Getting The Point

Kurt —  November 13, 2006

Kobe moved to the initiator spot out on top of the triangle Sunday night, Odom moved onto the block and the triangle returned to shape against Memphis. I remember someone floating this idea in the comments a week or two ago (I couldn’t find it), and I balked because I am among those who instinctively wanted Kobe in the Jordan role and Odom as Pippen. It just made sense to me.

Now maybe it’s time for that experiment to end, or at least take a hiatus — Odom is not Scottie Pippen. What Odom brings is versatility. He’s a beast down low, and if other coach takes that away by throwing someone big on him you just get Odom the ball on the wing and let him drive. He can do a lot of things, but is clearly more comfortable getting the ball closer to the basket than creating his own shot starting out by the three-point line.

Remember, Kobe was the initiator out top of the triangle during the Shaq era, and while different parts of the offense are emphasized now he still knows how to run it and to get his shots. He drove the lane a few times, other times moved through the offense and got the ball in an attack position on the wing and scored that way.

Another thing I saw was how much better the rebounding looked — Kobe grabbed 6 boards (he had averaged 3.6 per game) and several times pushed the ball all the way up on the break ala Magic. Odom had 16 boards, well above his 7.6 average.

Part of how well things went is that Memphis, sans Gasol, is a good match up for the Lakers. But with four days off, the Lakers have time to practice and get used to Kobe out top more. The Lakers can still switch things up — have Smush or Odom set the table at times, depending on matchups.

But Kobe out top was a stabilizing influence out top, and consistency at that spot is something the Lakers have lacked. With Kobe out top we should see much more of it.

31 responses to Getting The Point

  1. Like I mentioned earlier, I think Lamar will still be able to be a solid playmaker from the post position. It’s just that he is so much better scoring from the post than he is on the perimeter. And know that we know Lamar can score like that, it might suit us better to have Kobe be the initiator of the offense. Kobe can be a spectacular playmaker when he wants to be.

  2. Jones, I forgot to mention that both you and kwame a. borached this topic last night. You guys are really fast (and smart).

  3. We seriously need to regulate Smush to the 2nd team. He is not putting a starter statline in there and we know that moving Farmar to starter is not outside the realm of possibility due to Phil’s previous comments. And I cannot abide by the thought process the Smush’s mentality has to be protected or nutured back to what he was doing last season. The man excelled at a point last season but that was not Smush overall. Overall he is a capable back-up, no more. And just because he is mopping around due to the competition, well then he shouldn’t be a starter period.

  4. I agree about Smuch. A few nights ago when Smuch had that 3 at the top of the Arc with ths shot clock running down….he was trying to pass the ball off…saw the time and let instinct take over and the shot looked great…it even had some arc. But his shots where he has time to think about them are flat and dont sink. So he is in his own head I’d say. I guess worried about the starting job….I dont know. But…I think Phil’s mind games arent working as he had hoped on Smush.

  5. Re: Smush- The lakers obviously have a problem at the pg spot right now, and jordan is not the answer, at least not yet. Sasha cannot play at a consistent level and Shammond is getting reacclimated to the leauge, so outside of a trade, Smush is our guy, like it or not. Smush obviously is in a funk and he’s gotta come out of it, but I dont have any solutions to offer, it’s on him to play himself out of it.

  6. Also, another way that Smush, and the other guards, can improve their play is give the ball to Andrew, he’s shooting basically 65% from the field and can pass, it’s a much better option than a three point clank from Smush

  7. I agree with kwame a.
    The current alternative to Smush is Shammon, and Phil put him on inactive last night. Both Farmar and Andrew have somewhat forced Phil’s hand this year – and that is very good for the Lakers long term (read playoff) success – however, Farmar isn’t ready to play starter’s minutes against the best PG in the league. If Phil wants to bring him along I suspect he will be spot starting against certain clubs.

