Preview and Chat: The Memphis Grizzlies

Kurt —  November 12, 2006

About that last game. This was one of those games that last season Kobe would have just taken over, scored 50 and at least kept it close. Right now, he is not capable of doing that. Again Odom made a couple nice plays to start the game then faded (and again had a tough defensive match up). Between the top two options, midway through the third quarter they didn’t have 10 points combined.

It spiraled after the Lakers got behind – needing the scoring and someone to shoot over the zone Brian Cook got a lot of court time, some at the center spot, while Turiaf sat, so the team defense got worse. Cook finished -17. The only guys who had a decent game were Farmar and Evans. It’s best we just try to forget about this game.

Living in the Twilight Zone. The Lakers looked like Team USA in Japan when the Pistons went into a zone defense. That is to say, completely confused. As the NBA is a copycat league, the Lakers can expect to see a lot of zone until they prove they can beat it.

The triangle has formations that beat the zone – either by overloading a side while keeping spacing or using someone like Kobe or Lamar to beat their man and penetrate from the wing, making others to cover and creating inside-out and interior passing lanes. If someone knocks down shots from the midrange and three it helps. The Lakers didn’t really do any of that against the Pistons.

Hold on to the ball. The good news is 17.8% of Laker possessions end in an assist, but the worse news is 20.4% end in a turnover. That’s way too high and is the fourth-highest rate in the NBA. They need to limit those and that starts with Kobe – 18% of the possessions he uses have ended in a turnover.

So much for that big deadline trade. Chris Mihm is going under the knife to fix that bad ankle and is out for the season. I hope he recovers, he’s a good player who was one of the better Lakers last season. This hurts the Laker depth and means the idea of a midseason trade is highly unlikely now. Also, I’d be surprised if the Lakers cut him and eat the $4.2 mil.

What about the Grizzlies? I saw Rudy Gay at the Summer Pro League and I think Jerry West made the right move on draft day – this guy is a future force in this league. Combine that with Hakim Warrick and Stromile Swift and you have a very athletic team.

They’d be more of a threat with Pau Gasol in the starting lineup, but he remains out from the injury he got in the World Championships this summer.

The Griz are a very young team that hasn’t found its way on the offensive end yet – as a team they are averaging 100.6 points per 100 possessions (that is 9.4 fewer than the Lakers). Their leading scorer is the guy in front of Gay – Mike Miller, who is shooting 50.9% (eFG%) and 44.4% from beyond the arc, plus the Griz are +17.4 per 48 minutes when he is on the court. Warrick also has also been a force, shooting 51.1%. The also have athletic guys like Eddie Jones and Damon Stoudamire in the starting lineup.

Things to look for. With Gasol out, Bynum can have a big night matched up on Jake Tsakalidis, a guy shooting just 30% on the season and allowing opposing centers to shoot 44% and with a PER of 20.9. Memphis also likes to go small with their athletic players (although they don’t push the ball much, preferring the half court), Bynum should be able to be a force inside. (Kwame too, if he plays, it’s a gametime call.)

And if Memphis goes small, Odom should be able to post up some as well and get points.

Former Laker Chucky Atkins is the backup point for Memphis and this should be a good test for Farmar – Atkins can fill it up (and has used a lot of shots on the second team despite shooting just 41% on the season) but is not much of a defensive guy. Well, that’s being kind, Farmar and Smush need to be given the green light to penetrate when Atkins is on the court.

Final thought: The Lakers are 4-3, which if they continue on this pace would be 12-8 through the first 20. That would worry me; the Lakers are in the soft part of their schedule and need to get 14 wins or more in that span. This is a game the Lakers should win.

Kurt

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11 responses to Preview and Chat: The Memphis Grizzlies

  1. I’m constantly amazed by this site and its readers. How do you all come up with your +/- calcs per game, and other calculations? They seem beyond what 82games tells you.

