Kobe’s shooting like it’s 2006 and he’s ready to bring the Larry O’Brien trophy back to Los Angeles. Andrew Bynum has played with more spring in his step than when he spun past Shaquille’ O’Neal during his rookie season and Lakers fans all around began to notice the fighter in Bynum.
The Lakers are playing well, and with their thrilling overtime victory against the Utah Jazz it seems as if the team is finding its rhythm. While Steve Blake has not had many major game changing plays during these past few games, his play and contributions are crucial to the flow of the Lakers offense. Blake’s quiet numbers are steadily improving, and if it continues he could overtake Derek Fisher’s starting role.
Blake’s play has been inconsistent during his time with the Lakers, but compared to last season he has greatly improved. He averages eight points a game as opposed to the previous season’s four points.
While coming off the bench Blake averages around 24 minutes per game, a slight increase from last season. However, the bigger difference between this season and the previous one is Blake’s confidence level. He is more comfortable with the team this year and looks to shoot the ball more. No longer is Blake worried about being the new teammate, instead he is more assertive, and it’s paying off.
While Blake is shooting the ball more it is apparent his play at home compared to on the road is inconsistent. Blake shoots 41 percent at home compared to 38 percent on the road. This certainly is not a huge difference, and in this early point of the season, where most of the Lakers games have been at home, there is still time for improvement.
However, consistent shooting from Blake, whether it’s in the Staples Center or the Rose Garden, is necessary if he wants to gain the starting role. Championship teams must win on the road, and the Lakers – along with Blake – need to play better away from home.
Similarly, the Lakers are fourth in the NBA for turnovers averaging 16.6 per game. Blake has turned the ball over 13 times this season and 11 of those turnovers were committed at home. The Lakers need to control the ball better, and if Blake can decrease his turnovers at home he’d have a better chance to assume a starting role.
Despite Blake’s inconsistency he manages to fit in where needed during the flow of a game. When the Lakers played Phoenix, Blake went scoreless but added eight assists to help Kobe go off for 48 points. Moreover, much to the dismay of Lakers fans, Fisher is just not the player he once was. Still, Blake’s numbers are steadily creeping up on Fisher’s:
Derek Fisher: 4.3 ppg | 4.4 apg | 2.2 rpg | 1.7 TO per game | 34.4% FG Pct | 13.3% 3Pt Pct | 24:3 min per game
Steve Blake: 7.3 ppg | 2.8 apg | 2.1 rpg | 1.1 TO per game | 40.2% FG Pct | 35.4% 3Pt Pct | 24:3 min per game
Therefore, since they play an equal amount of minutes, statistically it seems it would only be a matter of time before Mike Brown chooses to start Blake over Fisher. Of course, that is if no big trade happens for a player like Deron Williams or Kyle Lowry. Blake also needs to stay healthy this season, which might already be in jeopardy as Blake injured his sternum on Tuesday.
The great bulldog Fisher has led the Lakers for many years, but it seems that era could be coming to an end, and Blake just might be the player to assume his role. Lakers fans will always have an affinity towards Fisher and that is okay, but this could be the season for Blake to flourish as a Laker and become the starting point guard.