Preview and Chat: The Philadelphia 76ers

Kurt —  December 31, 2006

Bad Charlotte. It was maybe the ugliest Laker game of the season. On offense, it was a game where Kobe was hot early, so everyone else seemed to spend the rest of the game (and particularly the overtimes) just throwing him the ball, clearing out and letting him go one-on-one. Kobe clearly got tired as the Bobcats turned their focus to him (as noted in the LA Times today, Kobe Bryant made 16 of his first 27 shots but only six of his last 18). Commenter skigi said it well — the triangle offense can get everyone good looks if you just run it properly.

Then there is the pick and roll defense. This really is a team failing. Smush gets easily rubbed off picks, always has, and can be slow to recover. Phil was right in his comments about Kwame – last game was not the first time that he laid back off the pick and roll, both Wade and Arenas took great advantage of it. Last season, the majority of time (65% in a short study I did) the Lakers “showed” on the pick-and-roll, meaning Kwame or Mihm would step out on the ball carrier and not let him run right at the basket until Smush could recover. This season Kwame seems not to want to go much above the free throw line, I had thought that was by design but apparently it is Kwame not feeling comfortable out that far. And finally, Kwame’s complaints were right that the rotations behind him were often late. I’m sure we’re going to be dissecting and discussing this again, but there is room for improvement all over the place.

But here are the important things – the Lakers were still 3-3 on the trip, they are 5-5 since Lamar went down (I count the Houston win where Odom played 3 minutes). That is not great, but it’s not bad. Phil’s big picture philosophy can be frustrating, but he’s right that this team needs to grow and improve over the course of the season. This was an ugly bump in that road, but it’s one game. There are things to learn from, but the team also needs to move on.

Goodbye ball. Tonight will be the Lakers (and the league’s) last game with the “new” composite ball. It will be interesting to see if there are any dramatic changes in shooting with the new/old ball.

Green to Germany. Devin Green has decided the NDLB, and waiting for a guard spot to open up on the Lakers, is not for him. He is off to play for Rhein Energie in Germany. Some media have questioned why he would do this, but for the most part the pay for a top European team (and apparently this is one) is way better than the D-League. And while the team has just four Euroleague games left, it has a 20-game league schedule remaining.

The point guard for Philly. Gone is the guy who can score on anyone, in is the underrated Andre Miller. In his four games with the Sixers Miller is averaging +45 per 48 minutes, and he’s is doing it by setting up teammates (31% of his possessions have ended in an assist). The current configuration of the Sixers is much better with him on the floor and his 15.5 points and 8 assists per game.

By the way, the book on Miller is similar to the one on Steve Nash – make him a shooter. Miller is shooting just 45.5% in his last four games, and a pedestrian 47.5% on the season.

Who is benefiting from the change?
Andre Iguodala is having a good year, with a PER of 18.25, but he’s been playing better of late. In his last 10 games he is shooting 54.2% (eFG%) and 38.9% on threes – all of his numbers have been a little since AI was benched, and Iguodala said that the reason for his improved play the last four is Miller is getting him good shots.

Also playing well is Samuel Dalembert, who is shooting 57.6% and grabbing 17.1% of the available rebounds when he is on the floor this season. The Lakers also need to keep an eye on Kyle Korver, who is shooting 44.3% on threes for the season, but has been cold since AI left and is shooting just 30.6% from beyond the arc in his last 10.

Things to look for:
Drunk drivers. If you are going out for NewYear’s Eve tonight, don’t drink and drive. And be careful on the roads, too many people don’t follow that advice.

As for the Laker/Sixers game, this is one the Lakers should win, and I expect that they will bounce back with a lot of energy, particularly on defense. I have a gut feel this could be blowout win,

Defensively, the Sixers have struggled most to defend the small forward spot, although the entire front line has been a weak spot this season. So, good chance for Kwame, Luke and the gang to bounce back and show they can contribute.

