Los Angeles Lakers: Young Lakers benefiting from LeBron James injury

Los Angeles Lakers Lonzo Ball (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Lakers Lonzo Ball (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

The young Los Angeles Lakers are benefiting from the absence of LeBron James

When LeBron James went down with a groin injury earlier last week, all signs pointed to the worst for the Los Angeles Lakers.

The future hall of famer has put up another stellar offensive campaign so far this season and the Lakers looked like the fast-paced, energetic team the fans in Los Angeles expected. The team is just 1-4 without James the lineup with their lone win coming against Sacramento, but the injury has paved the way for three young Lakers to showcase their skills.

Brandon Ingram seems to be enjoying his third season in Hollywood as the former Blue Devil is averaging around 16 points per game with a field goal percentage of almost 47%. Ingram has become a solid isolation scorer who uses his length and athleticism to his advantage.

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With James out of the lineup, Ingram has been able to get more touches on the offensive end in the spots where he feels most comfortable. When Ingram gains a head of steam in transition or begins to post up a smaller defender, it often gives defenses trouble on a nightly basis.

Another second overall pick who is still adjusting to the bright lights of the NBA is second-year point guard Lonzo Ball. Ball was the primary facilitator on his Chino Hills High School team as well as for the Bruins of UCLA. However, this year he’s been forced to take a step back in that role with the arrival of James to Tinseltown.

Ball has been leading the charge for the purple and gold the last four contests with almost eight assists per night. Ball’s placement and change of pace has been immensely important for Los Angeles during this stretch, especially against Sacramento where Ball was just a rebound shy of a triple double.

A player who took the league by storm during his rookie season was late first round draft pick Kyle Kuzma. His fearless attitude on the court and confidence when shooting the ball is something every coach appreciates in a player, and Kuzma has shown his successful summer league in 2017 has transitioned quite nicely to the NBA stage.

Kuzma has taken the challenge of closing for the Lakers with James on the sideline and if not for a late three pointer from Bogdan Bogdanovic as time expired, would’ve been the hero against Sacramento in late December.

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The Los Angeles Lakers are certainly a better team with James on the court, as shown by their 1-3 record without him. Nevertheless, the young Lakers are gaining experience and independence with James watching from the bench. Come June, this period of time could turn out to be very useful for the Lakers as the role players will perhaps be more responsible against the league’s best competition.