Fast Break

Kurt —  November 17, 2005

Thoughts from the Knicks game — including where Lamar Odom should play — and other things:

• The newest Carnival of the NBA blogs is up over at, and there are a lot of new bloggers out there with a lot to say — some of it very insightful.

• Phil Jackson is now publicly discussing taking Odom out of the initiator role of the offense. While he has done an okay job in that role so far, he is tentative and not the aggressive Odom the Lakers need to be successful night in and night out.

I was thinking about that watching the first half of the Knicks game, I found myself picturing this as the new starting lineup:

Smush (same role as now)
Luke Walton (as the initiator)
Kobe (same role as attacker)
Lamar Odom (as the four, replacing Kwame)
Chris Mihm

My gut feel is the offense would be better. Odom could get the ball either in the post or out on the wing, depending on who was guarding him and which provided a bigger match up problem. Odom also could get the ball at the pinch post and play pick-and-roll with Kobe or Smush. Walton’s passing skills and basketball IQ would be a good fit as the initiator.

Even without the 7-footer, this lineup should be fine at rebounding. Odom, even as the initiator spending a lot of time out top, continues to be the best of the Laker rebounders, grabbing 14.2% of the available rebounds when he is on the floor (a number that likely would go up if you moved him closer to the basket). Mihm is second at 13.2%. Kwame is third, 12.9%. Which would be a boost coming off the bench.

The legitimate concern about that lineup is defense. Kobe would have to take the better of the two or three from the opposing team, with Walton on the lesser player. Odom struggled last season having to defend fours with just Mihm behind him. That said, the defensive rotations are bad right now and Kwame is a healthy part of that problem most nights.

I’m not suggesting this be the starting lineup against the Clippers (it turns out Walton will be out for a while because somehow he strained his hip while resting his hamstring). But, during the course of this home stand, I would give this lineup some key minutes to see what they do, and if it works well, then it’s time for a change.

• By the way, the starting five has been the best of the Laker five-man lineups so far, besting the five on the floor opposite them 57% of the time. No other group with significant minutes has done much, but it is early and there are a lot of untested combinations out there.

• Looking at things on paper before the season, I thought the Lakers had a tough November. Turns out, they have had one of the easiest schedules in the league so far.

• Slava will be out at least six weeks with a herniated disc in his back.

• Flea — the huge hoops fan (remember his classic one-on-one game with Ben Stiller from the latter’s old show?) and bassist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers — now has a Lakers Blog. (Thanks to Gatinho for the link.)

• You all are an optimistic bunch — in last week’s poll the majority of you picked the Lakers to win the Pacific. From you lips (and computers) to God’s ears. For the record, I picked Phoenix, but here’s the thing: I think just about any team in the division has a chance to win it, and the ones that don’t are all going to be fighting each other for one of the last couple playoff spots. Sans Amare there are no great teams in the Pacific (sorry Clipper fan) but they are all pretty even.

• Andrew Bynum has a long way to go at the offensive end, but he is playing pretty well defensively. His length and athleticism have caused problems for guys like Pau Gasol, although stronger players like Eddie Curry can still push Bynum around. But his help defense and timing are impressive for a young player. That’s where he’s getting some blocks and making himself felt on the court.

After Kwame had a -4 stint in the first quarter against New York where he picked up two fouls, Bynum came in and was a +7, playing good defense and grabbing three boards and getting two blocks.

• The game preview will go up on Friday, but is it ever too early to start smacking the Clippers? They’re off to a fast start, but I think Kelly Dwyer has got them pegged.

to Fast Break

  1. it’s tempting to agree with you. personally i say be a little more patient. IT’S NOT EVEN BEEN 10 GAMES YET. wasn’t early offensive problems something that was to be counted on, no matter who was running the triangle? while odom’s not putting up fantastic numbers, he’s putting up damn good ones for somebody struggling.

    tex has called him a dumbass, hasn’t he? a commenter on the times blog pointed this out, reading into tex’s thinly veiled “scottie pippen’s one of the quickest learners i’ve coached, big difference”. since everyone knows it’s going to take time for all the learning to happen in the first place, it’s obvious he thinks lamar doesn’t have the smarts to ever run the offense right. looks like he’s found his new shaq.

    of course it’s even more tempting to agree with him.

    at any rate, i’m glad that tex and phil are voicing their displeasure and threatening a reassignment. lamar probably prefers the role he has right now, and since more agressiveness is a big part of what would make them happier, that’s something he can do right away. it’ll make the boy wake up and focus more.

    i don’t know. maybe a move to the bench would be good for kwame. maybe it’d crush what little confidence he has.

    grr. the clippers aren’t 6-2 great, but like you said, the division’s a mess. i thought their spanking of the bucks might’ve turned you around a little…this team is definitely NOT the same ol’ clippers.


  2. I’m looking forward to Walton’s return to the floor – whenever that may be.

    Do you think its too early to ponder trades? I wonder what it would take to pry Phil’s old player, Toni Kukoc, from Milwaukee. He’s not playing much there, anyway. Does he have anything left? Would he be worth a shot?