Winners and losers from the Lakers’ 2021-22 preseason



The Los Angeles Lakers wrapped up the 2021-22 preseason with a dismaying 0-6 record.

The context differed in every game as the Lakers had to shuffle the rotation frequently because of injuries or rest allotted to the new star trio in LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook.

But the preseason also presents an opportunity for rotational players and fringe players to compete for a roster spot or a chance at being a rotational fixture with the stars.

Before injuries derailed their preseason, Malik Monk and Talen Horton-Tucker were two emerging guards that impressed through three games.

But other players couldn’t take advantage of the battle for minutes.

Here are some winners and losers for the Lakers after the preseason:

Winner: LeBron James

(AP Photo/Randall Benton)

James played only three games, and if it wasn’t for his performance against the Sacramento Kings, he might not have been a winner.

Against Sacramento, James dropped an effortless 30 points in 29 minutes on 12-of-20 shooting to go with six assists and six rebounds.

He got into a rhythm at the perfect time before the regular season begins.

Loser: Wayne Ellington

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The Lakers brought in Wayne Ellington to light it up from beyond the arc. He shot 42.2% from deep on over six attempts last season in Detroit.

In four preseason games, Ellington shot 25% on 4.0 attempts. His field-goal percentage was 28.6% on 5.2 attempts, and he averaged 5.5 points per game.

Combine that with his defensive limitations and it was a preseason the veteran must quickly put behind him to stay in the rotation.

The shooting should come around, though, as he’s developed into a steady shooter throughout his long career. He’s still adjusting to a new offense and new teammates.

Winner: Malik Monk

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Malik Monk played the first three games before being ruled out with an injury for the final three, but he showed enough to earn a spot as a winner.

The 23-year-old guard who signed for the veteran minimum is already outplaying his contract. He was the top scorer for the Lakers in the first two games with averages of 12.7 points on 47.1% 3-point shooting on 5.7 attempts.

Monk’s ability to play on and off the ball could be a factor in whether he becomes a starter.

Loser: Russell Westbrook

(AP Photo/Randall Benton)

Westbrook bounced back with a solid outing against the Kings, but he didn’t play like he usually does in his first three games.

He averaged 5.8 turnovers, which was more than his rebounds (5.5) and assists (5.0). He shot 35% overall on 10.0 attempts and 60% from the free-throw line on 2.5 attempts.

Westbrook has been known to have slow starts with new teams since he has bounced around the last three years, so the Lakers must hope he continues to improve.

Winner: Austin Reaves

(AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

The undrafted rookie already earned head coach Frank Vogel’s trust and praise from James. That’s a solidified winner for this ranking.

Austin Reaves benefited from the backcourt injuries that transpired as more opportunities opened up to display his high IQ on both ends of the floor.

His shooting numbers of 38.9% overall on 6.0 attempts and 34.5% from deep on 4.8 attempts don’t look appealing, but the confidence and quick release were on display. He also put up multiple last-second heaves against the Kings that ruined his numbers, but there’s a player in him. The passing and defensive rotations caught the eye.

Loser: Kendrick Nunn

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Kendrick Nunn had some flashes, but he had his struggles; an injury also set him back towards the end of the preseason.

He shined as a rebounding guard and a secondary creator in certain lineups, but he can certainly do more than he displayed.

The 26-year-old guard shot 36.8% overall on 9.5 attempts and 27.8% from deep on 4.5 attempts. Those shouldn’t stay over the course of the regular season, like Ellington and others, but it’s not the production Nunn has shown before. He should still be a key member of the rotation because of his versatility.

Winner: Talen Horton-Tucker

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Horton-Tucker’s thumb injury derailed his final three games, but his first three games highlighted why the Lakers re-signed him to a hefty deal.

The shot creation, catch-and-shoot 3-point shooting (36.4% on all 3s on 3.7 attempts) and use of his 7-foot wingspan to his advantage on defense were among the traits that stood out from his performances.




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