The Los Angeles Lakers are playing better than many expected but there is still one glaring issue on their roster. Luol Deng.
The Lakers spent a ton of money hoping that Deng will be the veteran presence that would help lead the young Lakers into the playoffs. But, early in the 2016-17 season, Deng has played more like a rookie than a 12-year vet. Deng has not been worth the money or minutes that Luke Walton has given him. As it stands now, the Lakers would be in the playoffs if the season ended today and that’s no thanks to the production of Deng.
Deng is averaging six points and six rebounds in 24 minutes of action. While the Lakers have gone with more of a 9-10 man rotation Deng is still supposed to be the steady hands that guide this young team. The Lakers, with their youth, are more of a fast break team with a scoring average of 110 points per game. This pace does not suit Deng but it does play right into the hands of the rookie, Brandon Ingram.
Ingram has struggled as well but his struggles may be due to pressing. The rookie is learning a new role as a bench player and sitting behind another player that’s struggling may force one to press even harder to prove his worth to the team. Walton needs to make a move, not for the betterment of the rookie but for the team. The Lakers are scorers, and slashers but they need him on the defensive side of the ball. This is where Ingram will come in handy. His long arms and youth will help keep players like Kevin Durant and LeBron James in front of him while making them work on the defensive side of the ball too.
Switching Deng to the second unit will make the team that much stronger in late game situations when most teams go on a run. A unit led by Jordan Clarkson, Lou Williams, and Deng may be a bit too much for any team to handle. Ingram will bring an athletic element to the starting 5 that’s missing with Deng in the lineup. D’Angelo is a good PG but he doesn’t have that above the rim potential that Ingram does. Nick Young is more of a perimeter threat and the post is held down by the non-moble, Mozgov and the flexible, yet foul-probe, Julius Randle.
Adding Ingram will bring more explosiveness to the unit that’s lacking in that department. Ingram is the way to go if the Lakers want to build off their early season success.