    With Mihm off the table, we have 6 other expiring contracts this year. Fro Hoopshype: Brian Grant, McKie, Shammond Williams, Luke Walton, Smush, and Turiaf. Grant has already retired, so that’s untradable ($15MM coming off the books, yay!). McKie and Williams have no value. Walton and Turiaf could be moved, but it’s doubtful that we’d get enough back to justify the loss. That really just leaves Smush. But at a base salary of $800K, we really couldnt get much back for him.

    So does that mean we package some combination of Smush, McKie, and Mihm just to get rid of some expiring contracts? That would free up $7.5 million this year. Would Boston be willing to part with Rondo or West? The Knicks have Q, Crawford, but would we want them? Would Washington trade one of their fighting centers? Would Philly blow it up and trade Korver for expiring contracts? Atlanta has players, but doen’t need expiring contracts. My top choice would be to trade for either Brevin Knight in Charlotte or Carlos Arroyo in Orlando. Though I doubt either are available. I’m afraid expiring contracts won’t be enough to get what we need. And if we have to give up too much, then we should just stand pat and go into free agency with buckets of cash to throw around.

  2. The Lakers are 3-1 at home and 1-2 on the road. If we can continue to win 75% of our home games, I will be happy. As for being 1-2 on the road, PJ plays with his lineups so much early in the season that I can’t really get too worked up over a 1-2 road record at this point in the season.

  3. A team that wants to get salary cap space might still take mihm, because his contract expires at the end of the year. A combo of Mihm and Mckie’s expiring contract a long with a pick or two might still bring us something good…

  4. Bryan, a couple hours after the game you can get +/- data for that game at:

    http://www.popcornmachine.net/GameFlows.html

    Or you can count it yourself (I used to do that for some players, but this is much easier). 82games gives you season +/- but not per game. And +/- is not the end all be all (it can be misleading in some ways, it says as much about the person you are subing with as you) but it can confirm what you thought and point you in the right direction.

  5. By the way, I got the starting lineup wrong because I trusted ESPN. won’t make that mistake again.

  6. I love Westphals commentary. Very good comment about Farmar not having to shoot those NBA threes. He can step in a bit and knock down those shots. I watched Jordan all throughout high school and outside shooting was one of his strengths. He had issues shooting the three last year, but he had a hard time last year because he played on two bad ankles the entire year. But he should be able to hit a 20 footer with regularity. But the NBA three might be tougher for him.

    As well, I’m happy the Lakers had Lamar and Kobe switch positions in the triangle. Lamar operates better from the post and Kobe operates better from the perimeter. Everytime Lamar has played from that position in the last couple of seasons, he has been unstoppable.

  7. Jones- i agree with you on Westphal, hes the only person speaking honestly about basketball on tv, and to see him do it opposite super homer jack haley.

    also, using kobe as the pg in the offense is a great move, with the respect kobe commands everything should open back up offensivley

  8. Wasn’t it just a few weeks ago when everyone wanted Lamar to be the point forward?

    When did this changeover take place? Not that I am arguing with people’s logic, I’m just wondering what exactly it was that changed people’s opinions about having Lamar or Kobe initiate the triangle.

  9. Lamar is still a facilitator within in the triangle. It’s just that he is able to accomplish that as well as score better from the post position. I mean take a look at his stats tonight. With 7 assists, obviously he is still able to be a facilitator from that position.

  10. I’m not sure where these “buckets of cash” are. To my knowledge Buss has been very cagey about overpaying people – wasn’t that one of the main things about trading Shaq???

    As for the Lakers situation, I don’t see us any better off in terms of luxury tax. Brian Grant doesn’t count and we are up against it if we exclude his salary.

    With Chris going down I don’t see any trades this year unless someone comes to Mitch with a deal he just can’t pass up. I don’t see Mitch initiating anything. I suspect we will try to sign Chris next summer to a short, fairly reasonable contract that allows us to use his services and him to display his skills for a better contract later.

  11. The problem with having Lamar initiate, at least lately, is that he guts stuck out in 3-point land far too often. Most teams don’t have an answer for Lamar down low, so having him establish position in the post is better than patrolling the arc and shooting long range shots deep in the clock.