Notes at 3 am — Draft Thoughts

Kurt —  May 24, 2006

Let’s start some draft and free agent talk and thoughts, basically some thinking out loud as we start to hear about workouts and look at prospects.

• By the way, wise Portland fans are putting a good face on yesterday. Now, if this were next year and Greg Oden was in the draft…..

• In the comments yesterday Gatinho pointed to something saying the Lakers may take Kentucky’s Rajon Rondo. After seeing a couple games this season, reading the scouting reports and a few reports from workouts, here are my thoughts — GM’s love the idea of Rondo because they think he can be the next Devin Harris/Leandro Barbosa. He’s lightning fast in a league where perimeter quickness is becoming the priority. Just one problem — he can’t shoot. He got benched this past college season because he can’t shoot outside. He’s gotten the yips when covered in workouts for pro teams.

Which brings us to the Lakers — they don’t need a guy to penetrate, that’s what Kobe and Lamar do, using a size and speed mismatch. What the Lakers do need is a guy who can shoot. That said, I don’t think the issue of taking Rondo will be one the Lakers will face, he will not be around at 26, look for him to go in the top 15 because speed is the rage.

• Update: DraftExpress has the Lakers taking Rudy Fernandez in the first round, a 21-year-old guard playing in Spain, and a guy that has gotten a lot of love from the overseas readers at the site in the past.

• I’m on the “take the best player available” boat with the Laker pick, but all things being equal I take a 4/5 over a guard. We’d rather have a veteran free agent guard.

• Mike James and Bobby Jackson should be on that free agent guard list, but both are over 32, so a two-year deal with the Laker option for the third is about as long as I go.

• What is the fascination among some Laker fans with getting Kareem Rush back, in my mind he was traded for a couple second round picks and that was a steal for the Lakers.

You say Rush is a good shooter? No, he has a good but not great shot. He has hit 34.8% from three-point range over his career but doesn’t do well inside the arc, 43%, and doesn’t get to the line that often, giving him a career true shooting percentage of 44.7%, well below average the time he has been in the league. Last year in Charlotte, 8.1% of his possessions ended in an assist, 10.5% ended in a turnover.

And I don’t think anyone is going to say he has been a good defender. So, what’s the attraction? You don’t have to teach him the triangle? He’s better than what we have now? That’s not good enough if you’re building this team toward a title. I’d rather teach someone with potential than to bring Rush back.

• The more stuff I read, and from what I saw this season, I like Michigan State’s Maurice Ager more and more. The problem is he is not the answer at the point, not quick enough to defend the one, so he’s really be another swing man, a spot the Lakers are loaded. I’m not sure the Lakers can take him at 26 but he may well not be there at 51. A guy who can shoot the ball at the NBA three under pressure and hit them is always in demand.

• Who else are you hearing good things about?

to Notes at 3 am — Draft Thoughts

  1. Chad Ford says Shannon Brown.

    The fascination with Rush is the same as with Fisher. Its partly that fans tend to overestimate the worth of players on the home team, but mostly I think its the idea of getting the old band back together.

    What’s Travis Knight doing? The Lakers need a 4/5 right? I’m sure he could had for the mid-level.


  2. “Speed is all the rage” I actually just saw an article referring to the current NBA era as the “small ball” era…


  3. I mentioned Brown in the comments yesterday, I like him, at least what I’ve seen. Ager sticks out in my mind from the couple of Mich. St. games I saw more because he was just such a good shooter and that stuck, but Brown may well be the better defender and fit for LA.

    And you can thank Mark Cuban for small ball. His years of public complaining about hand checking on the perimeter finally got through to the guys in suits in New York. Now guys who can take you off the dribble (Nash, Kobe, Rondo) have seen their value skyrocket.


  4. Cuban is in the mix, but I blame Shaq too. Officials don’t know how to officiate inside anymore since they changed the rules for him. And the new officials probably don’t even know what the old rules were. So now you have a game where any touch on the perimeter is a foul but you almost never hear a whistle go to a post player even with two forearms in his back. Its no wonder the true low post player is almost extinct.

    Who will be Elton Brand’s Cuban? FREE EB! FREE EB!


  5. Why not Jordan Farmar? Give the local guy some love! While a little undersized, he demonstrated that he can play at a high level, guard the perimeter with tenacity, and learned to play in a disciplined offensive and defensive system.

