Summer Pro League: Games three and four

Kurt —  July 13, 2006

I caught half of the game against Dallas on Wednesday and a little more than a quarter against Memphis last night, and out of that is a continuation of my thoughts on the Lakers participating. (Note, so far I have been pretty light on stats, in part because we’re just four games in now and in part because it is not online and has to be hand-entered. I’ll play around with it at the end of the two weeks.)

Jordan Farmar: He did not play in game four Wednesday and that absence may have been the best indication of his impact — without him the triangle looked far less crisp, less organized. In just a few games he has an intuitive grasp of the offense and has established himself as the leader of this team on the court. Suddenly, it’s not hard to imagine a second unit that has him and Luke Walton on the floor running the offense in a way that will make Tex Winter smile. His defense continues to be good much of the time (he did well on fellow a draftee, the very quick Kyle Lowry, in game three). That said, he still has plenty of that need improvement — he is 2 of 8 from beyond the arc (although he looked more confident from the outside in game three), he struggles defensively fighting through picks, and there is more.

But one statistic makes me smile — he has an amazing true shooting percentage of 72.1% through three games. For the new readers here, TS% is basically a way of figuring points per shot attempt, and it counts free throws (something Farmar draws a lot of) and points scored. (If you scored two points every time you shot, your TS% would be 100%). For some comparison, last season Brian Cook led the Lakers at 57.8%, Kobe was at 55.9%. Sure it’s three games in the Summer League, the Farmar is showing he belongs.

Andrew Bynum: I am apparently kryptonite to Bynum — all reports are he had a great second game (vs. Dallas) and a great first half of game three (vs. Memphis), none of which I saw. However, he was pedestrian at best in the fourth quarter against Memphis or in the first half of game four (vs. Dallas), which I did see. What that speaks to is inconsistency, even within a game, certainly a sign of youth. But, he’s being inconsistent against less-than-NBA-level talent, so what happens when he starts getting more minutes this fall?

On defense, Bynum moves well but he wants to block every shot he’s near (especially if he can come from the weak side for it) and that leads to foul issues. He does better when just using his length to alter some of those shots. He’s also pulled down an average of 9 boards a game through the first three games. However, against what should have been a Dallas team he could push around inside, he was the one getting outworked and muscled for rebounds (he doesn’t seem yet to anticipate where the ball will come off the rim well yet). And, his shot got blocked twice by Brian Boddicker (the fact you don’t know him says all you need to know). In Bynum’s defense, when I have seen him he has not been getting good entry passes, although he has been slow to give up a little position for possession. Apparently those entry passes, and what he does with the ball, are a lot better when I’m not watching. That said, he’s still dramatically improved from last year, if not the end of last season.

Danilo (J.R.) Pinnock: While fans knew what they were getting in Bynum and Farmar, Pinnock is the guy that has become a fan favorite for what he has done game in and game out. In game four, he was the best initiator of the triangle the team had with Farmar sitting out. His play in the first three minutes of game four may have been the highlights of the entire game —he blocked a shot, grabbed a rebound for a one-handed put-back dunk, and had a highlight dunk on a back-door ally-oop from Green that literally collapsed the basket (the entire portable basket structure came down into its folded position).

Pinnock does a lot of things well, driving the lane, shooting and playing hard on defense. He hustles after rebounds (a guard who pulls down 13 boards in the first three games. His combination of anticipation and hustle means he gets lots of loose balls.

Devin Green: Continues to impress by just seeming to be the guy quietly doing whatever the team needs. His basketball IQ is very good and that works well in the triangle. At times he has shown a nice outside stroke, although through four games his eFG% is a pedestrian 45.6%.

Von Wafer: After going 2 of 11 in the first two games and looking lost in the offense, Wafter has tried to revert to the Wafter of last year’s SPL — a gunner. He has been 11 of 25 (with an eFG% of 52%) in the last two games, and has taken the ball to the hole aggressively. There has been a sense of desperation around his game, you can almost feel him realizing he’s going to have to fight for a roster spot now. That said, he continues to do well freelancing but has yet to look comfortable within the triangle (such as it is in the summer league).

Marcus Slaughter: After not turning my head in the first three games, he had a nice game four that started to show his potential. He played the four in college, but in the NBA he’d be a three, and there were questions of whether his midrange game was up to it, Well, against Dallas Wednesday he was 7 of 9 overall, much of that in the midrange, and 2 of 3 from beyond the arc. He also had six rebounds and three steals in this game. He’s athletic and showed a lot of potential Wednesday.