    I don’t subscribe to the theory of having a set starting lineup when the team is as deep as it is and there is no definitive starters after Kobe and Lamar. Phil can set specific roles for each player and have them start when that role is called for, play big minutes when particular combinations face us, and play little when other types of clubs/lineups are present. While that may be a bit unusual, it is not outside the ‘defined role’ of team play. I suspect it would make things even easier come the playoffs, when other teams refuse to change their substitution patterns – we might be their worst nightmare.

  8. History in the making folks. Lakers fan admits Odom isn’t Pippen. The gates have opened. Things can only get better now. The future is bright.

    Next step-> get on my trade Kobe bandwagon. Find the piece that goes with what Lamar IS.

  9. Brilliant analysis, Kurt (and to the posters who hit on the topic earlier).

    Get Odom down low. Get Bynum down low. We’re bigger than most teams, we should be taking advantage of that. Even better, our big guys can score or pass quite skillfully (and until Kwame comes back, they can all catch the ball, too).

    You can’t trade Kobe, dude. The NBA is a superstar’s league moreso than any other sport. The Pistons a couple years ago were the exception (and I’d argue that Billips is a superstar). You cannot win a title without a superstar. In baseball your best pitcher only plays once every 5 games. Your best hitter comes up once every 9 at bats. If football your QB has to pass to someone, and if he doesn’t have an o-line, he can’t even do that. But in basketball, your superstar can handle the play 100% of the time if you want (not a good idea, but he can). Jerry West knows this best, that’s why he traded Battier, a solid player, for Gay, who he hopes will be a superstar. Because without one, you can’t win a ring.

  10. Now that Kobe is essentially our point guard, which I think is wise. It begs the question, could we play Luke at the 2, Odom at 3, and free the 4 spot for Turiaf?Kwame to play a Rodman like role?

  11. Paul, the problem there is on defense: Kobe cannot guard quick point guards right now. I’ve argued before it is not a wise thing to do all game even when he’s 100% because, if I were Nash/Parker/Paul/Bibby I’d drive right at him to try and get him in foul trouble. But right now, that point is moot, and it returns us to the Smush/Farmar discuasion, which has no great short-term answer.

  12. We need to start looking for answers via trade for the point guard discussion. We need to find our DFish/BJ Armstrong/John Paxson point guard. Someone that can hit a three and stay in front of his man. That’s really all we need out of our point guard in this offense. Seriously, is that so difficult to find?

  13. (12) yes it is hard to find. The number of PGs in this league who are both quick on defense and able to shoot the three is very small. I mean think about it, most point guards known for their defense are not good shooters and visa versa.

    The number of players that fit your description:\

    Billups, Paul… I can’t think of any others off the top of my head.

  14. Chris Duhon

  15. Random thoughts…

    “This summer, I didn’t play any ball,” Parker said. “I couldn’t find anywhere to play. I was here half the summer by myself working out, just doing individual work, so I didn’t get the chance to run any.” No place to run in LA?

    If only this team could have been birthed fully formed from the head of Phil Jax on Oct 31… but, alas, it seems that this team will be on a similar trajectory to the team of last season.

    However, I look for things to begin to fall in place post All-Star break, a lot sooner than last year…

    As Stu said last night, “Sasha has fallen out of the rotation, if there is a rotation.”

    Kobe to the point is a step in the right direction as long as he remembers to be a playmaker for four quarters.

    Anyone else find themselves wishing Phil would put Bynum back in last night, conditioning be damned?

  16. John R.,

    Dude, you gotta stop with that trade Kobe nonsense… seriously…

    kwame a.,
    so right… so right…

  17. Ian: Billups is the perfect triangle point guard, but there is no way we are getting him. Deron Williams is probably the best triangle PG out there. On my blog I begged the Lakers to move up and pick him during the 2005 NBA draft. But there are suitable fill ins that aren’t spectacular as the two I just mentioned above, but are still servicable. I personally like Delonte West and Chris Duhon. They both defend and shoot really well.

