Playing GM

Kurt —  June 14, 2006

It’s kind of a fun game to play: “If I were GM of the Lakers, I would….”

It’s the idea behind the NBA GM Fix It web site, which today is focusing on the Lakers. The guys behind the site asked me to take part, I agreed, and today they are focusing on the Lakers.

The problem is, like to many things in life, fun and reality have little to do with each other. Here is the first paragraph of my piece:

As much as we all like to sit around on barstools and complain about what our local GM is doing and how we know better, the exercise of actually making player personnel choices from said stool — especially before the playoffs have ended — is a fool’s errand. It’s sports talk radio fodder at best. The reason is simply information — I am one guy at a computer who watches some college games, has, the stats I do myself and some draft sites, every GM has an army of scouts, detailed statistical analysis and gets paid to watch more games, in person and on tape, than I have time for with a job and a family. How well GM’s use that information can be debated, but to suggest that we have seen enough to know that the Lakers should take “Player X” with the 26th pick is pure hubris — we didn’t see any of the 20+ individual workouts that Mitch Kupchack and his staff did (or will by draft day). We didn’t get to watch nearly every college game of our guy and his main competition. We love to talk rumors, but we don’t know what trade offers have actually been discussed, which ones are smokescreens and which ones a bored columnist or radio talk show host made up.

I enjoy discussing with the commenters here what we think the strengths and weaknesses of any proposed moves are. But I have tried to focus this site on analyzation not rumors speculation, and the “If I were the GM” idea troubled me more and more as I worked on this piece. In the end, I just should have bowed out, but wanted to be true to my word.

What I ended up with was a pretty basic rundown of my thoughts — that continued development of Kwame and Odom in the triangle will have the biggest impact on how we do next year. That there needs to be a defensive-minded point guard and preferably a veteran. That we should draft the best player available at 26. That I’d only trade Mihm for a deal I love. There’s more detail, but it won’t be new to regular readers here.

But I think my main point is worth repeating — we can hope to follow a plan but there are really limits on what we as fans really know. What Laker fan saw Andrew Bynum coming a year ago? That may end up being a steal, or at least a solid pick, but before the draft we didn’t have the information to make an informed decision. And that hasn’t changed.