One of the Los Angeles Lakers' biggest weaknesses in 2012 was the complete lack of depth coming off the bench.
Call it the Lakers' bench stench.
But heading into 2013 the stench has been eliminated with key offseason signings, giving the Lakers a strong second unit as they gear up for a championship run.
Here is my analysis as a Lakers fan of how the 2012 bench compares to the newly improved 2013 second unit.
Point Guard - No Change (Steve Blake)
Steve Blake continues to man the backup point guard position and he is what he is - a steady veteran who rarely makes big mistakes but does little to make the Lakers noticeably better. Blake's averages over the past two years with the Lakers are about what to expect in 2013 - 4.5 PTS, 2.6 AST, 37% FG, 36% 3PT.
Andrew Goudelock played roughly 10 minutes per game with limited productivity as a rookie in 2012. Free-agent signee Jodie Meeks will represent a huge upgrade at the guard position. Over his last two seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers Meeks started 114 of 140 games and averaged 9.5 points on 42% shooting, including a solid 38% from the 3-point line. Additionally, Meeks' 235 3-point field goals over the last two seasons were 14th most in the NBA, giving the Lakers a weapon from downtown they sorely lacked in 2012.
This is the spot where the Lakers' bench has taken a step backward. Matt Barnes has not been re-signed despite his solid 7.8 points on 45% FG, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.0 assists. Barnes was the Lakers' best reserve player in 2012. Devin Ebanks has been in the league two years and in 2012 averaged 4.0 points on 42% shooting, 2.3 rebounds, and 0.5 assists. The Lakers have taken a step back in the small forward spot.
Power Forward - Major Upgrade (Antawn Jamison over Troy Murphy and Josh McRoberts)
At age 36 free-agent signee Antawn Jamison is still a very productive player, averaging 17.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.0 assists last year with the Cleveland Cavaliers. His 40% FG in 2012 was far below his 45% career average and should rebound with a better supporting cast in Los Angeles. The combination of Murphy and McRoberts was largely ineffective, and Jamison will be a major upgrade.
Power Forward-Center - Upgrade (Jordan Hill)
After trading for Jordan Hill midway through the 2012 season, the Lakers played the big man a total of 82 minutes in the regular season. But Hill blossomed in the playoffs, averaging 4.8 points and 6.3 rebounds in just 18 MPG leading to the Lakers re-signing him after the 2012 season. Expectations for Hill are high going into 2013 after his strong postseason play, and while the name on the roster will not change, the productivity should.
Andrew Sweat is a die-hard Lakers fan. For more from this author, visit Andrew's archive or check these out articles:
- Sports & Recreation
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Jodie Meeks
- Steve Blake
- Andrew Goudelock