  18. There may be a time and a situation when trading Kobe is not nonsensical. Now is not that time. He knows the offense better than anybody else and the others are finally coming up to speed. The team finally appears to be shaping up so it would not make sense to undo this progress. I feel like this core will be very good, very soon.
    A team trading for Kobe would probably have to give up its two or three best players – all of which would have to fit perfectly into the team plan. When those two/three players can help the Lakers better than Kobe can, then Mitch will have his toughest decision to make. And even if that scenario occurs in the next couple years, I still think Mitch has to pass and let this core evolve.

  19. I don’t blog. I don’t like attention. Not that that is a value judgement against bloggers because I obviously love basketball blogs, it just isn’t in my nature. And a “haters” comment? At least give me a KG rumor to go with that low level discussion.

    Once you recognize Lamar isn’t Pippen, you should take this to its natural conclusion. From a game theory perspective Pippen existance was a bonafide threat almost on par with Jordan. Put another way, even though Jordan was the best ever, the gap between Jordan and Pippen was not great. Those were 2 of the top 5 players in the game at that time. This was also in effect with Kobe and Shaq. The gap between Kobe and anyone else on the current Lakers is too great. This creates an effect noted a few different times and a few different ways on this blog, that the best offensive option for the Lakers, regardless of situation, is Kobe. If Kobe is triple teamed, are you really happier if he kicks to an open man if those guys are Smush and Kwame? I say no. Just shoot it anyway. A 35 footer by Kobe is still a prime Laker option.

    This is why I say, lop off the top. Even out the threat and find more depth.

    Obviously it is a superstar league. As a basketball fan, this saddens me to no end. However, I have never recommended pulling a Kobe for pieces trade like the Shaq deal. There are other superstars in this league who fit with this team better. Open your minds, it is fear that causes you to reject me outright, not logic.

    Kobe for Billups/Prince/Nazr.
    Kobe for Johnson/Lue. (C’mon thats sick)
    Kobe for Pierce/West.
    Kobe for Redd/Blake.
    Kobe for Hill/Arroyo (Bonus of options when Hill comes off the books after this year…actual rebuilding!)
    Kobe for Parker/Barry
    Kobe for Watson/Allen
    Kobe for Arenas/Haywood

    And thats just off the top of my head keeping it simple if your trade has to include someone who can initiate the offense. They all reasonably work under the cap. I understand not every team would take the trade, but that Atlanta deal is a hot ticket. Get back another superstar and a decent role player or an expiring contract. Get it now before Kobe’s knee is worse than anyone thought. There are enough suckers out there.

    The Celtics have stuck with their single star for years. Sixers too. Wolves. The list of stubborn fanbases and ownerships is long.

    The Lakers seemed to play with joy the two games they didn’t have to endure Kobe, and since then Lamar is “back to his old ways”. Well that’s not how he played with Wade out East. Lets get a little more FD into this squad. Get some chemistry and you’ll up the W’s.

    Your Detroit example is the best answer. No team was more superstar laden then that one that received the 4-1 boot in the finals.

    There is one other double-secret bonus here. Don’t you want to see what Kobe is capable of when not constrained in the triangle?

  20. Seeing kobe in a different system?

    Yeah, it would have been interesting had he played in the world championships.

  21. When I think of Kobe playing in a different system, I think of Rudy T’s isos, so I try to avoid thinking about that whenever possible.

  22. I am not convinced that the Lakers must trade Kobe to address the problem you see, John. Last season, Kobe used about 30% of all Lakers possessions. The closest second was Odom, at only 15%. Both had high ORtg. Kobe: 112.18 Lamar: 110.79. This year Kobe’s percentage has varied from 15% to 28%. Odom is averaging 18%. I believe this is not an accident. The Lakers know that having Kobe use almost a third of all Lakers possessions won’t work this year. That’s why they are experimenting to find a good balance for him and the team.

