The LA Lakers started the 2020-21 NBA season with hopes of claiming their second-successive title but have looked off-color in recent games. The absence of key players like Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder have hurt the purple and gold, who have won only three of their last ten games.
The LA Lakers have been heavily reliant on their talisman LeBron James during this period. With other players not stepping up to the fore, the LA Lakers have started to look like a mediocre team.
Of course, the injury-depleted Lakers have had to face some of the top contending sides like the Brooklyn Nets and the Utah Jazz during this period. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Frank Vogel's side lost to both teams despite LeBron James waging a lone battle in the two games.
Five players who need to improve their performances to help the LA Lakers successfully defend their title
As seen in the first half of the tournament, teams who have had solid support from role players have fared well.
The best example of that would be the Utah Jazz, who have the best record among all 30 teams at the moment. For the LA Lakers to keep up with the other contending sides, they will need all their players to play at a decent level.
On that note, let's take a look at five players who have underperformed for the LA Lakers this season and need to step up after the All-Star break to help the reigning champions successfully defend their title.
#5 Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has shown he can play at a high level this season, but he needs to be more consistent.
His numbers as a starting guard have been quite disappointing this season. KCP is averaging 8.7 points, 1.4 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game.
Caldwell-Pope is a decent shooter, so he should be more confident in his approach to make more attempts, as the LA Lakers are struggling offensively.
#4 Talen Horton-Tucker
The young star has a lot of potential but needs to bring more control to his game.
Talen Horton-Tucker has produced decent numbers in a few of his LA Lakers outings and has also been trusted with valuable minutes lately. But he needs to work on his game and increase his output going forward.
Tucker is averaging 7.2 points, 2.4 rebounds and two assists per game so far. If he rediscovers his pre-season form, the LA Lakers could become a huge threat in the second half of the season.
#3 Alex Caruso
Alex Caruso hasn't really clicked at all for the LA Lakers this season at all. The All-Star break might have come at the right time for him to assess his game and work on areas of improvement going into the second half of the season.
Caruso is averaging a mere 5.8 points, 2.4 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game this season.
Similar to KCP, Caruso is a decent shooter as well but needs to back himself more so that he can create more impact for the LA Lakers coming off the bench.
#2 Wesley Mathews
Wesley Mathews was brought into the LA Lakers side to provide solid performances and also help out with his experience.
But that hasn't been the case. In the last six games, the veteran guard has scored only three points. He hasn't made any significant impact coming off the bench or while starting for the LA Lakers this season.
For any championship contending side, their experienced players are the ones that play a huge role. So Wesley Mathews will have to step up to give the LA Lakers that extra push against teams who have incredible squad depth.
#1 Marc Gasol
Marc Gasol was signed by the LA Lakers to provide them with some valuable experience and extra depth in the frontcourt. But he has massively underperformed this season.
The veteran center is averaging only 4.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and two assists per game. Gasol has been poor in the paint as well and has been overpowered by his counterparts on several occasions.
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He needs to be contributing more to the LA Lakers in terms of shooting from the deep and from under the post. Last season, the likes of JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard did a decent job for the LA Lakers in rotation.
Gasol will be expected to produce similar performances once the regular season restarts after the All-Star break.