Yesterday, Darius Soriano of Forum Blue & Gold wrote an article detailing what we might expect from the Lakers to make up for the loss of Matt Barnes. How does it affect the them?
Obviously, this will be an issue. Barnes, despite being a reserve, has been the Lakers most productive small forward this season outpacing Artest in most statistical categories per 36 minutes while also having a higher PER. Barnes has also played very good defense holding the man he's guarding to below league average PER when playing both small and power forward...
...And with Barnes out, those minutes will need to go to another player and the hope will be that the production will be replaced by whoever fills in.
Will Ron Artest play more minutes? Should we see some Kobe Bryant at small forward? It's something the Lakers do often, and Kobe supposedly wants more minutes anyway. How about Luke Walton or rookie Devin Ebanks? Fortunately for the Lakers, they enjoy an embarrassment of riches in versatility. Darius gives us a clue on how the minutes may be divvied up between the options, and may be correct in his conclusion about the reality of the situation.
In the end, Barnes being out is a blow to the Lakers but not an insurmountable one. Small forward was a position (along with PG) that was giving the Lakers low-ish production and that was with Barnes' contributions. So while the team may suffer some with him out it's tough to say that it's going to matter a great deal considering the team wasn't relying on that position for stellar play each night.
The Lakers will miss his toughness, grit and versatility, but hopefully he can return in time to be in peak form heading into the playoffs. What do you think?
Make sure you head to Forum Blue & Gold to read the whole article.