Player Pairs (and some other stuff)

Kurt —  December 18, 2006

Now that we’re 23 games into the season — and Phil Jackson has seemingly tried every possible lineup combination in his search for a rotation — that an interesting thing to do is start looking at player pairs. Specifically, what players are playing well with each other (using +/- and other numbers).

For example, who is best paired with Kobe so far? How about Sasha Vujacic — they’ve only played 38 minutes together (not including Washington) and the team’s offensive rating during that time is 121.6 (points per 100 possessions) and during those times opponents have had an offensive rating of just 90.5. There must be something to this because Sasha’s overall numbers are not nearly that good, is it because a spot-up shooter plays well off Kobe?

That said, Kobe has played will with Lamar Odom (the two are +67 in their 533 minutes), Kwame Brown (+60 in 286 minutes), Luke Walton (+43 in 512 minutes) and Smush (+39 in 473 minutes).

One thing that jumps out at you is just how much better this team is with Kwame Brown on the floor. Kwame leads the team in +/- (he is +11.8 per 48 minutes, Kobe is second at +8.5) and every player on the team is in positive numbers (in terms of +/-) when he is playing. It’s pretty clear, right now he is the presence inside for this team, particularly on the defensive end.

Check out all the numbers for yourself, but here are a few more quick observations:

• There aren’t enough minutes to see how well Brown and Turiaf would work together (they have great numbers but just in a couple minutes), but I’d like to see how that combo works.

• Last season Smush was in the positive with every teammate, this season it is just four of them. And the pairing of Parker and Radmanovic has been weak (again, before the Washington numbers) with an offensive rating of 95.8 and a defensive rating of 113.1 — basically the Lakers are being outscored by 17.3 points per 100 possessions when these two play together. So far at least (it was just 50 minutes before Washington).

• Bynum is struggling with everyone except Mo Evans. That’s what Bynum’s inconsistent play gives you (I’m trying not to get too down on a 19 year old, but I agree with kwame a. in the comments that I’d like to see more Turiaf at the center spot on the night’s Bynum is slow on defensive rotations. For example, the Lakers needed to send a hard-foul message to the Wizards’ guards (not Mardy Collins hard, but a firm clean foul) and the only one I remember was Turiaf on Butler.


Two other things to point you too worth reading. One is another, as always, brilliant bit of insight from Roland Lazenby on his blog:

The Lakers have a 27 point lead in the fourth quarter in Houston, then watch the Rockets furiously whittle it down to 2 and still the Lakers wind up winning on a series of missed Rockets free throws and a no-call (yes, Winter said it looked to him like Kwame Brown goal-tended on that late shot attempt).

Then, the Lakes are down by 21 in a rematch with the Rockets at home in Staples Center and somehow end up winning in double-overtime.

“Unbelievable,” Winter said.

So is the epiphany.

Which came at the tail end of all the fury. That’s when Winter saw the truth that had been sitting under his own nose for years now.

“In this coaching business, you have to be a Zen master,” he realized.

The other is a great interview with Jeff from Celtics Blog over at I say that not just because Jeff says nice things about me (although that never hurts) but also because it is a great chance to learn a little about a pioneer and maybe the best NBA team blogger out there.

Oh, and David Stern brought out the iron first today. The Lakers will get one game against the depleted Nuggets (Jan. 5 at Staples).

to Player Pairs (and some other stuff)

  1. By the way, John Hollinger at ESPN in his chat hit the nail on the head with these suspensions, I think:

    Ryan (Dallas, TX): Thugs!! I’m done watching basketball. I’ve supported the post Jordan era, no talent thugball for too long. no more. If there was a military draft, all these thugs in the NBA should be first in line. They might learn some discipline.

    SportsNation John Hollinger: This is why Stern feels like he needs to come down so hard — because a lot of casual fans feel this way. How basketball gets lumped into this but not the NFL is mind-boggling to me (I believe the Bengals have more arrests this year than the entire NBA put together), but as they say, perception is reality.


  2. Whatever you think about David Stern, he is a brilliant strategist. He saw the writing on the wall with the players’ lawsuit and backed off. The MSG fight is exactly why he did so. The man preserved his power to run the league by giving in to points the players were willing to fight over. Points he felt were not integral to his running of the league. It is only coincidence that this fight came so quickly on the heels of his acquiescence on the new ball and zero-tolerance policy. But it perfectly showcases why he did so. With those other issues behind him, he can hand down the hefty suspensions and fines that he feels will keep the integrity of the game intact. If he had foolishly drawn a line in the sand over the new ball, the punishments over the MSG fight may have come under fire by the player’s union too. Now, they won’t. It doesn’t matter if you like Stern or his policies, you gotta admit he knows how to pick his battles.


  3. This is why the sports guy is always saying Stern would make a great president.


  4. Does anyone else feel like if Carmelo got 15 games, that Raja Bell got off way too easy with 1 game? The desparity there seems unconcionable.


  5. In terms of the suspensions, I thought Nate Robinson got off light.


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  7. It’s in the news that PJ Brown is asking for a trade and the bulls are more than welcome to do it. With Lamar out for a month, don’t you think the team needs a steady hand at the 4? (defensively more than offensively). Brown fits that need, and when he comes back, they’ll have a consistent-veteran back up for him. I’ve always thought that Brown is a perfect fit for the triangle because of his D and very reliable medium range shot. He’s a Horace Grant type of player (very professional, knows his role, will never demand touches and works hard defensivley). How about Mihm for Pj Brown? the bulls don’t need an extra player anymore and his expiring contract will be good for them. Also, the lakers have a 2mil injury exception right?


  8. PJ is also an $8 million expiring contract, so you’re going to have to give up a fair amount to get him, then resign him.


  9. wow! i didn’t know he costs that much… anyway, big win by the lakers earlier!the whole team contributed, especially evans and vlade. they are getting more comfortable in the triangle