Exposed Weaknesses

Kurt —  February 6, 2006

I’m back, and for the record Maui doesn’t suck. We had to suffer though what the Hawaii local TV weathermen called a “cold front” — the high temperature dropped from 85 down to a bone chilling 81. But we survived. (As much as I’ve mocked LA weathermen in the past — see Steve Martin in LA Story for good satire — in Hawaii it’s even funnier. They’re really surf reporters.)

Thanks again to Gatinho, who put together great posts and previews in my absence (and KD, this is my last vacation for a while, unless I get to buy a ranch in Texas with brush to clear). Gatinho did much, much better than the Lakers while I was gone.

I didn’t see the games (our rented condo didn’t even have ESPN), but looking at the stats from the last three games it looks like the Lakers long-known weaknesses — no consistent scoring outside Kobe and a weak bench — have come back to bite them. Those that saw the games, does that sound about right?

In the last three games, Kobe has used 28% of the Laker shots and has a true shooting percentage of 59.4% (remember the league average is about 53%). The rest of the Lakers are at 42.1%. Nobody seems to have the skill to step up consistently, and other teams (based on newspaper reports and your comments on this site) seem to be trying extra hard to take the ball out of Kobe’s hands and dare everyone else to beat them. Eric Pincus (among others) points out that with Odom out it is easier to double Kobe because Kobe is now the initiator, the de facto point guard.

It’s logical, and, as Devean George said today in the LA Times, this is a copycat league. Once one team has success with something, you’re going to see it every game until you prove you can beat it.

Combine that strategy with the Lakers next two best players going down to injury — Lamar Odom and Chris Mihm are the only other two Lakers with a PER above the league average of 15 — and the lack of Laker depth is exposed.

By the way, I saw Phil Jackson lamenting in the Times about Jumaine Jones while using “interesting” grammer:

“He was a player that we had no idea how good a player he was.”

Really, because you had him all through training camp and it was you, Phil, not playing him that pushed him to be traded for less than fair value. A couple of your assistants, Frank Hamblin and Kurt Rambis, got a first-hand look at how good he was last year. I’m not Jumaine’s biggest fan, his game has flaws, but he would be much better coming off the bench than the players you kept (who got off to a faster start because they knew the triangle offense). Jumaine is the kind of guy you could use now, with injuries abounding.

In the short term the problem is the Lakers next two games are tough places to get well. Dallas is very good. Houston has won three in a row and presents some issues for the Lakers (if Mihm isn’t back the Lakers will need big games from Kwame on Yao and a host of people on McGrady). Sadly, at this point I’d take a 2-5 road trip.

In the long term, the questions are health and how the team and coaching staff adapt to their weaknesses being exposed.

to Exposed Weaknesses

  1. I think that was alot of words to say the team is extremely shallow. As I said before basically 3 NBA starters on the whole roster and starting players that wouldn’t MAKE other teams. I’m suprised it took this long for opposing coaches to key in on it, though the refs are part of the problem (or solution I guess depending on POV) as they unduly protect Kobe. To fight back when Odom returns he needs to go off for at least 30 one night or the triple teams and zones won’t stop. One big night by Mihm or Cook or Smush won’t be enough to convince them to play a balanced defense again.

    Lakers without Kobe or Odom…Oh-fer.
    Clippers without Brand AND Maggette…2-0.

    What part of Maui? We stayed in Ka’anapali at almost this same time last year. Definitely the kind of place that makes one think about not coming back to LA. Compare: They have PSA’s reminding people to be nice to one another and give up your seat on the bus, we have PSA’s pleading for people not to run over pedestrians.


  2. We rented a condo in Kahana, just about 5-10 minutes north of Ka’anapali.


  3. Screw it!!

    Let’s start Bynum and Turiaf!!

    I know Turiaf hasn’t played a second of NBA-ball, but I’m pretty sure the energy he brings would be leaps and bounds ahead of what we’ve seen the past two games.


  4. I agree.
    We need some energy out there. The other players we have that have it are Bynum and Kobe. But Bynum only plays when the game is over.
    Walton is terrible, Smush seems to be lost, Cook?, can someone tell Sasha to stop shooting three’s, and Kwame can’t make a lay-up.

    Hopefully Kobe’s frustration with the team wont stop him from putting up big numbers, cause when need them!



  5. Seriously, who gives a shit if some loser from FoxSports and Bill Simmons rip Kobe for scoring 80 points as being selfish or arrogant or egotistical or whatever, he should go for 110 in a game if it gets us the W….

    Though I defended the deal then (and still do), Caron Butler might be nice to have right now…then again…he shoots the 3 worse than Kwame would…


  6. what a difference a week makes. welcome back. and by back i mean back to last year.

    i thought you didn’t shed a tear when jumaine left… that was a pleasant surprise. for the record though, phil was being sarcastic.

    devean george is a brilliant man. it’s their defense that they should be focusing on first and foremost. it’s been horrid for awhile. that should give their offense a slight boost, if they really plug in at that end.

    the role players need to stop listening to people saying how terrible they are. they’re young. they need to grow.

    that said, it’s probably not going to be a pleasant next two games. all i want is a smart, fantastic effort.


  7. Goo, I don’t think they got enough for Butler, but the problem is do we need anoher swing man or a poor center more? I’m not sure there’s a good answer to that.

    John, you seem to be right about the defense, that has fallen off lately and is the first problem. And while I didn’t shed a tear when Jumaine left, I don’t think Phil can compain since he gave playing time to other guys and essentially forced Jones out. If he was being sarcastic, then my bad.


  8. one of the writers from the papers noted his sarcasm. also it was part of an extended quote where you could see it a little easier. plus he kinda sounded like he wasn’t a big fan of the trade, saying something along the lines it wasn’t really a “trade” since they didn’t get a man back for him.

    that’s what i thought when it happened, it was a move the organization could’ve made farther down the road or at the end of this season. maybe they thought his value wouldn’t be as high by then, who knows.