Iguodala is going to be matched up on Kobe, which should make for an interesting match up. However, having one of the Sixers’ best scorers (he had a career high 32 in Portland Friday) expending that much energy on the defensive end should be a plus for the Lakers.

Have a happy New Year!!

Kurt

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12 responses to Preview and Chat: The Philadelphia 76ers

  1. Happy New Year, everyone. We’ve got a strong team and a lot to look forward to in 2007. Not a championship, but alot of progress. The big question will be how we can make up for the absence of Luke Walton in 07-08. If we can do that, we’re a championship caliber team that year.

  2. does anybody know the extent of kwame’s injury?

  3. No word yet, x-rays were inconclusive, but it looked bad

  4. Good shooting night for Kobe (15-22) following a big scoring night. This must mean he’s just getting back to full strength. He may need to score a lot ’till Kwame and Lamar get back. For the sake of the team, lets hope its not a severe sprain. good thing is the lakers have 3 days off ’till the next game. The team is playing Sac, Den, Dal, Mem, Hou the next two weeks. Aside from Pau Gasol, there’s no legit big man to cover if Kwame cant play for the next week or so. By the way, is there an update on Lamar?

  5. Gasol is out. Odom is at least 2 more weeks

  6. Our starting 5 is out. Our starting 4 is out. Our starting 2 is at less than full strength. I think we just lost any chance for home court in the first round. Now I just hope we don’t slip to 6th and have to play one of the Texas teams in the first round.

    Interesting tidbit from foxsports: The Lakers are the only team in the league this year not to have played a game decided by 3 points or less.

  7. John (Vancouver-JAPAN!) January 1, 2007 at 5:09 am

    Am I missing something? Why won’t we have big Luke from 07-08?

    Kwame has always been a good defender and boosted our defense rating as Kurt has shown many times on the site. Then again, there is always a silver lining…

    MORE TURIAF :D

  8. The Lakers have 9 players under contract next year, due $57.6MM (hoopshype). The salary cap this season was $53MM (51% of basketball revenue). Next season the cap remains at 51%, so estimate a $55MM cap. The LAkers are already over that.

    Luke is in the last year of his contract, and I figure he’s due Shane Battier numbers, around $5MM per. That’s money we’re already giving to Vlade. Bye Luke.

    Smush and Turiaf are also in contact years. So in the offseason we’ll replace 1 sub & 2 starters (assume Farmar and Vlade slide into the rolls, so we’ll have to fill 3 contributing bench player roles) with money we don’t have since we’re already over the cap and already paying out our exceptions. I want Luke, I just don’t think we can afford him next year.

  9. hey 1. are you referring to Luke leaving the team as a free agent? certainly a possibility, but can’t think about stuff like that now. i assume we’ll do our best to get him signed. that kind of negativity is too Larry Brown-ish for this website :)
    alright, no kwame or lamar for at least 1-2 weeks, that’s about 13’9″ of bodies we are missing. let’s hope turiaf and cookie can step up and play some physical ball. kwame can’t let this keep him down. he’s a good player and we need him for the stretch run. it’s only january. Happy new year laker fans!!!

  10. I think we’re allowed to keep our players even if we go over the cap right?

  11. Yeah, Kobe and Odom eat up a huge chunk of the cap. On the other hand the Mavericks have been able to run a conteding team while being over the cap for years now, so its not an impossibble feat. I just don’t quite understand why Cook is making 3.5 mil a year for so long.

    I also believe that you can extend your own players contracts even if you don’t have he capspace, as long as you don’t mind paying luxury tax. It is called the Larry Bird rule. Luke would have to have been with the lakers for 3 years, which by my count he has.

  12. You can go over the cap to resign players on your team, as Ian said Buss and most owners are not that concerned with the cap, they want to avoid the luxury tax level, which is about $64 million. Frankly, if the Lakers are going to reup with Cook they had better strike a deal with Walton. Letting him go — unless some other team comes in with a max offer or some other stupid amount of money — would really tick me off.