Archives For October 2006

There’s an interesting debate in the comments on the last post that I thought deserved its own airing.

In that post suggested that Luke Walton, at least so far in the preseason, has earned the starting spot and that new free agent Vlad Radmanovic should come off the bench. But Rob started the debate with a good point:

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.

On the surface it seems pretty simple — you should start the best player. The goal is to win, and to do that the best player should start and get more minutes. So far, no doubt, that has been Walton.

But the Lakers put on a full-court press to get Radmanovic the moment the free agent window opened. Kobe and Phil Jackson called him in Europe, they convinced him he was needed. And in pretty much every account he was told – or at least it was intimated – that he would start.

Right now he’s his sprained hand keeps him from being 100%, but what about when he is? Acting coach Kurt Rambis has said several times that RadMan has been a better defender and rebounder than he thought. When his hand is healthy and he can shoot what do you do?

Remember, if you go back on your word you could sour Radmanovic, and he’s got a five-year deal. Worse, other free agents might shy away feeling the organization can’t be trusted.

Craig W. added another good point in the comments:

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 think 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. 1) 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.

So what do you do? Start Walton? Start Vlad? Start Walton until Vlad is healthy? A lot of this depends on the players’ attitudes – something impossible to judge from outside the locker room (and plenty of coaches misjudge even inside).

On the bright side, this is the kind of “problem” that bodes well for the team.

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
ShammondWilliams

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.

Um…..:

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.

I’m still calling it the Pond

Kurt —  October 13, 2006

So, what did you all think of the first televised game? Here are a few notes from my late night TiVo viewing of the Laker game after a couple of martinis and dinner at Musso & Frank.

• Is it just me, or does Kurt Rambis’ hair look like Jerry Seiinfeld’s in “The Shower Head?”

• A second good shooting game from a team without Kobe. As a team they shot 57.4% eFG% (especially good considering the slow start). And against the Sonics 72.3% of the Laker baskets were assisted — which seems to confirm my observation that they are moving well without the ball.

• I love Farmar’s energy. More importantly, he may have the best lateral movement of any of the point guards defensively.

• Through two games, Radmanovic is shooting 23.3% (eFG%). He did look better when he put the ball on the floor, even if the results were not ideal.

• Luke Walton looks far more confident with his shot. He is shooting 66% through two games.

• When did Turiaf become an offensive machine?

• Brian Cook also looked good, and apparently the Lakers may sign him for beyond this season (although, beware of what agents say).

• Kwame Brown did a nice job establishing physical position against the thinner guys defending him.

• I love Luke Walton’s fade away

• If Aaron McKie is bought out, is Green ahead of Pinnock for that spot? He had some explosive plays against the Sonics, particularly that third quarter block.

• Marcus Douthit and Mamadou N’Diaye are the first cuts. No shock there. Now there are 18 left on the roster, three more cuts to go before the season.

Droppin’ Dimes

Kurt —  October 12, 2006

Here’s a brief Lakers preview by yours truly from the pages of Dime Magazine.

I was one of 30 bloggers contacted to do a “your team in 100 words” preview, which was a challenge since I can barely say hello in 100 words. But I got something together and so did the other bloggers, so if you’re looking for a quick tour of the NBA check it out.

Straight Outta Fresno

Kurt —  October 11, 2006

Phil Jackson is a smart man, timing that hip surgery to avoid a trip to Fresno. I’d go as far as a root canal to avoid spending any time in Fresno, but Phil went above and beyond.

I didn’t see the Lakers’ first exhibition game last night, but here are thoughts based on listening to much of the game on the radio, looking at the box scores and notes from people and media who were there.

• As a team the Lakers shoot 59.6% (eFG%) — so much for not liking the new ball. Better news is the Lakers held Utah to 43.5% as a team.

• Lamar Odom rightly has been focused on personal issues this summer, but he didn’t look out of step once back on the court. He scored 18 points on 83% shooting (eFG%) and by all reports was very active on defense as well.

• New Laker Vladimir Radmanovic had a rougher start, going 2 of 7 from the floor (and I think the two makes were both layups), plus there were a couple bad passes that led to turnovers. We can just chalk that up to an off night.

• Meanwhile, Luke Walton started at the three and went 5 of 8 from the floor with six assists. Now, this is just one game, but I think it’s fair to ask the question: Could Walton keep his starting job? He had it last preseason then lost it to injury, but by the end of the season had won it back. I think most of us, including Vlad, had the newcomer penciled in as a starter, but in Seattle they thought Radmanovic was better suited as a change-of-pace off the bench. If Tuesday’s pattern were to continue…

• Kwame, deep breaths. Don’t rush your shots.

• Maurice Evans is dangerous if he gets the ball in the corner. And his presence is going to really help keep Kobe fresh this year, dropping his minutes by a few a game.

• Kwame a. wondered in the comments who would get the job as the backup power forward, Brian Cook or Ronny Turiaf. Again, just one game but Turiaf 21 minutes, Cook 9.

• Pinnock 5 minutes, Farmar 4 and Devin Green 4. Not even getting on the floor: Aaron McKie, Von Wafer, Marcus Douthit and Mamadou N’diaye.

• Just passing along a conspiracy theory out of True Hoop: Remember how Kobe (and a number of other players) wore those Nike tights last season? Is it a coincidence those have been banned this season right as Adidas comes on board as the league’s official clothing sponsor?

• Speaking of things Kobe does getting banned, another new rule for this season is players may not have a wristband on the upper arm or forearm. I’m really hard pressed to see any logic behind that one.