Archives For October 2006

Pacific Roundtable

Kurt —  October 23, 2006

The Algonquin Round Table we are not, but during the last couple weeks bloggers of the five teams in the Pacific Division (Tom from Sactown Royalty, Kevin from Clipperblog, Justin from Golden State of Mind, Brian from The Rising Suns and myself) have been emailing each other both trying to sound witty and impress each other with our basketball knowledge.

The result was a pretty good preview of the division, and it’s going public in a five-part installment. That starts today over at Sactown – it was Tom’s idea so he hosts first. The question of the day:

Who was the most important new addition (not New Edition – that’d clearly be Ricky Bell) in the Pacific, players and coaches alike?

Tomorrow the discussion moves over to Golden State of Mind and moves along throughout the week. It’s good reading.

Courtside Times

Kurt —  October 23, 2006

Last year Courtside Times was my first read every day on the NBA, a favorite place for smart research and conversation about the league and its players. They also foolishly let me also do some writing. Unfortunately, after a fast start, as the writers on the site got overwhelmed by a multitude of personal things (in my case, a second child), it kind of faded away.

But it was too good an idea and site to let go, so Mike (better known as Knickerblogger) has brought it back for the new NBA season, this time with a little more focus on news and commentary. Already there are a couple of good stories – a roundtable preview of the East and a look into the question does defense win championships? – both of which have sparked some interesting debates.

You’ll also notice that a couple of regulars from here at FB&G are now part of the Courtside team, Gatinho and Rob. For that reason alone you should check it out, just to call them two-timers.

Preseason Stats

Kurt —  October 20, 2006

It’s hard to take much from any one preseason game (even if Mo Evans was +12 and both Odom and Farmar were +9, or if Bynum was -14 against the Clippers). But through five preseason games I thought I’d put up some stats and let people draw their own conclusions:

Name eFG% 3pt % TS% Reb. Rate Pts. P40 Reb. 40 Ast.40
Bynum 65% NA 71.7% 13.1% 15.1 8.6 2.6
Kwame 46.2% NA 42.3% 12.5% 11.8 8.2 4.6
Odom 48.7% 36.4% 53.1% 9.9% 16.1 6.5 5
Walton 55.7% 25% 57.8% 6.3% 14.7 4.1 8.2
Turiaf 60% NA 61.3% 15.1% 17.4 9.9 2.8
Smush 60.3% 56.3% 65.1% 5.9% 21.8 3.9 4.7
Farmar 55% 33.3% 55.4% 4.2% 18.9 2.8 5.1
Evans 41.2% 40% 46.3% 7.2% 14.5 4.7 1.2

Okay, one little comment: While Farmar has wowed us all, Smush has put up good offensive numbers. However, to emphasize a point I have made since the end of last season, it is the best point guard defensively that should get the minutes.

A key for the stats:

eFG%: Shooting percentage combining two and three pointers
3pt.%: Shooting percentage from beyond the arc
TS%: True Shooting Percentage, think of this as points per shot attempt, it covers twos, three, free throws all adjusted to be a percentage.
Reb Rate: Percentage of available rebounds a player grabbed while on the floor.
Pts. P40: Points scored per 40 minutes of playing time.
Reb. P40: Rebounds grabbed per 40 minutes of playing time.
Ast. P40: Assists per 40 minutes of playing time.

For more info on these types of stats, check out Kevin Pelton’s primer.

M*A*S*H*

Kurt —  October 19, 2006

Kwame’s shoulder injury is worse than previously thought — it is being reported that he will be sidelined three to four weeks.

Normally that would not be a big deal, but Chris Mihm is not yet right from ankle surgery. He said in today’s LA Times he wants to be ready by the start of the season, but then I want a Maserati. Jon Black (Laker spokesman) says in the above-linked article he will not be ready.

Combine that with Kobe likely to be there opening day but not being ready for 45 minutes and 60+ points, Radmanovic’s hand, Cook out, Shammond Williams pelvis and every part of Aaron McKie south of the neck injured in some ways and the Lakers are one banged up team that will be taped together but slowed to start the season.

Which has to be concerning — remember 15 of the first 20 Laker games are at Staples, while the middle of the season sees some long road trips and tough stretches. The Lakers are not a team — in a deeper-than-last-year West — that will find it easy to dig out of a hole (and I would call 12-8 after 20 games a hole).

Being without Kwame and Mihm to start the season means last seasons draft picks — Andrew Bynum and Ronny Turiaf — will play a key role in whether the Lakers get off to the start they need to make the playoffs. On that note, I may head over to the Catholic church up the street and light a candle.

Lazenby + Winter = Good Copy

Kurt —  October 18, 2006

When Roland Lazenby and Tex Winter talk, good information flows — and the latest post on Lazenby’s blog proves that again. You need to go read the whole thing, but here are a few interesting topics covered:

Mihm is the team’s only true offensive threat at center. But his recovery has dragged on leaving huge questions.

The other posts — Kwame Brown and teen-ager Andrew Bynum — have both improved. “Brown and Bynum have got a long way to go,” Winter said. “They’re working hard, and Brown is a good strong defender, a strong rebounder. Bynum has improved and has turned in some good play recently.

“But neither one of them can score the ball. They both want to score and try to score, but they don’t. So we lose the post scoring option out of the triangle.”

That sort of flattens the offensive geometry into a beeline for Bryant.

What’s worse, with Brown and Bynum pressing so hard to score “they’re really not the feeders out of the post we want them to be. Seeing and feeding the cutters is important for the post in the triangle. They realize it, and they’re trying to do the right thing. Both of them are pretty good passers. So they’re supposed to be feeders first. But right now they’re looking to score and struggling to score as opposed to being feeders first.”

That’s the frontcourt, but what about the other area of concern, perimeter defense?

Traditionally, Jackson’s teams have featured lots of ball pressure. But the league last season began a new policy of calling touch fouls on the perimeter to help free up offensive players. Thus, Miami’s Dwyane Wade’s big performance in the NBA Finals last June. That means the Lakers’ pressure style has to shift.

“I think you have to play more of a containing defense,” explained Winter, a critic of the NBA’s new guidelines for officiating the game. “You can still put some pressure on the offense. You can contain them and slow the ball up.”

But the new guidelines “change how you force turnovers,” Winter explained. “You can’t be as aggressive as you’d like to be with your hands. You can’t be ‘into’ the guy as much.”

As a result, defense now becomes a matter of waiting for the offensive player to make a mistake, rather than forcing a turnover, Winter said.

The Lakers would like to exert the kind of ball pressure they used to deploy when Derek Fisher wore the Forum Blue and Gold. But the new guidelines are still murky, Winter said. Before games, officials have visited with teams to explain the new approach, Winter said. “They come in and tell us all this stuff. Then the first four or five plays of the game, you see them doing just the opposite from what they said. You don’t know what they’re going to call. So you have to adjust accordingly, depending what’s going on from game to game, even half to half.”

I like what Tex had to say what Kobe too, but that is a topic for another day.