  23. It is a stretch to say that there are other superstars that fit on this team better than Kobe. This has become Kobe’s team. This is now Kobe’s offense. He is what we know. He is what we want. And yes, there is a fear of trading Kobe. Yet, trading value for value IS logical – especially if the incoming value fills more holes than the outgoing value creates.
    At first, the thought of trading Kobe seems ridiculous. But taking a moment to think about his value is actually exciting. A combination of the Pistons best players is enticing. Billups/Prince/Rip would look great next to Bynum and Odom. The drop off from Kobe to Prince is nothing compared to the gain from Smush+Luke to Billups+Rip. Matter of fact, we would still have Luke as a reserve. But the Pistons would not make that trade and anything short of it would not be acceptable.
    My mind is open, and I am a huge Kobe fan.

  24. I think of the idea of trading Kobe the same way I think of trading Odom for KG, except even LESS likely.

  25. None of those trades that John R. mentioned above helps the Lakers get any better except for possibly the Billups/Prince/Mohammed deal. The only thing about that one is that it doesn’t work under the Salary cap (Detroits salaries total about 19-20 mil while Kobe’s salary is about 17.5 mil this season) and it would be dumb to do that deal because Billups is a free agent and looking for a pay increase (in the 12mil range).

    I think you guys have forgotten how good of a player Kobe Bryant is. He took that garbage team to the playoffs last year. Now that the team has some developing talent in Luke Walton, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum, Etc. we want to talk about trading him. This team is a point guard away from being a serious contender. As well, Laker fans have to learn to be patience. Building a team doesn’t happen overnight. This team went from being out of the playoffs, to making the playoffs and making some noise, and now is one of the better teams in the league. So many fans and Team officials are quick to make change, but believe me it takes time for things to develop.

    The Paul Pierce example is not a good one because the Celtics traded Antoine Walker and were trying to rebuild. As well, they made the BIGGEST mistake of trading Joe Johnson at the trading deadline for role players Tony Delk and Rodney Rogers. Imagine if they would have been able to be a little more patient during that time. They would have a team with Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, and Antoine Walker. Throw in a couple of Midlevel signings and solid draft picks and you have a pretty damn good team.

    The same could be said with the Lakers. When Farmar develops into the point guard he’s going to become the Lakers are going to be very, very hard to handle. Last thought…Take a look at the Utah Jazz this year. Everyone was calling on them to blow the thing up, trade Boozer, etc. But because they held their ground and let their team develop they are going to be a tough team to handle for years. Imagine the Lakers if Farmar progresses the way Deron Williams has for the Jazz.

  26. Ok, I’m going to let this ‘trade Kobe’ talk go, just this once. But next time…oh, it’s on. The dude broke his friggin’ body for this team, dropped 81 to beat the rap’s cuz we couldn’t, and people are thinking of letting him go!?!

  27. Having Kobe be the initiator and putting Lamar in the post is the best thing to do. Lamar needs the ball in his comfort zone to be 100% effective. Being stuck out on top or on the wing takes away from him being able to utilize his whole game. Kobe doesn’t have or need a comfort zone. He can get himself a good shot pretty much anytime he wants to. The hardwood is his comfort zone.

  28. I have to say, suggesting we trade Kobe for Tyronn Lue and Joe Johnson is the most offensive Kobe trade scenario I’ve ever seen. The fact that that one seems to be your favorite, John, makes me physically ill.

    And not that I’m advocating it, but the Kobe for Billups/Prince/Mohammed deal works using the traded player exception since the Lakers could acquire up to 125% + $100k of Kobe’s salary, which is just under $22 million.

    Back to the topic at hand, Lamar in the post. I can’t advocate this enough. I don’t mind him being the initiator (though I do think someone else should be) but he needs to give up the rock posthaste when he does so and get himself established early.

  29. Anonymous – People aren’t thinking of letting Kobe Bryant go. John R. is making that antagonistic suggestion to provoke a response (as he has done many times before) and people are accommodating the provocation.

  30. Totally forgot about the trade exemption. I was so busy trying to find reasons to knock John R’s logic that I lost my head…