Fast Break

Kurt —  August 8, 2005

Not a lot of new news to talk about. Add in the fact that I’m moving this week and my world seems to be in boxes so don’t be surprised if I can’t get new stuff up every day this week. At least I’m not going to go Keith Hernandez on any of you and ask you to help me to move.

Some quick thoughts:

• The Lakers’ schedule for next season is out.

They open the season on the road Wednesday, Nov. 2, in Denver. The home opener is the next night at home against Phoenix — just the way you want to open the season, a back-to-back with the second game against a team trying to run you into the ground.

Here’s the good news — 10 of the last 13 are at home, with some of those games very winnable (two against New Orleans, for example). If the Lakers are in a tight race for a playoff spot, it’ll be good to have those games at home.

• There has been some talk in the comments about Odom playing some four next season, which is likely, the question is how much. We know Odom can score from either position, but what about his defense? Let’s look at the stats (via 82games.com) for him at each position the past three seasons, with his three different teams.

While playing the three, Odom had one good defensive season in Miami sandwiched between poor ones in Los Angeles. Last season, Odom played just 6% of the team’s minutes at the three and allowed opponents to shoot a high 54.1%. Those opponents averaged 5.1 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 22.3 points per 48 minutes. His opponents PER was 17.5 (very close to what he did at the four last season, by the way).

In Miami, Odom played 23% of the team’s minutes at the three and held opponents to 39.6% shooting, giving up 7.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 15.7 points (and an opponents PER of just 11.3). With the Clippers in 02-03, he played 35% of the team’s minutes at the three and allows opponents to shoot 52.5%, with 8.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 22.1 points per 48.

Now let’s talk about the four, where Odom had a decent year with the Clippers but struggled the last two years. Last season, Odom played 50% of the Lakers’ minutes at the four, opponents shot 48.6% but pulled down 11.6 rebounds, had 3.5 assists and 19.1 points per 48. His opponents PER was 17.6. While in Miami the numbers were similar — opponents shot 49.1%, grabbed 11.3 rebounds, had 3.2 assists and scored 20.1 points per game. The one good year with the Clippers he played just 6% of the team’s minutes at the position. That season opponent fours shot jut 39.4%, had 8.3 rebounds, 3 assists and 18.1 points per 48.

Some general observations. First, for the most part, Odom’s defense has been below average regardless of position. Second, at the four he seems to give up a lot of rebounds but keeps the shooting percentage against in the high 40s, as opposed to better shooting by threes against him. (It should be added that for the most part, teams in the league have pretty high opponent PER at the four because of the depth of the position league wide, in that context Odom’s numbers were pretty average last season.)

At the three, I’m not sure exactly what to make of the good year in Miami but the two off seasons in the West — was it a matter of matchups? The East (at that time) being weaker than the West? Or can he play good defense at the three but the only times he got the chance last season were in bad matchups?

I will say this, wherever he plays, if the Lakers are going to make the playoffs Odom is going to have to play good defense. That will be a key.

• By the way, the idea of Odom playing some center was thrown out as well. He has played a few minutes each year (1% of team totals, basically) at center and has been crushed each time (for example, his opponent PER last season at center was 23.8 — basically the equivalent a center having a Yao Ming like game against you every night). He’s not strong enough to play in the middle.

• Hoopsanalyst talks about the Lakers picking up Kwame in the latest transactions wrap (by the way, he has a smart take on the Clippers signing Cuttino Mobley, too):

I frankly wonder how well he’ll do with Kobe and Phil Jackson, neither of whom have much use for pouters (albeit for different reasons). On the bright side, Kwame’s trend line was going straight up before 2004-05 smacked him down. Watching Brown, I don’t see him as a great athlete (his block and steal numbers are not very impressive) and I believe that his upside is more of a bruising forward a la Otis Thorpe.

Kurt

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