    I have no doubt that if you replaced the tourney-Farmar for the playoff-Smush, Lakers would have played the clippers in the second round of the playoffs. And dont be fooled, if he gets picked by the lakers, there will be no more “hip to be Clip” slogans go around. The Angelenos will be rallying behind the true LA team…


  6. What scares me about Farmar is the inconsistent jumper. He’s an NBA point guard, but I’m not sure he’s a great Tri fit. That said, the Lakers have worked him out and you can improve a jumper with work.


  7. notreallyimportant May 25, 2006 at 1:57 am

    Hey Kurt,

    I haven’t been reading this blog for that long so I’m sorryif you have already adressed this, but you could you say a few words about the effect theat the Lakers hiring past greats to tutor the young players (Kareem, Pippen etc.). Is this useful? Can we not tell for a few more years? And if it is usefull what are the odds that PJ could get Steve Kerr to be a shooting coach? Woud it not be hilarious to have him be comentating and have him start to yell at some rookie no thats not how I showed you to release, keep your elbow inline! and then realise he was in the commentating box?


  8. Living in Kentucky, and being a Kentucky fan, I can honestly say that Rondo is not what the Lakers want. Rondo is going to be similiar to Tony Parker, w/ better D, and a worst jumper. I don’t know how well he can beat people off the dribble, b/c that’s not what he was told to do in college (w/ Tubby’s caveman offense, this wasn’t an option until they were down 10 w/ 1 min. to go). He can blow by your typical college pg, but I don’t know if he can do it on this level. The man can D though, I just don’t know if playing at UK allowed him to do what you want from a pg. If he would’ve played for Pitino, then he’d probably be a top 5 pick. He is not a good foul shooter, or jump shooter, but he is quick and he has speed. He was the star of the under21 team, I believe that playing w/ a great group of youngsters showcased his ability to be an assist guy, and I think that over time he will become serviceable, if not a top 10 pg at some point in his future. But the Lakers will not have that option.

    I like Paul DAvis of Michigan State, big man, can hit the J, works hard, and is a tough player.


  9. The Lakers had 9 players spend time at either the 2 or 3 last year, which I suppose is what you mean when you say they are loaded at the swing man spot.

    But of those 9, only Kobe, Lamar and Luke were decent at that position, and Lamar was much better at the 4 spot than the 3. Statistically speaking, Devean, Jim Jackson, Laron Profit, Devin Green, Von Wafer and Sasha were virtually useless.

    I definitely agree that Rush doesn’t fit either need, and have no idea who the Lakers should draft (its impossible to have any real guess who will even be available at 26 anyway), but I sure hope the Lakers don’t think their key need is a 4/5. Kwame and Lamar should play 35+ minutes each at those spots, leaving about 20 total, and I’m confortable with those going to Mihm and/or Turiaf. I’m not comfortable with 35+ minutes for either Smush or Walton, and certainly not for anyone else on the roster.

    To me, the Lakers have 2 needs this off-season–a point and a swing man, both that can play defense and hit some shots.


  10. So John Paxson likes Chris Mihm…

    From the Chi Tribune:
    “If the Lakers were willing to deal Chris Mihm, Paxson probably would consider making a run for the 7-footer if he didn’t have to give up too much.”

    They seem to have a lot of players that would fit for the Lakers. Duhon, Gordon, Deng, Songaila. The question is: How much do they value Mihm?


  11. Notreally, not to get too philosophical, but there is a Buddhist saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will come.” More important than the teacher is the student’s willingness to learn. By all accounts, Bynum is an eager student. That is not Kwame’s reputation, although hopefully with maturity that has changed. I guess we’ll see next season.

    That said, having someone who was as thoughtful about his game as Kareem I think is an advantage. I’m not sure what kind of coach Wilt (or Shaq) would have made, but Kareem played a smart game that hopefully he can pass along. Same with Pippen coaching Lamar, that is the one guy who knows what Lamar will see and has dealt with the adjustments (and won). They are very valuable resources, if players will listen.


  12. 10. I would think Duhon would be the guy the Lakers would want, even if he is shorter than Phil prefers. But now you’re trading big for small, so I want more back than just him, maybe Songalia (the Lakers may have to throw a second rounder next year into that mix to make it work for Chicago). Plus, Duhon has to a agree to any trade before the season starts and Songalia can’t be traded unless his one-year option is picked up.

