Meet the Biggest Unknown Factor in LA Lakers Season Turnaround

The Los Angeles Lakers' season has been tumultuous, but they've shown improvement since starting 19-25.

While many will point to Steve Nash's fractured fibula as the primary reason for the Lakers' early-season struggles, an injury to the team's backup point guard, Steve Blake, didn't help matters either.

Blake saw action in the team's first few games, but an abdominal tear that required surgery sidelined him for nearly two months.

After missing 37 games, Blake returned on January 29 against the New Orleans Hornets, a game the Lakers won 111-106.

Since Blake's return, the Lakers have gone 18-11 (through Saturday afternoon) and currently find themselves tied for the eighth seed in the Western Conference.

Blake's return has been a welcome one and not just because it gave the Lakers improved depth at point guard. His steady perimeter shooting has helped the Lakers' floor spacing and bolstered the team's rather pedestrian second unit.

Shooting 41.6 percent from three and 43 percent from the field since returning (per's stats database) from abdominal surgery, Blake has added another dimension to the Lakers' perimeter attack.

And now that Metta World Peace has been lost (via Los Angeles Times) for what appears to be the remainder of the regular season, Blake will be relied upon to produce more for the depleted Lakers.

While Blake's 41.5 percent shooting from the field isn't mind-blowing, it's much improved over his averages (35.9 percent in 2010-11 and 37.7 percent in 2011-12) during his first two seasons in L.A. In fact, the 41.5 percent Blake is shooting from the floor this season will be the fourth-best mark of his career, if he can sustain his current pace.

Examining Blake's shot chart (via, it's clear that he's become more comfortable knocking down threes from the wings. Blake has converted on 50 percent of his three-point attempts from the l...

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