Preseason games are not about winning and losing, although winning is nice. They are really about seeing players and how they fit in your system. Here are some notes from the first preseason game (which I was able to find and watch on NBA League Pass), but be sure to take them with some salt as it is just one preseason game, which will be long forgotton by Christmas.
â€¢ Smush Parker was the surprise starter along with the expected four of Kobe, Lamar Odom, Kwame Brown and Chris Mihm. Donâ€™t read too much into that â€” Smush wonâ€™t be starting Nov. 2 in Denver. However, it is a sign that he is well ahead of others fighting for a roster spot as a backup guard. Smush was not great but solid, looked good shooting inside the arc and did hit a three (4 of 6 overall from the floor), had a running battle with Barron Davis (which Davis won but Smush did well enough to get Davisâ€™ dander up) and Smush did look a lot better than Tony Bobbit (who was with the team last season).
â€¢ The triangle offense looked horrible in the first quarter and rarely looked smooth throughout the game. Spacing was off and players appeared to be thinking about their next step (and were tentative when they did make a move) rather than just reacting naturally. Kwame was particularly guilty of this. (Kwame did not impress me much in terms of shooting from the field [2 of 7, one of those makes a dunk, plus he drew a couple fouls] or on defense either, but that could be byproducts of not feeling comfortable.)
The offense didnâ€™t really start to flow until Brian Cook, Slava and Devean George came off the bench â€” all three guys with prior triangle experience.
In the second half the Laker starters looked more comfortable in the offense, but they ran the triangle to set up more weak side isolation plays for Kobe and Lamar than the strong side sets they tried to get going in the first half. At times the triangle was ignored for high pick-and-roll plays with Kobe. Throughout the game, and particularly early, the Lakers were not making good entry passes to the post.
â€¢ The full-court pressure, trapping defense backfired early when Barron Davis was in the game â€” he pushed it passed the first wave and set up a lot of easy transition baskets. Part of that was the Lakers missing a lot of shots early, but the pressure did little on a good point guard and strong backcourt team. However, the second and third string of the Warriors had more trouble dealing with the pressure, at times.
â€¢ A good sign is that the Laker won the turnover battle, something that rarely happened last year. The Lakers biggest team defensive problem last season was being last in the league in creating turnovers (just 12.5% of opponent possessions when the league average was 15.5% and Memphis led the league at 17.4%). That at least appears to be improving.
â€¢ Lamar as the point/forward led to some good transition opportunities â€” he ran the floor with his head up and pushed the ball for a few easy fast-break baskets. I think heâ€™s going to like (and hopefully flourish) in his new role in the offense.
â€¢ Kobe looked in mid-season form. I will add he appeared more comfortable when he got the ball out on the wing and could attack as opposed to when they tried to post him up.
â€¢ A sign of what the Lakers current makeup and offense can do to give the team an advantage â€” at points Barron Davis was forced to cover Devean George, at which point the Lakers wisely tried to post George up.
â€¢ Iâ€™ve never been a big fan of George more because I think a lot of Laker fans, as well as Laker management, overrate him. But heâ€™s a solid, average player who should have a nice year coming off the bench for this team. He had that kind of a nice game in this preseason opener.
â€¢ Speaking of guys Iâ€™ve been hard on in the past who played better than expected â€” Brian Cook. He played both inside and outside and looked decent as the backup four.
â€¢ As mentioned in the comments on the last post, Luke Walton injured his hamstring and thatâ€™s not a good sign because that injury can linger a long time.
â€¢ Baron Davis is a great player and fun to watch. How well Golden State does this season will largely depend on how healthy Davis stays (and secondarily, how healthy Richardson and Foyle stay).
â€¢ Signs youâ€™re not going to make the team: Laker camp signee Adam Parada’s name was spelled Perada on his jersey.
â€¢ Mihm struggled at times covering Adonal Foyle, but thatâ€™s not a shock. Mihm was hustling, diving on the floor at points, and showed the effort that earned him love from the fans last year.