Fast Break

Kurt —  November 21, 2005

Thoughts after a game the Lakers should have won.

• Kobe still taking way too many shots for the Lakers to win consistently, he is using about 34.7 possessions per 40 minutes (most of those are shots, but it includes things like turnovers), almost double the next highest Laker (Lamar Odom at 17.8) and by far the highest number in the league.

The bigger problem is: Who else is going to take them? Sure, we’d all like to see Odom shoot more and be more aggressive, but after that who is left that you want taking a lot of shots? Smush still has a good shooting percentage on the season (55.2% eFG%), but he is clearly someone who can go cold for long stretches. Chris Mihm and Brian Cook are shooting well within their respective roles, but the more you ask them to do the less consistent they will be. Who else should shoot more? Kwame?

Last season Kobe took a lot of shots (30 possessions used per 40 minutes) but there were several other scoring threats — Odom, Caron Butler and Chucky Atkins. (Atkins has been much maligned by me for his defense, but he filled up the net last season.) This season there were fewer classic scorers but I thought the triangle offense and an increased pace for the Lakers would get them some easy buckets to counter the lack of classic scorers. Now the triangle is sloppy (at best), Kobe is seeing double and triple teams (did you notice Tyson Chandler was way out contesting Kobe’s last three of the game) and no one else seems capable of decreasing his burden.

If someone doesn’t step up, if something doesn’t change, it is going to be a long season.

• I had higher hopes for the lineup that started against the Bulls because Odom was playing the four again, rather than Jackson’s “initiator.” But the starting five was -6 for the game and Odom got in quick foul trouble. With Kwame out I still think you should give this starting five another shot (or have Walton take Profit’s spot), but the group looked poor on defense.

• The Lakers are averaging 97.1 possessions per game, the sixth fastest pace in the league. That’s just for all of you who may have bought into the “triangle is boring” theory.

• Good minutes from Bynum, who picked up his first NBA points. So far this season he is averaging an insane 7.1 blocks per 40 minutes played. His game is still plenty raw, but I have a lot of hope for him. The big questions that I have are ones I brought up around the draft, the ones that I think are key to drafting any high school player — Does he have the work ethic? Will he listen to and absorb what Kareem and Phil are trying to teach him? How badly does he want to be good or great? I have no idea what the answers are (we won’t know for sure for a few years), but the improvement I’ve seen from Summer Pro League to now makes me optimistic.

• Rarely do I ever go to the “I told you so” card, but what did I say about Sweetney? To be honest, this was not my original idea — Knickerblogger was high on him for two years in New York and wore black for a week after he was traded.

• Sweetney had a good game and Tyson Chandler seemed to be more quiet (save for that block on Bynum), but Chandler was a game high +13. He makes an impact because he is a defensive and rebounding force.

• Did you know that when the Lakers drafted Sasha when Chris Duhon was still on the board?

• Rough game for Smush Parker, who was -12.

• How about my Cal State Northridge Matadors now? Mid-major fan Tim from over at Hoops Junkie told me he liked what he saw in them before the season but I was cautious. Now, I’m feeling pretty good.