Before starting on this, let us please drop the notion of “tanking.” The players are not playing to lose, and fans are not watching games to make sure the Los Angeles Lakers lose. So, this is not meant to be another expression of why bad news for the Lakers is actually good news in the long run with an eye on the draft.
On Sunday, Nick Young was limited in his return. Although that does not mean the shooting guard was entirely ineffective, he was not quite back into the rhythm of the game. That statement can be verified by the fact that Young had three turnovers and only attempted four shots, well below expectations.
The problem with Young playing on Tuesday against the Indiana Pacers--other than it makes no sense to play an injured player at this point in a lost season--is that the Lakers are actually a better team on the floor without the services of their slowed down sixth-man.
Prior to the additions of Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks, acquired via a trade with the Golden State Warriors at the trade deadline, the Lakers would stand a better chance with an injured Young than without. However, Brooks has already displayed the ability to score off the bench to help alleviate the pressure of scoring without Young.
Further, the Lakers’ second unit seemed to function better with Bazemore playing alongside Brooks, Jordan Farmar, Jordan Hill and Chris Kaman. This unit played all 12 minutes of the best quarter of the Lakers’ season at the end of the win over the Boston Celtics. In that quarter, the Lakers outscored their opponents by 20 points en route to an exciting comeback victory.
Also, Bazemore is a better defender than Young, and offensively, the kid is averaging 16.0 points in his first two games with the Lakers. For the purposes of Tuesday’s game against the Indiana Pacers, the Lakers are better off playing without a slowed-up Young.
Obviously, “Swaggy P,” Young’s catchy nickname, will be back. Off the bench, he has already provided enough evidence that he deserves a raise next season--with the Lakers or somewhere else. However, if Bazemore continues to perform with the second unit, the Lakers may consider pushing Young to prove his play as a starter before season’s end. But that is a discussion for another day.
For Tuesday in Indiana, the Lakers are better off without Young.
Still, that does not mean the Lakers are expected to suddenly win. The Lakers, the team with the worst record in the Western Conference, are taking on the Indiana Pacers, the team with the best record in the NBA, in Indiana, the site of the best home record in the league.
Young or no Young, the Lakers did not expect to have much of a chance on Tuesday evening. However, 48 minutes must be played, and conceivably, anything can happen.
Reminder: Tip-off is 4 pm Pacific time.