Fast Break

Kurt —  September 21, 2005

A handful of notes and thoughts this morning:

• Apparently we should all be fans of the Fort Worth Flyers, the Lakers new D-League affiliation (shared with Golden State, Dallas and Portland).

While we all know this is a developmental league, what kind of players would best benefit from the development down there, and who are coaches going to want to go down? Will it be higher draft picks that need work but are considered potential core players by a team, ala Andrew Bynum? My guess here is no, that coaches will think that for most “projects” daily practice against NBA players and more one-on-one coaching (hello Kareem) will be a faster path to improvement than playing more in somebody else’s system at a lower level of competition.

So what kind of player will coaches send down? My guess is lower first round and second round picks who need more professionalism and some motivation, as well as playing time. Likely not four-year college guys but guys who skipped college or played just a year or two but may not be ready for the NBA. Again using the Lakers example, Ronny Turiaf would not have been sent down (you know what you’d be getting, if he could play) but Von Wafer is a much more likely candidate.

• Slava Medvedenko has been playing for his national Ukrainian team in the ongoing European Championships. I haven’t seen any of the games, but the book on Slava via people and Web sites who are watching sounds very familiar — he’s shooting well and scoring 13 points a game but doing little else well. He’s not the best player on his own squad.

By the way, the other rumor out of this tournament is that a slightly-injured Tony Parker had been very unimpressive until he played well in a win against Serbia yesterday.

• In news of interest primarily Kevin Pelton, the Lakers have signed Will Conroy to a contract for training camp. His is a “make good” contract saying he gets the chance to make the team, the same deal that Smush Parker and Von Wafer have been given.

For those that don’t remember Conroy (a University of Washington grad) from the Summer Pro League he was a solid defender and a good floor general with the offense but his shooting was questionable and the Lakers certainly had better prospects at the point. Conroy is just one of the five guys coming to camp likely to be cut, but he will land on his feet in the D-League or Europe because he has skills that could be of use in the right system, just not likely the NBA. (By the way, if I really wanted to pick on Kevin I’d talk about how much my Irish are going to beat the Huskies by on Saturday.)

Also signed as training camp fodder by the Lakers was Jack Michael Martinez from the Dominican Republic.

• In case you didn’t see it already, Kobe Bryant sat down with the media this week, but said little new of much interest. He said what we can expect to read a lot from him and Phil Jackson because the mainstream media will not stop asking the question — they can get along fine in a business-like setting because they both want to win.

Between now and the middle of the season expect to read and watch as many stories about the Kobe-Phil relationship in the media as the Brad-Angelina relationship, and far more than stories about the Lakers’ on-the-court issues and performance.

Kurt

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3 responses to Fast Break

  1. it seems like the lakers must be feeling pretty good about smush playing well as the backup point. i forgot what your opinion was about him, but i guess he’s making the team probably, considering the point guard needs? i figure he’s better than the conroy guy, since it seems now like they’re signing a whole bunch of players to fill up training camp.

    before i’d say that bynum should go down there for a year. however with all the praise i’ve seen thrown his way i think he’ll be coming in for a few minutes each half to play some defense and rebound.

  2. The D-League is going to be interesting, though I don’t think it starts until the season after this one. I’ve heard that teams can send players down up to 3 times a year, so one possible model would be to have someone like Bynum down there playing regularly for experience and bulking up some and then bringing them up for awhile for one-to-one tutelage and trying them out against NBA players. Of course, it’s tough for the Lakers to do any of that with their current lack of big men. The way it stands now, I’d see Bynum start to get some random minutes at the beginning of the season then maybe work his way up to a regular single-digit MPG by the end of the season – the Lakers just don’t have enough bodies.

    One other really good point about the D-League was brought up by Sean Deveney on the Sportingnews site. Since the D-League teams are shared by several NBA teams, it’s hard to tell who would be given priority playing time. If Bynum and Biedrins are both on the D-League team, their respective teams would want them starting and getting lots of PT, but who do you give it to? And is the goal to develop players or win games, meaning maybe some older players with less up-side get more PT? Overall I think it’s a good thing, but lots of details to be worked out still and it’ll be fun to see how the NBA teams try to game the system.

  3. I don’t know if I would have started reading this blog if I knew you were a Notre Dame fan. …

    The Fighting Irish may win Saturday, but UW and our African-American football and basketball coaches will have the moral high ground. :)

    (Fortunately, last week’s 28-point win over Idaho was the only UW game I’ll take in this season.)