Lakers point guard Steve Blake is out another 6-to-8 weeks because of arthroscopic surgery on a torn abdominal muscle, an announcement today that wasn’t unexpected (he hasn’t played since Nov. 11) but leaves Los Angeles treading water at the position. Earlier today Steve Nash said he expects to be out another 10-14 days with a broken bone in his leg. With no relief expected for at least a week, what is the prognosis for the Lakers?
Viewed in the aggregate, without either Nash or Blake as options, it doesn’t matter much who plays because the position has already been by far the Lakers’ worst this season. Point guards as a whole this season for L.A. have the team’s worst PER and allow opponents’ point guards the best PER per game. Darius Morris and Chris Duhon have run point in 11 of the 13 most-used lineups. Duhon is the clear candidate who should earn the lion’s share of the minutes until a replacement is healthy because of his positive effect, with a plus-4.5 points per 100 possessions when he plays compared with Morris’ minus-11.3.
Duhon’s role has undergone a strange transformation in just four months. He was a throw-in player to make contracts work in the Dwight Howard trade from Orlando this summer, but with Blake’s surgery he won’t be coming off the floor much until Nash returns. Sticking either at guard is, on one hand, the personification of plugging a hole with a flimsy, disposable piece of gum. It also doesn’t signal the end times for L.A. because of the collected talent around them. Kobe Bryant will likely handle the ball more often and it’s fine that he does: His usage rate is his lowest since 2003-04. With Pau Gasol out of the picture offensively either through his own struggles or a benching, more of the offense would flow through Bryant anyway. He might as well bring the ball up the court now a majority of plays because the offense will start with him, either way.
All these talented parts and pieces need an effective organizer, of course, a problem given Mike D’Antoni‘s lineup tinkering. That’s where a point guard comes into play. One, for the near future, who won’t be named Nash or Blake. Time for the reserves to put on their big-boy pants.
What do you think?
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