After every game, we will be bringing you three things we learned the previous night about the Los Angeles Lakers. This time, we give you the three things we took from the Lakers’ 138-115 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Christmas Day.
1. Diet LeBron and AD
That is my little nickname for what Dennis Schröder and Montrezl Harrell can be for this Lakers’ team. The Lakers never really had playmakers they could trust on a consistent basis last year aside from LeBron James and (to a lesser extent) Anthony Davis. However, Rob Pelinka may have not only found a third playmaker to join the superstars, but two as Schröder and Harrell have both shown the ability to create.
In the Lakers’ first two games, Schröder has averaged 16 points, seven assists, and seven rebounds per game while Harrell has averaged 19.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game. They had 18 and 22 points last evening, respectively.
The two players’ successes so far have allowed LeBron (30.0) and Davis (30.5) to average a very low amount of minutes per game, which seems to be a goal of Frank Vogel’s as he wants to keep the two fresh for another championship run after starting back up again so soon after their 2020 championship.
2. Kyle Kuzma may go underappreciated all season
Lakers fans’ perception of Kuzma has always been…varied. It seems as though Twitter is always patiently waiting for a Kuzma brick to pounce on him while he may be having a good all-around game aside from whatever play just happened. There hasn’t been much discussion about him in the first two games of this season, which almost always indicates that he is actually playing pretty well. Looking at his statistics, this does seem to be the case.
Kuzma is currently averaging the 5th-most minutes of any player on the team, while also averaging the 5th-most points per game so far, only behind the four players discussed above. His offense will definitely be welcomed at any point during this season (he’s made four of his seven three-point attempts so far), but he will raise this team’s championship pedigree by playing good defense. He appears to have done just that so far, having the second-best Defensive Rating on the Lakers of players who have played at least 10 minutes per game.
3. Marc Gasol’s struggles continue as he gets comfortable
Gasol had a very poor first game as a Laker on Tuesday, having a nearly blank stat line after committing his fifth foul very early on in the 3rd quarter. That, combined with the Clippers pulling away in the middle of the second half, caused Gasol to not get back into the game following his fifth foul. He did not get into foul trouble on Christmas Day, but he did only score two points (no made field goals) with zero assists. The assists are shocking, as Gasol’s best offensive trait is his passing which he flaunted many times in the Lakers’ four preseason games.
Gasol spoke about how it will take time for himself to get comfortable with Vogel’s defense, but he may need just as much time getting comfortable with the team on the offensive end. He’s starting for the team for a reason, so expect the Lakers’ ceiling to be raised even higher once he gets acclimated with all of the moving parts of this team.