Phoenix at L.A. Lakers
Time: 8:30 PM CT (NBA LP)
Spread: LAL -7.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
LAL TEAM NOTES:
The Los Angeles Lakers are still without LeBron James, and it has won just four of its last ten, the team is now occupying the No. 9 spot in the Western Conference overall standings. The Lakers are 17-17 against the Western Conference. The Lakers have lost its last three.
With James unavailable, doing all the little things becomes ever more important. Kuzma can be transcendental in his own right at times, but without James, the Lakers lack a star, a No. 1 option, and it is now relying on the power of youth and chemistry to do the job.
Kuzma, for his part, has been great. The 6’9” forward has averaged 19.5 points per game and 6.8 rebounds over his last 10 games, and his 41-point eruption in the 113-100 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Jan. 9 was impressive. Kuz shot 16 of 24 in the game while knocking down 5 of 10 from three. He is unarguably the Lakers best offensive player outside of James, and now is his time to shine. Getting the best of Paul George (who presumably will cover him in this game) would be one more notch to Kuzma’s belt, but the Lakers are double-digit underdogs against the defensive studded lineup of the Thunder.
PHX TEAM NOTES:
The Phoenix Suns are just 11-40 this season, possessing a bottom-third defense that allows 115.5 points per game while the Suns manage to score just 105.8 itself, ranking worst in the Association. The point differential is -9.7.?Phoenix has a few great top talents, but it cannot seem to find much rhythm or continuity on the defensive end.
Devin Booker is averaging 24.3 points per game and 6.8 assists, but his efficiency has been questionable with a PER Of just 18.4 due to his 45 percent shooting and 31 percent three-point shooting.
TJ Warren has rounded into one of the better undersized forwards in the league, but his tough defense has gone unnoticed on a team so poor in that respect. Warren also averages 18 points per game in just over 30 minutes a night.
The Suns have been quite pleased with No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton. Ayton looks seasoned and is a good rim protector. He is averaging 16.4 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.77 blocks/steals per game.??The Suns ideally would like him to swat more shots, but his overall defense has been solid for a rookie.
Outside of that top-3, the Suns start to fall off….
The biggest hole is at point guard where Phoenix recently cut journeyman Isaiah Canaan. And Josh Jackson has fallen out of the starting lineup, seeing just 17 minutes a game to average seven points per contest. The Suns have some nice pieces intact at the top of the roster but need depth, a point guard, and defensive identity, where it currently has none save its sieve identity in giving up so many while scoring so few itself. Phoenix is a disaster entirely, but it will try to build around its two studs– Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton–with yet another high draft pick in 2019.