    And, I still jut fear trusting Kwame that much without someone to push him. Next year that can be Bynum, but I’m not sure he’s ready yet.


  13. If the TWolves or maybe the Bulls are willing to give up their lottery picks, Id rather trade Mihm to them and take Brandon Roy. He shot over 40% from 3point range, can defend the perimiter and is the most NBA ready player in the draft. I like Powe at #26.

    I agree that trusting Kwame is somewhat risky, but the Lakers dont have the luxury of having two starting centers when they have other obvious areas of need. I also think the teams defense is the largest area of need, the Lakers were 8th in offensive efficiency but 16th in deffensive efficiency.

    I like the idea of solving the PG situation via Free Agency, I think Marcus Banks is the best option as he’s an excellent defender, fairly young, and could be had for the MLE.

    how does this look:
    PG Banks/Smush
    SG Kobe/Vujacic/McKie
    SF Roy/Walton
    PF Odom/Powe
    C Brown/Turiaf/Bynum

    That lineup is a bit undersized, but the Lakers had their best run of the season without Mihm and with teams like Pheonix and Dallas running around, Im not sure having more than one or two classic centers is as necessary as it was 5-10 years ago.


  14. RE: Portland

    That team has depth at only one position: Overrated headcases. How did they manage to set about shedding the Jailblazers image as Achieving Headcases who almost made the Finals only to end up with Overrated Headcases? Someone should write a book on this.


  15. I like Jarret Jack from Portland. The Lakers were considering drafting him last year. I think he would be a good fit. I would also consider trying to get D Fish back because he would provide the shooting and the leadership that they are missing. As well, If Toronto Drafts Andrea Berganawhatever, Vilanueva is going to be expendible. The Raptors are said to be looking for a center, so a future First rounder and Chris Mihm should secure him. A front line of Charlie V, Odom, and Kwame would be increadible. I think Gordon and Duhon would also be good fits, but the only trade peice the Lakers have right now is Mihm, so they don’t have much to work with. Fred Jones and Peja Stojakovic are going to be free agents. Utah is said to still be looking to trade Carlos Boozer. Makes a lot of sense for both parties since we need a four and Boozer already has a home in Los Angeles. But again, I think the Lakers should look at trading Mihm and this years first round pick for Charlie V.


  16. And by the way, I grew up with Farmar and watched him play all through high school. He has always been a solid three point shooter until this year. He is not much of an off the dribble pull up shooter, but he is a great catch and shoot guy. Which is perfect for a PG playing in the triangle. People forget that he played on two bad ankles the entire year and that had an effect on his accuracy. I sat right next to a couple of NBA scouts at some games this year, and they pretty much agreed with me, that Farmar will be a decent shooter in the league. I think the triangle would be a great fit for him.


  17. And those two comments are why you should be reading the JONES on the NBA blog if you’re not already, The guy does smart stuff. (I am asuming this is the same guy. I subscribe through bloglines.)

    About Jack, he didn’t have a great year up in Portland, his shooting outside shooting wasn’t impressive (42% on jumpers and less than 30% from beyond the arc) and his defense was spotty. But they played him at the two most of the time, not the point. Plus, it was Portland, so how much did the team dynamic impact his play? If I could get him cheap, maybe.

    Charlie V. I was down on at the draft because of his effort levels in college, and then I saw him at the Summer League in Long Beach and thought if he played that inspired he would be very good. But Mihm and the one?

    My only concern about Farmar is the jumper. I’m glad the Lakers are working him out, it’s the chance to see if he can hit the J. But his eFG% was just 48.5% last year, 46.9% the year before that, and his turnover reate both years was high. I grew up not far from Taft, I want him to do well, but I’d take a hard look at that workout if I were the Lakers.


  18. Don’t take those two bad ankles lightly. That can really effect a shooters accuracty. Believe me, Farmar can shoot, which I am sure he will be able to show in work outs. And did you see Charlie V play last year? I think he has all-star potential. He’s a perfect fit for the Lakers because he can play small forward, give the lakers rebounding, defense, and a versatile offensive game. I know the Lakers were high on him prior to last years draft, so now would be a chance to get him. I mean the Kid scored 48 points in a game as a rookie. If Toronto only wants Mihm for him than do it, but they’re first rounder this year is not so important that they need to hold on to it. If it takes Mihm and the first rounder to get charlie, I think I would do it. The premise here is that Lamar is a better player at the four, and Kwame is a center, meaning they would need a solid 3 who could play some 4 from time to time. Charlie V fits that perfectly. Lakers should use their Mid-Level for a guard with three point range. Or Maybe the Bulls would be willing to take Brian Cook for Chris Duhon? Who knows…but it’s fun to speculate. Thanks for the props. I love reading your blog as well.


