Even before the Los Angeles Lakers step onto the Staples Center hardwood for their regular season opener against Houston, they've already been mangled by a slew of debilitating injuries. The latest example of this particular fate is connected to their point guard position, which has been a sore spot for years. While the Lakers were shocked with the news of Steve Nash's season-ending injury, the team's depth at that particular position was even more demolished when training camp invitee turned preseason starting point guard Ronnie Price knocked knees with Darren Collison during a preseason game against Sacramento.
While Ronnie Price may just have a bone bruise, Byron Scott has already mentioned the need for the team to consider adding another player that can help patch up the team's already-barren back court depth. Since the start of the regular season has arrived, there isn't exactly a bevy of available players that the team will be able to pick from the waiver wire. There is potential that the Lakers could look for trades, but the Lakers don't particularly have enough tantalizing assets they'd be willing to part ways with to get a significant player (i.e. Rajon Rondo).
Despite the lack of realistic available trade options, there are a handful of decent, young point guards that could help out the team's damaged back court. While these players probably won't turn around the team's trajectory, they'll able to help patch up the huge hole that was left with Nash's injury and any future setbacks for their guards.
Out of the available point guard talent, perhaps the most intriguing name would be former Piston guard Peyton Siva. Even though Siva didn't have the most impressive rookie season with Detroit, he does have skills that could transition nicely into Byron Scott's offensive system. For example, Siva works well in pick-and-roll sets as both a distributor and scorer. As a distributor, Siva does a terrific job at quickly being able to work the ball to a fellow teammate. During his stint with the Ft. Wayne Mad Ants (Detroit's D-League affiliate last year), Siva averaged 6.4 assists per 36 minutes.
As a scorer, Siva actually showed the ability to score from the perimeter, which wasn't apparent during his time at Louisville. Siva shot 50% from the perimeter on 4.4 three-point attempts per game,
Besides his touch as a perimeter threat and distributor, Siva's most impressive talent is as a defender. On the defensive end, Siva is an absolute hawk that constantly applies pressure to the opposition. Siva stays in front of his opponent because of his tireless effort. The correlation of all of those traits allowed him to average 2.8 steals per 36 minutes.
Even though Siva's perimeter defending abilities could immediately benefit the Lakers' second unit, there are other options that could help the team on the other end of the court, like former D-League All-Star Seth Curry.
Seth continued to show the scoring knack that has pushed his older brother to NBA super-stardom during his initial season with the Santa Cruz Warriors. Whether it was in catch-and-shoot situations, isolation, or off-screens, Curry exhibits an ability to consistently score from most areas of the court. Similar to his All-Star brother, the main basis of Seth's offensive arsenal is his perimeter shot. On seven three-point attempts per game, Curry shot an extremely-good 37% shooting percentage. That's a high percentage considering the volume of threes he was putting up with Santa Cruz.
Here's a closer look at his offensive talents:
Besides his perimeter shooting, Curry has a quick first step which has allowed him to be a great cutter. While his slight 6'1 frame does tend to hinder his ability to score around the rim, Curry has a nice floater which allows him to work around his finishing ability.
Most of Curry's value rests with his shooting, but he has continued to make strides as a facilitator. During his lone season with Santa Cruz, Curry had an above-average 2.05 Ast/TO ratio. Even though that number might not seem great, that's still an improvement from his time at Duke, where he was exclusively a spot-up shooter.
If the Lakers are in pursuit of a facilitator that can work with their 2nd unit, then some of the better options include Larry Drew III, Will Cherry and Keith Appling.
Among that trio, perhaps the most ideal fit would be Keith Appling, who had the opportunity to spend training camp with the Lakers. The 6'1 Appling continued to make strides as an all-around player during his stint with Michigan State, but the most noticeable improvement was his work as a distributor. He had a 2.11 Ast/TO ratio, which is better than the likes of Shabazz Napier, Marcus Smart and Russ Smith.
As a scoring threat, Appling was much more of a mixed bag. Even though he improved as a perimeter shooter (35% from beyond the arc), Appling has a very vanilla playing style as he struggles to create his own shot. He shot just 24% off-the-dribble, which will need to improve tenfold if he wants to be a reliable scoring threat.
Despite the fact that Appling may be a better fit because of his familiarity with the Lakers system, former Sioux Falls Skyforce guard Larry Drew is also a strong candidate. With Sioux Falls, Drew continued to stand out as a consistently solid guard on the offensive end, with his more impressive work coming as a facilitator. Drew had a 2.73 Ast/TO ratio. By working off pick-and-rolls with current Heat center Justin Hamilton, Drew was able to use his first step to cut and kick it to a penetrating Hamilton or an open perimeter shooter.
Drew was a solid ball-handler that worked around the opposition to penetrate the rim. From inside the restricted area, Drew shot 61%, consistently scoring around defenders. Drew also shot 41% from three-point range, which exceeded Kevin Murphy and Troy Daniels, who stood out as the D-League's best scoring threats.
A sleeper pick out of the trio would be Will Cherry. After a forgettable four-year stint at Montana, Cherry started to really stand out during his brief run with the Canton Charge. With Canton, Cherry exhibited a knack for distributing the ball to his teammates, whether it would be in transition or half-court sets. Even though Cherry has an aggressive approach, he was able to prevent himself from being a turnover machine and had a solid 2.38 Ast/TO ratio.
Seriously, check this pass out:
While he was able to elevate himself with Canton, Cherry really shined during his time with the Cavaliers' Summer League team. The combination of a quick first-step and an aggressive approach allowed Cherry to continuously push the ball into the paint and score around the rim. He had two 21-point games, ending Summer League play averaging 12.8 points and three assists per game while shooting 52 percent overall. Cherry really struggled from three-point range, however, shooting just 25 percent.
Among the five players profiled, the Lakers have a variety of different options they could use to help fill in the gap for now. Out of those names, Peyton Siva might be the best option, considering the potential for him to immediately come in and be a solid perimeter defender for the second unit. Siva is a solid pick-and-roll guard, which should work nicely with his potential pairing alongside forwards Ed Davis and Julius Randle.
As for the remaining quartet of talent (Curry, Appling, Cherry and Drew), they all have the traits that could have a positive benefit on the team's battered and bruised back-court rotation. No matter who the Lakers pick-up, there's an immediate need for help at the point guard position, and these players represent some young, cheap options for Los Angeles.