When we talk about what makes the Lakers good this season, every discussion starts (and usually ends) with Anthony Davis and LeBron James. Maybe the team’s defense gets a little bit of airtime, but that mostly gets credited to Davis or new head coach Frank Vogel anyway.
Davis wants to change all that.
After the Lakers beat the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday night, Davis was asked if the Lakers’ bench players have gotten enough credit for their play this season, and he said no, they haven’t. He’s not sure why.
“I mean, these guys have been kicking the other teams’ bench’s...” Davis said, trailing off while deciding if he wanted to curse “...blank word the past couple games. That’s their mindset. ‘We come in, we’re not gonna let the other team’s bench beat us.’
“Any time they been able to do that, we’re an even better team. The past couple games, they’ve been all pluses in the plus-minus category when they come in the game.”
Davis isn’t the only one to want to give the Lakers some more credit for their depth of late. Vogel recently praised this team’s number of talented players, calling them “the most competitive, talented defensive roster” he’s ever coached. And to both of their points — and especially considering how many questions there were about the Lakers’ bench coming into the season — the reserves have actually been pretty good so far. Not at the top of the league, but totally acceptable given the resources the Lakers were working with to fill out their team after trading for Davis.
The Lakers are 16th in the NBA in bench points per game (35.9), eighth in bench field goal percentage (45.8%), ninth in 3-point percentage (36.3%), ninth in rebounds (13.8), 10th in assists (8.9) and eighth in blocks (2.2), according to NBA.com. And as far as defense goes, the league’s stats website also shows that of the Lakers to appear in more than two games, the top seven in defensive rating are bench players.
And while defensive rating isn’t necessarily a perfect way to describe which players are the best defensively — it’s kind of hard to argue Davis himself isn’t the Lakers’ most valuable defender in all actuality — it still displays that the reserves at the very least haven’t completely crapped the bed on that end.
So maybe Davis and Vogel are right. Maybe the Lakers’ backups do deserve a bit more credit. Or, at least some credit for their contributions. So here you go, guys. You got a whole blog post. And if you keep up this level of play and the team keeps winning, you’ll surely get a whole lot more.
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.