  19. Re: Farmar – the jumper is a valid concern. But from a cost/benefit prespective – I would have to believe that he could improve the perimeter defense dramatically from Smush. While Smush has the tools to be a good perimeter defender, he was, as you all may know, an extreme liability on the pick and roll.

    In the West vs. the Bibby’s, Nash’s, and Tony Parkers, I strongly believe that if you were to isolate his weakness on the jumper vs. the benefit of his perimeter defense – the lakers can potentially be an EXTREMELY great defensive team. While we discussed how risky it was to depend on Kwame to anchor the center spot, from a defensive perspective, he is not a liability at all. Add to the potential Bynum brings to the defensive end, picking someone of Farmar’s caliber (and with his experience in structured system), the Lakers can really set themselves apart defensively in the West. Offensively, Phil will get them on the same page regardless of talent (as he has shown this year).

    Overall, shouldnt our main focus be more on defense? Rather than their fit in the triangle? It seems that unlikely players have been able to pick up on the triangle (Rodman, Kwame, etc) while some players presumed to be good fits ie. Jim Jackson & Mitch Richmond, (great shooters) didnt fit in the triangle. Lets stick with what we’ve needed in the past 5 years, perimeter defense. (This is just years of pick and rolls killing the lakers venting right now).


  20. notreallyimportant May 26, 2006 at 10:53 am

    Jim jackson was not playing well in Phoenix, last year he was other wordly behind the perimeter, but this year he seems to have lost the touch.

    I’m currently residing in Turkey while school is out and can yoe believe that I had to miss Game 1 of each conference final because NBA TV decided to show WNBA games?

    There is a good piece (short and sweet) on free darko about Shaq’s legacy.


  21. From Draftexpress (via Henry at True Hoop):

    The Raptors see Bargnani, like Charlie Villanueva, being able to play the 3, 4 and 5 spots in the NBA, with Chris Bosh manning the 4/5. The only question now is whether the Raptors will draft him at #1, or will attempt to trade down a few spots (possibly to Portland for the #4 pick in a package with Chris Bosh’s good friend and ex-teammate Jarrett Jack) to pick up a valuable asset along the way.

    I take away from that (with plenty of salt as Henry goes on to suggest it’s a smokescreen) the Raptors may want to keep CV and have him as a key part of their future front line. I will say this for them, they got rid of the laughingstock GM and brought in the guy who built the Suns. And Jones, I like Charlie V, I underestimated him last draft.


  22. I have a suggestions draft wise how about Daniel Gibson he shoots 38% which is above average but not great and that would probably be better if he had better shot selection. In free agency i like Bobby Jackson . In a trade there are rumors that Boston is looking to draft a pg so it might be worth looking into Delonte Wests availability


  23. 38% from 3 i mean and 40 % inside


  24. I posted this in the wrong place, I suppose. So I’ll repost it here:

    There are two players that could be available when the Lakers pick in the 2nd round that are intriguing to me: Dee Brown and PJ Tucker.

    Brown is ultra quick and can defend on the ball well. Brown also handled some complicated offenses under Weber at Illinois and shot the ball extremely well his junior year. His size is a concern, but i think the Lakers have enough length to compensate.

    Tucker is strong and big. His jumper could develop and he brings some nastiness that I think the Lakers severely lack. I could see him developing in to a Raja Bell/Bruce Bowen type. His upside could even be in the Chauncey Billups range, if he can display some more quickness and vision.


  25. I agree on your comment about Profit (that he’s not the future), but I suspect that the Lakers will sign him for next year. Kobe spoke highly of him as a backup *after* he was cut for Turiaf, plus he’s been reportedly practicing with the team (sans coaches). The guy I would like to see back for the LLE, if he can be had that cheaply, would be Jumaine Jones.


  26. I think the two best draft fits are guillermo diaz and rudy fernandez. Diaz is said to ba an electric sparkplug. But i think that fernandez is the best fit. He is a tall guard that i able to play point as well. He has manu ginobliesque slahing skills and a beautiful shot. Big point guard who can shoot. Fits tri off.


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