Lakers, past and present, to grab off the wire
It’s a weird time to be a Lakers fan. Yes, they’ve got LeBron James and Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony, but somehow they suck. Now I would never use such negative words to describe an opposing team, I reserve them for cursing at the Knicks when we play bad, but ever since the NBA Bubble things have been rocky.
They won the 2019 title! But, some fans online say it doesn’t really count. Next season gets derailed by injuries to Anthony Davis, though they did have a 2-1 lead on the Western conference champs the Suns in the first round FYI, and now an injury to LeBron has them sputtering. Makes you pine for the old days of 2017 when the Lakers were young and brimming with potential.
And that’s exactly who we’re focusing on, past and present Lakers role players. Brandon Ingram, D’Angelp Russell, Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma all have broken out over the last few seasons and if given the chance, these guys could also make Lakers fans feel regret for years to come. Well, except for the one guy who is still on the Lakers, but I digress.
I know what you’re thinking and yes, he was on that “bright future” Lakers team of the late 2010s. And he keeps getting overlooked and it is driving me crazy. All this guy does is pile up counting stats. Take a look at last year’s rebounding totals and you’ll be surprised to see Hart’s name in the top 30. The only non-power forward or center who averaged my rebounds per game than him was Russell freaking Westbrook! He grabbed 8 per game! You’re telling me your team couldn’t benefit from that? He only averaged 9.2 ppg last year, which obviously isn’t great, but our guy is up to nearly 11 this year!
The one knock on him is his production can be a little all over the place, which doesn’t instill the most confidence. But I will counter by saying even if his shot isn’t falling, he still does stuff that’ll help you win. In a recent game against the Grizzlies he only had 5 points but handed out 11 assists. He’s a rare role player who helps both his real team and your fantasy team.
Oh yeah, and with Zion out for a while, there will be lots of shot and playing time up for grabs.
By the time you’re reading this it might already be too late, because THT came back from injury on fire. He’s averaging over 20 points per game and has been one of the few bright spots for these struggling Lakers. A few days ago I saw a lot of Lakers fans tweeting about Horton-Tucker’s return and how he was going to right the ship. Which I thought was overly optimistic at best, and insane at worst. But damn, this 20-year-old wing is making Lakers Twitter look clairvoyant.
This is normally where I sell you on some guy’s production and tell you if you squint, you could see some star potential. Well Horton-Tucker is making my job easy, because he’s averaging 23.3 ppg and 7.3 rpg at the moment.
The one knock on this recent hot streak is that he’s done it all in games where LeBron didn’t play. Obviously LeBron is going to have the ball a lot, meaning less shots and minutes for THT. But LeBron is getting up there in age, and I’m certain he’ll be happy to let Talen Horton-Tucker carry some of the scoring weight. And LeBron loves gassing up his teammates, just look at what happened to Alex Caruso. Speaking of Caruso…
Now that’s what we call a segue! Moving from the current Lakers fan favorite, to the old fan favorite, we arrive at Alex Caruso. I’ll be honest, from all the highlights I saw of him on Twitter I thought he was overrated and didn’t have high hopes when he signed with the Bulls. After all they’re stacked with ball-handlers and scorers, so what does that leave for Mr. Caruso?
Quick answer – someone’s got to play defense and Alex Caruso is a monster at it. He’s racked up 37 steals, at a 2.5 per game clip, which is good for second in the league in both categories. He’s an elite wing defender and on that alone will get him on the court. And when he’s on the court he does a little bit of everything, averaging 7.8 ppg/2.9 rpg/3.7 apg along with those tasty steals. Caruso knows his role is defense, but has also been an effective floor spacer and a fantastic cutter on the offensive end. The downside of knowing your role? It’s tricky figuring out when to start him. Look at his last two games – a 12/10/9/2/2 performance preceded by a 0/6/5/2.
He’s still worth considering and if the Bulls run into injury problems or he get’s hot from behind the arc he’s got the skills to be an all-around stat monster.