Three Games In

Kurt —  October 16, 2006

Three preseason games matter about as much as a politician’s promise, and the game against Phoenix Sunday was particularly hard to base any big-picture thoughts on because of the lineups used. Still, everything is starting to come into a little better focus, and here’s what’s rattling around in my head:

Starting 5:

Smush Parker
Kobe Bryant
Luke Walton
Lamar Odom
Kwame Brown

The only surprise here from what the conventional wisdom was pre-camp is Luke over Vlad. This is not about Vlad and his shooting – he’ll be fine and has yet to play off Kobe yet. It’s just that right now Luke is playing too well, looking too confident not to start him. He is earning it.

First guys off the bench:

Vladimir Radmanovic
Maurice Evans

Bringing these two guys off the bench provides some versatility to exploit matchups. You can have Vlad go in for Luke and Evans for Smush and go big. You can have Vlad sub out Kwame and have Evans sub out Luke and go small. Both of these guys has looked okay but still seem to trying to be getting the hang of the new offense and new teammates.

What about backup point guard?

Sasha Vujacic/Jordan Farmar

Shammond Williams had his best game against Phoenix, and Sasha looked good in the one game he played, but Jordan Farmar has been one of the most impressive Lakers in camp. Yes he’s a rookie, yes this is a Phil Jackson team, but Farmar is earning minutes, earning his chance. Bottom line, they all should get some chances and whoever plays the best “D” will get more and more time. But I stand by my prediction that by the end of the season we’ll be seeing more and more Farmar. He could be part of an end-of-the-quarter energy team.

The other bigs:

Ronny Turiaf
Brian Cook
Andrew Bynum

While these guys may see time, how much is unclear and may be decided by matchups night to night. Turiaf had a nice game in Vegas Sunday night, made good defensive rotations, and seems to be working his way into the rotation. We have talked a little on this site about whether Cook or Turiaf will be the back-up four — they might actually play well together, with Turiaf as the “center” and Cook the four. Bynum will play some, he had his best game of the preseason against Phoenix but how much duty he gets may depend on matchups.


Aaron McKie
Chris Mihm

Mihm is injured so I just put him here for now but when healthy and in shape he’ll get minutes. Aaron McKie has looked okay, but as good as Devin Green? I’d still rather give the roster spot to the young guy with a future.

to Three Games In

  1. Great analysis overall, but I wouldn’t assign minutes quite yet. Unlike last year, this team is DEEP–maybe too deep. Unlike last year, this team seems to know how to play team defense.

    The coaching staff has already noticed what everyone else is noticing: jordan Farmar can PLAY in the NBA. They put him up against Steve Nash-and he held his own!

    Though there is good logic for bringing him on slowly, we may be looking at someone in the mold of Jason–yes, that Jason! Jordan’s leadership charisma and basketball smarts could draw him into a more central role far sooner than one might suppose.

    Tonight, the coaches also seemed to be determined to find as many ways as possible to use Turiaf.

    The odd guy out appears to me to be the Smusher–who you indicate is the starting point guard. He may end up playing a different role–or?

    With so much talent competing for too few slots, I sense a trade–either for draft choices or something more interesting. At this point, my crystal ball is a bit hazy . . .

    Dr. Rayeye


  2. Not that pre-season matters, but…

    This is the first game I got to watch and two first-impressions: (1) Bynum is improving at exactly the pace we all hope he will continue to improve at and (2) Farmar will average at least 10 minutes per game this year b/c Luke averaged that in his first year and Farmar brings at least as much to the table on this squad as Luke brought when he was a rookie.

    As for the game itself, the Lakers lost the game at the FT line. We were a terrible 8-14 while Phoenix was 22-26. As for FG’s (LAL: 37-78 / PHO 35-80) and 3-Pts (LAL: 9-21 / PHO 7-28), the Lakers were better in both those categories than Phoenix.

    Kobe will help with the FT’s and it was just a single (pre-season) game, but still…


  3. Derek I think has the right perspective on Farmar, 10 minutes a game, He may earn more by the end of the year, but for a rookie on a deep team 10 is about right. I’m excited too, but three preseason games is WAY too early to compare him to any Jasons (or even Speedies) let alone start pushing Smush out the door. Patience, Farmar could develop into the Laker point guard for the next decade, don’t rush the process.


  4. I agree with most of your points Kurt, but I feel your short-changing Chris Mihm. Before he went down last year he was our second most consistent player, not Lamar, not Kwame, Chris Mihm and his 10 pts and 7 rebs. When he is healthy we have a solid center rotation, similar to the Bulls teams who used Cartwright and Stacey King or Longley and Brian Williams, we’ll have options at the Center position and more importantly, insurance if Kwame reverts back to stone-hands stauts. When he’s healthy, he’ll be the first or second guy off the bench


  5. Kurt,

    I’m not sure that it is Smush, but SOMEONE is going to get pushed out the door or traded.


