Chucky, Chucky, Chucky. After reading a more complete version of his comments in the Daily News account of his â€œKobeâ€™s the GMâ€ outburst it sounds like Atkins was speaking out of frustration. And he should be frustrated. I think Chucky has gotten a taste for starting and he likes it, his egoâ€™s grown and he is chaffing in the triangle and with the offense running through Kobe. I think this paragraph from the LA Times sums it up:
Atkins, who has a year left on his contract after this season, said it was “hard to play with anybody that’s a star” when asked if it was difficult to play with Bryant.
Problem is Chucky, as much as your offense has been better than expected, if the choice is running the offense through you or through Kobe, youâ€™re going to come up short every time. I would be happy to see him come off the bench, but his defense as a starter (18.5 opponents PER) is at the heart of what has done this team in this season.
Nobody asked, but if I were GM for a day, Iâ€™d want to build more toward what I saw from Philadelphia last night â€” an athletic team that likes to push the ball up the court. That means no Phil and no triangle. (Whatever direction the Lakers go in the off-season the problems they need to solve are the same, itâ€™s just what kind of players you get to solve them.)
Some components of a running team are already here â€” Kobe can run (and would be the focal point of the half court sets), Lamar and Caron can run, Mihm runs pretty well for a big man, Sasha might serve well in a backup point role next year (he just needs time on the court to get used to the NBA).
What we would need to get is a real running point guard, someone who can push the ball, make smart decisions and plays defense. Second, we need a four who can get defensive rebounds and make smart outlet passes to start the break. Most importantly, we need a coach who can get these players to figure out that successful running teams start with good play of the defensive end.
Not that all that is easy to do or can happen in a year, but if youâ€™re going that direction there are players available this summer that can be a good start.
A few quick thoughts from the loss to the Sixers:
â€¢ I would have been part of the chorus of boos at the end of the game.
â€¢ I really harped on the Lakers turnover disparity early in the season but got away from that because I was tired of typing it every game. Last nightâ€™s showing seems like a good time to mention it again. For the record, the Lakers are losing the turnover battle by an average of 3.2 per game this season. Other teams are averaging 3.6 more shots per game than the Lakers (that is factoring in the Lakers getting to the free throw line more than their opponents). Itâ€™s not a coincidence those numbers are similar.
â€¢ Great to see Mihm and Grant start along side each other â€” and it worked. The pair helped shut down the inside penetration of Iverson and it gave the Lakers a chance to win. Mihm had 17 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks â€” weâ€™ve said all year that with a real four next to him his game will get better. I like that starting lineup, just pull Butler off the bench and start Odom at the three and they might score some points as well.
â€¢ How is Sasha the only guy who doesnâ€™t get off the bench? What was he going to do, turn the ball over and cost us the game?
â€¢ The Lakers clearly focused on shutting down Iverson â€” he shot just 17.9% (eFG%) and the rest of the team shot 53.2%.