is allowing McGee to get a whole lot of attempts at blocking shots even in a 3-Pt shooting league, his defensive IQ has left some to be desired at moments, but you could hardly tell with how well he is positioning himself to block shots. On the offensive end he is the benefactor of playing on a team with more playmakers than they have minutes for, allowing him to play every minute of the game with a good passer. This may not make him the MVP, but what he can provide for the Lakers and how awful they are when he leaves the court on both ends is either proof of his value for this team or proof on how bad they needed Tyson Chandler to backup McGee. Either way through 10 games McGee has been the biggest factor in the Lakers limited success this season, if he wasn’t on the team they may just be 2-8 (with wins over Mavs and Suns) or worse. In all of the Lakers wins in this early season is either when McGee scores 20+ or has 5+ Blocks in a game.
Stats: 14.4 PTS 7.5 REB 1.3 AST 0.9 STL 3.4 BLK 61.4 FG% USG% 19.6%
Least Valuable Laker- Luke Walton’s Rotations.