At the All-Star Break, the Los Angeles Lakers find themselves in unfamiliar territory. The Lakers are sporting an 18-35 record, but have been particularly bad since December 20th when the team hit the 13-13 mark and Kobe was set to return. A 5-22 record since that time have taken this team from playoff hopeful to high lottery pick in two months. It was a rough first half of the season and the Lakers won’t have anyone representing the team during All-Star Weekend. A recovering Kobe Bryant has been replaced by one of the young stars Kobe was hoping would take his spot, Anthony Davis. Almost every other season, the Lakers’ MVP is Kobe Bryant, but this year Bryant has only appeared in 6 games due to injuries, leaving the team MVP up for grabs.
Pau Gasol, C – 17.0 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.45 BPG, 19.0 PER
Pau Gasol had been playing significantly better since returning from the viral infection that plagued him early on this year. The big man with triple-double potential seemed to be back, at least on the offensive end. Despite constant, persistent trade rumors, Gasol has played at a high level re-upping his trade value with the deadline approaching on Thursday. It is conceivable the Spanish big man has played his last game in a Lakers jersey. The Suns appear to be the most likely destination with their plethora of picks and expiring contract of Emeka Okafor, but don’t be surprised if the market gets hotter for Gasol as the deadline approaches. Gasol has a chance to be the Lakers’ first half MVP and never play for the team again.
Nick Young, SG – 16.9 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 1.5 APG, 34.9% 3-point shooting, 14.6 PER
Swaggy P has been far and away the Lakers most entertaining player this season. From the spectacular plays to the boneheaded ones, every game with Nick Young is an experience. At any given moment, Young is likely to start dancing around and hoisting a turn around three pointer that hits. He is just as likely to attempt a 360 layup just because he can. But that’s what makes Nick who he is and that is why Lakers fans have embraced him. The showmanship style of Swaggy P is something the Lakers had been missing. Nick Young is a player who was built for the early-2000’s NBA, where one-on-one play was at its peak. If you factor in Young’s contract, a miniscule $1.1 million, he certainly seems to be the most bang for your buck.