Summer League Notes, And More

Kurt —  July 15, 2005

For the next week, posting will be very light from me as I go on vacation with my family. Where we’re headed is not completely unplugged from the world (although I will be somewhat), so if there is a big Laker story I’ll try to get a post up. In the short term, here are notes and thoughts from the Lakers SPL game against the Miami Heat Wednesday night, plus some other stuff. If anything big happens put a comment in, that will be the first place I’ll look.

• Wednesday night against the Heat, Andrew Bynum had his best game by far. He seemed more comfortable in the offense and was “thinking” less about what to do, and that led to a much more aggressive Bynum on the court. He pushed back hard trying to get post position (he still needs strength, but he’s using leverage better). He fought harder on the boards, he had 10 total but five on the offensive glass. He had two blocked shots — one of a Qyntel Woods who was trying to dunk (one of the best plays of the SPL so far) and another all the way out near the three-point line on a rotation. He was more aggressive looking for his shot and was 6 of 10 from the field.

It’s still too early to say what we’ve got in Bynum, but his growth through the first four games gives me hope that he does have a high basketball IQ, is a good study and a hard worker. After the improvement I’ve seen, I’ve become more optimistic about his future.

• Now to the Lakers’ past at center — Vlade is retiring due to his back problems. Henry over at True Hoop has a good piece up about him, talking about what a good person Vlade was. I, for one, will miss him. Update: Laker management is saying that no decision has been made. Believe what you want.

• Here’s my concern about Ronny Turaif — his hands. He seems to fumble half the entry passes he gets in the post, good ones or not. The quicker guys he’s facing come this fall will exploit that more. He and Mihm in the game together would be an all bad-hands team inside. It’s something correctible, but certainly an area he needs to work.

• A lot of people who have been to the SPL are higher on Smush Parker than I am. Don’t get me wrong, I like him, but he’s only 2 of 9 so far from three-point range (although his overall eFG% is a very healthy 56.3%). Other parts of his game are good — he’s made good passes and mainly good decisions, and his defense has been solid. But, folks, this is the summer league, so we’re judging him against flawed competition. Give him an invite to camp and see if he can earn a spot as a backup point, if not send him to the NDBL as insurance. He’s been a nice find, but this is a league of end-of-the-bench guys and wanna be end of the bench guys — let’s not go overboard and say Parker should be a starter or even have a guaranteed NBA contract.

• By the way, Sasha Vujacic is 5 of 11 from three point range so far in the SPL, with an eFG% of 51.6%.

• After watching him in person, a lot of teams are going to regret not taking Wayne Simien earlier in the draft — the Heat got a steal. He is very polished on offense and a solid defender who can step in and play now. Those concerns about whether he was 6-7 or 6-9 were very overrated.

• Devin Green has been an interesting case on the Laker SPL team. He’s a very smart player, always seemingly in the open space, making a good cut to the hoop or in the right place for the rebound. At the end of the night his numbers are good, but he does it quietly. He doesn’t stand out athletically, which makes me think that at the NBA level (where good players are both smart and athletic) he will struggle, but he’s going to be a good fit for a minor league or European team. He may get a Laker camp invite, and I have to say I’m impressed. He strikes me as the guy who some day might make the best coach of any of his teammates.

• With Chucky gone, the Lakers really need to land Antonio Daniels, or what else is there at the point? He visited the Lakers practice facility and with team officials on Tuesday, however on Thursday his agent said Daniels is fond of Portland coach Nate McMillan (I can’t see Portland happening, by the way, they don’t need a starting point guard). If the Lakers get just one free agent deal this summer, let this be the one. Please.

• It took me a while to find the good beer at the Summer Pro League. You can’t go up to the food stand, you need to go to the “beer tent” area, where you can get bottled beer like Corona or Heineken, as opposed to the draft domestic swill in the rest of the place.

• By all reports, Kwame Brown didn’t like playing with the ultra-competitive, yelling at teammates Michael Jordan. Kobe is the same way. Has Kwame matured, or his skin thickened?

• Another Kwame note from one of the DC-based guys I talked to: One prevailing theory is he plays harder when he gets more offensive touches. If that’s so he may not like it in LA any more than Washington because Kobe and Lamar are still options 1 and 2. I’ll be curious to see what Kwame’s number of shots/percentage of team’s shots are. (By the way, the other theory is he gets more touches when he plays harder.)

• In a surprise to no one, Stu Lantz will be back as a color commentator, but now along side Joel Meyers.

Kurt

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