For much of the last two seasons, the Los Angeles Lakers had a glaring lack of depth, especially when it came to offensive production off the bench.
They were heavily dependent on LeBron James and Anthony Davis to carry them on a nightly basis, something which may have contributed to the multiple injuries they have suffered.
But the Russell Westbrook trade last month changed everything. By bringing back D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley, it made L.A. deeper and more balanced.
Guard Lonnie Walker IV, a starter who had been the team’s third-highest scorer over the first half of the season, was therefore relegated to spot duty off the bench, and Dennis Schroder, who had been its starting point guard, became its second-string point guard.
In addition, the deal that landed forward Rui Hachimura in January gave it a legitimate scoring threat off the bench, and the emergence of second-year wing Austin Reaves has provided a Swiss Army knife-type role player.
It has all resulted in the Lakers boasting the NBA’s third highest-scoring bench since Feb. 11 at 42.6 points per game according to StatMuse.
In Friday night’s stirring win over the Toronto Raptors, their reserves scored a whopping 61 points.
This is certainly a big turnaround from the way things were for the Lakers until recently, when they lacked any productive or reliable forwards other than James. Now, fans can count on their bench to help change the tone of a game when needed.
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