While watching the Los Angeles Lakers play in their new offensive system, you can’t help but notice that they are slow on getting back on defense. There are a lot of reasons for that, but it is possible that forward Devin Ebanks can help the team out on both sides of the ball.
Ebanks has shown at times that he can make plays when given the opportunity to play. With Mike Brown, Ebanks minutes were very unpredictable. One game he would play 30 minutes and the next he would only play 12. As a young player, it is very difficult to perform at your best when you don’t know how much time you are going to get.
Having watched Antwan Jamison this year, I am not convinced that he can be the player that the Lakers had hoped he would be. Ebanks is a better defender and is much more athletic than Jamison is. When Mike D’Antoni was coaching the Phoenix Suns he had Shawn Marion, an athletic small forward who guarded multiple positions and thrived in his role. If given the opportunity, Ebanks has a similar ceiling, but he has to get the chance to perform on the court.
I am fully aware, and disappointed, that Ebanks caught a DUI charge earlier this month and it certainly isn’t helping his current situation. However, Ebanks is in a contract year, so he needs to be on the court. His three point shot has improved and he is a guy who can help the team defensively. The Lakers are most vulnerable in transition, and a huge reason why is that most of the players aren’t athletic or young enough to keep up with the other teams. There are certain positions on the court that you need guys that can get up and down the court at a fast past, which is something that the Lakers are currently lacking.
It seems like the Lakers are trying to move Ebanks rather than play him. I understand not playing him for the DUI, but this team needs athletes that know how to play. If the Lakers are going to do well this year, they must have a reliable bench. Right now their bench looks just as bad as it did last year, and the team’s aging starting five needs to play less at this point in the season to stay healthy down the stretch. Hopefully D’Antoni can give all the guys on the bench a chance to prove what they can contribute, because the combination of Jamison and Jodie Meeks simply won’t get it done.