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 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 story isn’t a good read.