Sitting 14th in the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Lakers have struggled to make an impactful start to the new NBA season.
When looking at Los Angeles’ roster, it’s hard to pinpoint one specific flaw with how the team has been constructed. Rather, there are multiple issues the Lakers’ front office needs to address.
According to Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley, one of the internal fixes that can be made is if the Lakers reduce the amount of playing time Patrick Beverley is currently getting if they want to strike a balance with their rotation and begin stacking up wins in the chase for a playoff spot.
“A 27.8 shooting percentage would be alarming from three—but that’s actually Beverley’s overall conversion rate. Beyond the arc, he’s down to just 23.5 percent. That’s untenable. As much as the Lakers might think they need Beverley’s point-of-attack defense, they can’t afford to have him suck the air out of their attack. If he’s not spacing the floor, then he’s adding nothing on offense, which makes you wonder how he’s seeing the fifth-most floor time on the team (28.1 minutes per game),” Buckley wrote on November 17.
In his 11 games for the Lakers so far, Beverley has provided 4.6 points, 3.7 rebounds, and three assists per game while shooting 23.5% from the p[perimeter and 35% from two-point range – although his perimeter defense has been at its usual high standard.
Beverley Recently Praised LeBron’s Leadership
When the Lakers acquired Beverley during the summer, they did so knowing he wasn’t going to be an offensive weapon for them. Instead, Los Angeles was banking on his point-of-attack defense and outspoken personality to help galvanize the locker room.
However, it’s clear that LeBron James remains the most influential player within the Lakers organization, and on November 13, following a Lakers victory over the Brooklyn Nets, Beverley spoke to the media regarding the positive influence LeBron’s voice had on the team during a pre-game practice session.
“We had a phenomenal practice, probably one of my best practices yesterday. You gotta give a lot of credit to LeBron. He started to get on guys the right way, and guys in the locker room responded. So, credit his leadership. Obviously, there are things that you guys don’t see in the locker room, but he was a big voice in practice yesterday, which kinda led over to our energy, and game planning, and focus for this game today,” Beverley said.
Still, Beverley’s voice will be an important factor for the Lakers roster, as he will endeavor to keep everybody on the same page and pulling towards the goal of making the playoffs and attempting a championship push – however unlikely that might seem at the moment.
LeBron Could Request a Trade
Unfortunately for the Lakers, minimizing Beverley’s playing time isn’t going to do much in the way of stacking wins on the board, in fact, it could lead to even more losses due to a decrease in defensive intensity. The truth is, the Lakers’ problems run deep, and probably can’t be solved by one of two ancillary moves. The roster needs an overhaul.
It makes sense then, that a Western Conference Executive, who spoke with Fox Sports’ Ric Bucher, pinpointed the Phoenix Suns as a potential destination for LeBron, should he or the Lakers front office decide to call time on their partnership.
“A Western Conference scout pointed to the Phoenix Suns as a far more ideal candidate should they find themselves once again falling short this season in their quest for the franchise’s first championship, after reaching the Finals two years ago and then getting knocked out in a seven-game, second-round series by Luka Dončić and the Dallas Mavericks last year,” Bucher wrote on November 11.
Despite his age, LeBron has continued to prove he’s among the best players in the NBA this season, providing the Lakers with averages of 24.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 6.9 assists per game while shooting 45.7% from the field and 23.9% from deep.
Still, if Rob Pelinka and Jeanie Buss deem this Lakers team to be miles away from a contending team, it would make sense to cut LeBron loose and let him continue challenging for championships elsewhere in the NBA.