On New Year’s Eve, the Los Angeles Lakers hosted the Portland Trail Blazers for a game that saw all the LA players return from Health and Safety Protocols and obtain a much-needed and encouraging victory.
Familiar faces showed up at the newly named Crypto.com Arena as Larry Nance Jr. and Ben McLemore, former Lakers ballers, suited up for the Blazers.
The latter in particular was signed last year by the purple and gold in the buyout market to boost the wing depth of a team plagued by injuries (not much unlike this year). In a short 21 regular-season games stint (plus an irrelevant four playoff games appearance), McLemore proved to be fairly productive and a nice pick up for LA, averaging eight points in 17.5 minutes per game on 36.8% from three.
The sharpshooter looked like a lock to return given his production, price and the necessity to fit shooters around their core in the wake of the Russell Westbrook trade, but that did not happen. The Lakers went in another direction and in the offseason, Ben relocated to Portland.
For the season, he is averaging 7.8 points shooting 42.5 from the arc on 4.8 attempts, in a meager 14 minutes per game, which translates to a productive 20.1 points for 36 minutes. What these stats give away is that McLemore is being very efficient for the Blazers, providing a dangerous three-point weapon even in a very limited time.
Despite not playing for much of the first part of the season, in the last month, with a surge in COVID-19 cases throughout the league and in the Blazers locker room, his time on the floor increased and so did his production, raising to 10.2 points in 18 minutes.
Ben McLemore made his triumphant return to take on the Los Angeles Lakers.
Ben McLemore had a special treat for his former team, scoring 28 points in less than 30 minutes on 6 for 14 from the distance.
Coming off the bench, he caught immediately fire, hitting four threes in the first quarter. That is what he does. Shooting every time he gets the ball in his hands on the arc. He is been doing that for his whole career with good success.
He sent a powerful message to the Lakers, proving them they made a mistake not re-signing him back in August. They could have got a low-price commodity in him, getting much-needed three-point shooting, instead of adding other players who proved quite unhelpful.
However, things sometimes happen for a reason, and the Los Angeles Lakers are now trying to right the ship with new additions that, in the long run, could prove more effective than McLemore.