    That’s a fact.


  6. We’ll see. I don’t think we’ll see a trade before the new year. McKie being cut is about the only move I think we’ll see.


  7. I hate to bring this up, as I am a superstitious man. Luke is the hot hand right now. Vlad is slowed by injury and adjustment to the triangle. Reason dictates that Luke start and Vlad come off the bench. But Vlad was wooed here by the promise of starting. What happens after a week or two of the season if he is still coming off the bench? Would we get the best play out of Vlad? He could feel that the Lakers went back on their word and we could wind up with a large chunk of salary cap being wasted. It might be better to start Vlad and have Luke come off the bench. Even if Vlad starting was a dip from Walton starting, having a good Walton off the bench might be so much better than a sulking Vlad off the bench that it is worth it in the overall scheme of things.


  8. 7 – I’m pretty confident that Phil will not start someone to prevent pouting.

    Why does Farmar look like he’s a veteran out there? Him and Luke look like the most undercontrol guys this side of Steve Nash.


  9. I like Farmar’s game a lot. He has more on court savy that any of the other point guards on the team. He needs to play 15-20 mins a game. He’s as good if not better than Tony Parker was when he came into the league. He just needs to play, period.


  10. Its true that PJ doesn’t play rookies much but there was one exception with the lakers- He did warm to Luke Walton faster than any other rookie that I remember because Luke was smart and worked hard to do what PJ wanted of him. From all I’ve heard, Farmar fits that bill. I’m not saying he’ll be starting, but what people on here are saying sounds reasonable. PJ will use him like he’s used Luke (who I’m really glad seems to be becoming a real NBA player), rewarding him for his diligence and willingness to play the right way.

    I also see Turiaf becoming an important piece of the frontcourt, since Bynum looks like he needs PT more than the team needs him playing.

    And I’ve been wondering about the possibility of playing cook and Vlad at the same time. Defensively weak and rebounding would suffer too, but the team shooting percentage would go up, so rebounds would go down, and imagine what it would do to have those two outside while LO, Kobe or one of the PGs penetrate… It’ll never happen, but it’s an interesting concept if we are goign to keep both of them.


  11. Also- regarding whether someone will be traded, I think Mihm and Cook (and maybe a PG or two) would be the obvious candidates, but both of them had injuries this summer that destroyed their value. So it makes sense that we wouldn’t have tossed them to charlotte for a second rounder as has been our wont in the past.

    There’s still a lot of time before the deadline, and they could each prove that they should be kept or improve their value on the market. Right now I’d say we’re properly keepign the wait and see attitude. If the right deal comes along, then we’ll pull the trigger.


  12. Think about balance when comaring Luke and Vlade. The individuals don’t matter as much as the team. It may be nice to have the best man starting, but thnk about our second team. These are the guys who come in at the end of the 1st period and start the 2nd. We need a group that won’t lose a lead gained by the 1st unit. Walton fits these needs to a tee. !) he would be the leader of the 2nd unit, 2) he would be the focal point of the offense and get more points than otherwise, and 3) he would be responsible for directing the “energy” guys to play the right way – not just energetic.

    I think Luke is too valuable to start – and get lost among Kobe, L.O., etc.


  13. Farmar plays like he’s a veteran because he has been preparing himself to be in the NBA since he was a very young kid. He was a childhood friend of mine, and I tell you he LOVES the game of basketball, and really has it in his mind that he can and will be the best at what he does. That is why I have supreme confidence in him. And as he has shown at every level so far (despite the doubters), he is a winner. He has that same work ethic and belief in his ability that Kobe Bryant does. Most NBA players say that they want to be the best, but Jordan really does want to be the best. That’s the main difference. Everyone said he couldn’t lead a team from the Valley to the city championship, and he did it. People said that he wasn’t a UCLA caliber player, but he proved them wrong and completely turned the program around. Then people said he wouldn’t be a first round pick (I even thought he should have stayed in school this year), and yet he put in the work and again rose to the occassion to become a first round pick for his hometown Lakers. I’ve come to realize that it’s not a safe bet to doubt Jordan. I mean before training camp most people were talking about him going to the D-League, but he’s proving once again that when it comes to basketball, he’ll never come up short. Expect great things from him for years to come.


  14. I don’t think the Lakers are really a “deep” team so much is that we have a lot of mid-level promising talent. We’ve got a lot of guys who are showing us some things that could eventually lead to a really deep squad next year, two years, or as early as the end of this year. But with practically everyone except for Kobe (and maybe Odom) of our starting five still “developing” and all of our backup bigs and point guards with a lot of potential..

    I’m hoping the Lakers get off on a roll and don’t look back. I’m hoping Kobe keeps them focused and they don’t question why they are winning games, they just go out and do it.


  15. John (Vancouver) points out the reason I think Walton should head up the second unit. We need a seasoned, very sharp triangle vet to keep things moving in the right direction. Walton fits the bill exactly.