With a 20-21 record through the first half of the NBA season, it has been a very lackluster campaign for the Los Angeles Lakers. This is a team that was highly regarded as one of the top-tier contenders before things officially kicked off, but they have been highly plagued by the curse of mediocrity.
All things considered, their inconsistent displays of energy and overall passion are deserving of somewhere around the C territory in terms of how things have gone. If you are measuring their output with their expectations leading up to the regular season, you could very easily drop that grade to an F.
So with things subtly flying off the rails for the 2023-2024 Lakers team, how have things panned out for the individual players through the first 41 games?
Lakers player grades: The honor roll
LeBron James = A+
Father Time has once again been unable to defeat the product of Cleveland, even to the extent that it looks like James could quite feasibly have another few seasons of high-level basketball left in the tank.
His unbelievable performance thus far yielded him the honor of being crowned the MVP of the NBA's inaugural In-Season Tourney. That may not translate to a regular season MVP acknowledgment, but he has undoubtedly been the MVP of his team early on. Finding any glaring cons in his play so far could take hours, even days.
Anthony Davis = A
AD has been almost equally as impressive this season, with perhaps the most impressive area of his game being in the health department. Davis has missed just two games so far, and his availability has been crucial for this team on both ends of the floor. The only thing halting him from earning an A+ has been his inability to fully evidence his ability to carry on the torch without LeBron. He had a chance to support that cause in the recent showdown against Utah but was unable to persevere.
However, he does get brownie points for claiming responsibility for that loss (something he has shown a willingness to do during his time with the Lakers). That is the action of a true leader, and right now AD's main objective should be proving that he can capably take control of the direction of this franchise.
Taurean Prince = B+
If you need any evidence that Prince has done his job with the Lakers, just take a peek at how many games he has started in comparison to how many games he has played (39/39). The coaching staff was faced with a bit of a dilemma in the preseason when it came to deciphering who the 5th starter would be. Flash forward to the midseason point, and Taurean Prince may now be the only Laker aside from LeBron and AD that has a firm hold on his starting position.
Austin Reaves = B
Since shaking off some early-season struggles, AR has rediscovered the individual rhythm that he exuded in the second half of last season. He still has a ways to go if he is going to get back on the All-Star trajectory that many assumed he was on, but a strong second half of the 2023-2024 campaign would do wonders in terms of erasing any doubt tied to a potential plateau.
Rui Hachimura = B
Hachimura has missed about 1/3 of the team's games through the first half of the season, but he has once again been a steady contributor off the bench in the games which he has played. He is again scoring the ball efficiently (11.8 points per game on shooting splits of 49.0 FG%/37.0 3%/76.8 FT%), but many fans would probably agree that they had hoped for a bit more from Rui this season. He has not been bad whatsoever, he just has not been spectacular either.
D'Angelo Russell = B-
There is a strong chance that D'Lo is suiting up for another team in the weeks to come, and if he were to be traded it would more than likely be primarily for salary-matching purposes. With that being said, it is truly puzzling how the combo guard receives so much hate when in all reality he has not been bad and can actually contribute on the floor for any team he plays for (as he has done his entire career).
Russell has once again hit shots at a high level (39% from beyond the arc on 5.5 attempts per game) and served as a smooth secondary playmaking option next to LeBron (2nd on the team to James in assists-per-game at 6.1). A lot of fans would probably be happy to see his name included in a trade, but those same fans would also probably grieve his absence later on if the team hit another rough patch offensively as they did to begin the season.