On Tuesday evening, the Los Angeles Lakers are in Minneapolis to take on the Minnesota Timberwolves.
In an odd twist, the Lakers could have all three long-term injured point guards join the ranks on Tuesday night, as Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni sounded confident that Jordan Farmar, Steve Nash and Steve Blake would all be available after Monday's practice. However, the Lakers will be without Pau Gasol, as the Spaniard stayed home due to his groin injury. Gasol’s injury means the likes of Chris Kaman, Robert Sacre and Jordan Hill will all get extra time on the floor.
One of the primary challenges with all the point guards coming back on the same day is keeping standout performers like Jodie Meeks and Kendall Marshall involved. Meeks and Marshall have been impressive of late, but both players should see their minutes drop significantly.
Over the month of January, Marshall started every game and averaged 11.9 points and 11.5 assists in 38.5 minutes per game. Most impressively, Marshall’s shooting was defined by shooting 44.1 percent from behind the arc. If that number held for the season, Marshall’s unorthodox shooting style would put him sixth in the league in three-point accuracy.
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On the season, Marshall’s 9.6 assists would place him second in the league behind only Chris Paul. However, Paul’s season average of 11.2 assists per game is still below Marshall’s January average of 11.5 assists per game. Respective of the results, Marshall has been putting up elite numbers of late.
With Farmar, Blake and Nash back, Marshall’s minutes will drop, but the extent of that drop remains to be seen. Meeks is also in the same boat as Marshall.
Meeks is averaging a career-best 14.7 points per game. Along with that, the 26-year-old is also shooting a career-best 40.6 percent from long-range. Meeks has expanded his game this season, but he has always been defined by his three-point shot, and he’s shooting that shot better than ever.
For Meeks, the Lakers’ struggles and injures hide the fact that he is having a career season. He is averaging career-highs in points, steals, assists, rebounds, three-point shooting percentage, three-point attempts, three-point makes, field goal percentage, field goal attempts, field goal makes, and minutes per game.
Over the month of January, Meeks averaged 18.9 points per game and shot at high percentages from everywhere on the court. However, the trio of point guards coming back at one time should push Meeks’ minutes down. Blake will likely play some shooting guard on Tuesday if he gets the final clear.
Putting the magnifying glass down, Marshall and Meeks’ numbers fail to hide the Lakers’ 12 losses in 15 January games. Blake, Nash and Farmar may not match the statistics immediately, but their returns should help in the only statistical category that matters: wins and losses.