Fast Break

Kurt —  November 4, 2005

Just a few quick thoughts 72 hours into the NBA season.

• We’re just 2.4% of the way into the Laker season, so I’m trying not to get too high over one quality and exciting win, or too low over one ugly loss.

• Did last night’s loss to the Suns remind anyone else of last season’s Lakers? The ones that didn’t play good defense, didn’t rotate on defense, couldn’t stop the pick-and-roll, didn’t create turnovers and when they got in trouble went to isolation plays? If I have confidence in one thing this season it is that the current coaching staff will not let that kind of sloppy play go uncorrected or unpunished (play poorly and you get benched now).

• Smush —WOW! He has been impressive those first two games, shooting much better than expected from the outside (and on three pointers) and playing solid defense against two of the best backcourts in the West. Against Phoenix, guarding Nash in a losing effort, he was +4 for the night (while playing 37 minutes). As Christian said in the comments of the preview, if Smush can play at 75% of that for the season it will be big for the Lakers. Heck, even Kevin Pelton likes him (same comment thread). My one concern: There are moments he seems to get a little overconfident and tries to do too much — he needs to stay within himself. Take the open threes, keep moving on offense and keep playing pesky defense and he will be a big fan favorite.

• Phoenix still isn’t very deep — only two guys off the bench played more than 15 minutes — but the guys who are coming in are very efficient so far. And that was a perfect use of Brian Grant — six minutes against the opponent’s bench players (and he was +8 in that role).

• There is little about TNT’s hoops coverage that doesn’t annoy me. Does the first game of their doubleheader ever end on time? Don’t we always miss the start of the second game (like last night)? Why do they have this problem and not so much ESPN? Kenny and Charles, need I say more? Plus of I like the pairing of Marv Albert and Steve Kerr, so they stick Reggie Miller in the middle of them for a Pacers game? Courtside Times readers apparently feel the same way.

• What can stats do for you? It’s the first part of a very interesting three-part discussion of the advantages and limitations of the new breed of basketball statistics over at CourtsideTimes.net. This is put together by the best in the business, Knickerblogger.

• How poorly is Slava playing right now? In the European Championships just concluded before the season he was scoring a poor 82 (points per 100 possessions used) and giving up 121, shooting the ball on 33% of his team’s possessions (a higher rate than Kobe last season) and allowing opponents to shoot 51% against him. Thanks to holymoly from APBR for putting together the stats for Euro 2005 and posting them.

• What do preseason games tell you about a team’s regular season? Not much at all. But that doesn’t mean this 82games.com story isn’t a good read.

Kurt

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13 responses to Fast Break

  1. Smush had another great dunk last night. I think I’m in love. Great to see LO breaking out…finally!

    Yeah, it’s only been two games, but Kwame’s performance so far has to be considered disappointing so far. He has seemed almost completely lost on offense and defense. Here’s hoping he can make some rapid improvement over the next few weeks…

  2. The defense was horrible. Obviously.

    But what really bothered me was the last 2 minutes on offense. After James Jones’ 3 to push the lead back to six the Lakers became completely unhinged. The following 3 possessions…Odom 3. Miss. Kobe 3. Miss. Odom 3. Miss. Game over. Odom, who otherwise had a great offensive night, shot 2-8 from downtown. He has absolutely no business shooting 8 3′s anytime against any team.

  3. It’ll be more than a 3 part series – for sure. :-)

  4. Off the ball defense stinks!

    Don’t know what i like most about Smush: the ball hawking defense, the solid outside shooting, or the part down the middle.

    Agreed w/ P Henry that those last possesions were blown oportunities. Too early to shoot threes. I think the first one came with just under two minutes to play.

    How many games until Kwame relaxes?

  5. yeah, last night’s game induced flashbacks to last year. like i said before, if they have a sub .500 month where the losses look like this and not like denver, that’d be the code red.

    sigh. no smush does NOT have to score 15 points a game for the lakers to have a good season. look how well it’s working now. even if he doesn’t average 10 but keeps up the same style of play, is able to contain guards like he did last night with nash, a big season can still happen.

    if he keeps playing like this and the other parts that are supposed to work better don’t produce more and make his scoring stats slide, there’s no way in hell they will.

  6. I’m glad everyone else noticed the number of and poor timing of the threes as well. I had a note I didn’t put in: Against the Suns the Lakers took 23 threes, one above their game average of last season (22.1).

  7. When was Slava ever good? I haven’t checked his statistics, but as far as I could remember, all Slava was good for was shooting and he wasn’t particularly impressive at that either.

  8. Gatinho,

    Doug Collins said the same thing about Kwame. He gets too excited when he gets the ball and ends up out-of-control and/or off-balance.

    But, he’s such a tease.

    When was the last time you saw a 275 lbs. 7-footer playing defense by the half court line, coming up with the steal and dunking it. That play was remarkable albeit the only one.

  9. In watching last night’s game and reading the comments, I’ve come up with my own conclusions. Last years Laker team would have lost to the Suns by at least 25 points. Yes the defense was bad at times, but they did show a few signs of good defense also. Remember last year’s team didn’t force a lot of turnovers. I think Kwame will relax as the season goes along. Imagine being called a bust for four years and then given the starting PF spot for the Lakers! I’d be nervous also. Let’s hope Smush can keep up his solid play for 82 games. Let’s hope Phil stops using Sasha at the back up point and instead use L. Profit. And finally let’s hope some GM in the league is dumb enough to trade for Slava.

  10. chris henderson November 4, 2005 at 6:10 pm

    it’s really nice to see how well Smush is playing, lots of hustle, he does have to be careful of one thing though, after a slam dunk, or a bad call under the hoop, he tends to hang his head, or pump his fists, and the opposing team is pulling off a fast break in the other direction, I’m sure PJ will point that out to him, and keep him hustling in all aspects of the game.
    now, Kwame, is a surprise in the other direction, I focused on him most of the first half last might, and he’s just NOT aggressive, he could have had some rebounds but was just a step too slow, same with second line of D, a step to slow, seems to be caught in the middle ground, and a step behind most of the game. it seems like he doesn’t even want the ball, tends to blend in to the background. Again, I’m sure PJ will point this out, and if anybody can keep him from becoming the next Benoit Benjamin, PJ is the one….we need hustle at all positions. the best thing I’ve read to date is get Kwame to try to be like Ben Wallace, focus on rebounds, blocks, and D D D!!!

  11. couldn’t agree more with you about that silly TNT broadcast method. it’s too bad they insist on an exclusive, which keeps us from switching over to our own FSN or KCAL, (but then, if it weren’t exclusive, none of would ever watch TNT) and you’re absolutely correct, way too much hot air coming from that commentry crew, they think waaaaayyyy tooooo much of themselves! I wish the Laker organization would realize they are hurting their core audience by agreeing with the TNT exclusivity deal, and hold out and allow local coverage to continue, (ESPN does allow). I really don not lie TNT’s over the top coverage.

  12. How do the lakers defend the lob pass? Camby & Kmart are very hard to slow down on their way to the basket – I am not sure how Kwame & Mihm can cut them off. That puts a lot of pressure on Smush to throw off Andre Miller’s pass timing. Am i missing something here? What should i look for when watching the game?

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