Needless to say, 2022 was not a good year for the Los Angeles Lakers. They failed to qualify for the play-in tournament in the spring, and they have started the new season 15-21, which puts them perilously close to possibly missing the postseason again.
The roster looks considerably better than it did months ago (when healthy), but it is still missing a couple of significant pieces that could make it a contending roster.
At least for now, especially with Anthony Davis out due to a stress injury in his foot, everyone will have to chip in and help the Lakers turn things around.
Right now, millions of Americans are making new year’s resolutions to lose weight, get into shape, make more money or simply find love and happiness. Here are some new year’s resolutions for each player on the Lakers roster that, if fulfilled, could help them return to the playoffs.
Stay healthy, stay a little more
James put up an incredible Decemberbut he played 36.4 minutes per game throughout that month, and overall he’s averaging 35.9 minutes a contest on the season.
With the midway point of the schedule nearing, the Lakers need to get James down to about 32-34 minutes a game the rest of the way, at least until March when they will be hoping to be fighting for playoff positioning.
Get well soon, then stay healthy
Staying healthy is at least 80 percent of the battle for Davis. He has missed 11 games so far, mostly due to that stress injury in his foot. Prior to that injury, he was playing arguably the best ball of his life and was looking like the best player in the world.
On Friday, Davis said his recovery from the injury has been going well. Will he be able to return sometime in January?
Lonnie Walker IV
Get back on track
Walker did very well in his first 23 games, averaging 16.0 points a game while shooting 47.8 percent overall and 39.0 percent from 3-point range while showing the type of consistency he failed to show in four prior seasons with the San Antonio Spurs.
But since then, those figures have dropped to 11.1 points a game, 37.6 percent and 36.7 percent, respectively.
Is Walker merely in a slump, or is he regressing to the mean?
Keep up the good work, don’t go into a slump
Reaves is having a breakout season so far. However, his last two games have been very poor, as he shot a combined 1-of-18 from the field.
One challenge for young players, such as Reaves, is consistency. He needs to make sure the way he has played in the past two contests doesn’t turn into a prolonged slump.
Be more efficient
Westbrook turned things around in the fall by accepting a move to the bench and sparking the Lakers by speeding up the pace and looking for his teammates consistently.
His shooting percentages haven’t improved compared to last season, and if the Lakers are to consistently defeat good and great teams, he will need to shoot at least 45 percent from the field more often than not.
Other than that, Westbrook has made an inspiring turnaround, not just on the court but also with Lakers fans.
Be a little more aggressive
Schroder started the season slowly, but he picked things up in December, averaging 11.6 points a game on 45.7 percent overall shooting and 34.0 percent from downtown.
As long as Davis is out, the Lakers will need a little more offense from Schroder, who has a career average of 14.1 points per contest.
Keep up the good work
Beverley looked terrible in October and November, but in his last 11 games, he shot 54.4 percent overall and 48.7 percent from beyond the arc.
Even if all he turns out to be trade bait, if Beverley keeps playing like that, it will be very beneficial to the Lakers.
Troy Brown Jr.
Turn things up
Brown has looked like a bit of a disappointment this season, but he has hit a sizzling 48.0 percent from 3-point land in his last seven games.
If he shoots above the league average from downtown the rest of the way, he can help the team while reversing the downward trend in his playing time.
Don’t be afraid to let it fly from downtown
Bryant has been a revelation for a Lakers team that has badly needed frontcourt depth, and one very encouraging development has been the fact that he has rediscovered his outside touch.
He’s shooting 48.1 percent from downtown this season, but he’s averaging just 1.2 3-point attempts in 20.1 minutes a game.
He doesn’t need to become a high-volume 3-point shooting, but a modest bump in his attempts could help the Lakers’ disjointed halfcourt offense.
Add a 3-point shot
Gabriel is a very likable player because he plays as hard as anyone else, but the reality is that he lacks offensive basketball skills.
If he ever adds a reliable 3-point shot (it likely won’t happen until he has worked on doing so for at least one full offseason), he can increase his value moving forward.
Keep hitting from downtown
When the Lakers took Christie in the second round of June’s NBA draft, they knew they were getting someone who would bring the effort defensively and on the boards. But they had no idea he would be able to stretch the floor this soon.
Through 19 games he is shooting 41.2 percent from 3-point range on 1.8 attempts in 12.6 minutes per game. Keeping that up will be the biggest key to him earning more playing time.
Be patient until the Lakers trade him
Nunn still seems like a very capable player, but for whatever reason, he fell out of head coach Darvin Ham’s rotation very early in the season.
If some other team still sees the value in him, he could help fetch LA a player, perhaps a frontcourt player, who could help it move the needle closer to championship contention. His expiring $5.25 million contract could also provide salary cap relief.
Get back into the swing of things
Toscano-Anderson has been banged up this season, and as a result, his playing time has been sporadic.
But in two appearances since returning from an ankle injury, he has played some spirited and energetic defense while helping on the boards.
He has the ability to be the type of 3-and-D forward the Lakers badly need, even if he’s only capable of providing 10-15 productive minutes a game.
Be ready when called on
Jones has rarely played this season, and he is the equivalent of an on-call doctor who needs to be ready for that call in the middle of the night when one of his patients is experiencing a medical emergency.
With Davis injured, Jones is still getting scant playing time, as Ham has elected to go small when Bryant is resting. But the Vanderbilt University product needs to stay ready, as he is capable of giving the Lakers shot-blocking, rebounding and a vertical lob threat in spot duty.
Scotty Pippen Jr.
Work hard and light up the G League
Pippen has been doing very well for the G League’s South Bay Lakers, and he is gaining some experience that will serve him well moving forward.
Improving his outside shot, facilitating and passing could earn him a long-term spot in the big leagues not too long from.