Archives For January 2007

Staples Center Mini-Me

Kurt —  January 13, 2007

Did you know that when the Indiana Pacers were in town last month they held their morning shootaround at the home of LA Gear CEO Steven Jackson — who has a full-size replica of the Staples Center court in his house.

Henry at True Hoop had the details this week (and if you read one post this week, this should be it):

Steven Jackson, who is now the chairman of L.A. Gear, is a big name in Los Angeles basketball. His name comes up a lot, mostly because of the unbelievable gym at his Bel Air house where NBA players, insiders, bigwigs and even the occasional blogger (I have heard) cavort with regularity.

That blogger isn’t me, it’s friend of the site Nate from Jones on the NBA. Read Henry’s post and learn about Jermaine O’Neal working out there, Brandon Roy working out for scouts at this court, and more.

Preview and Chat: The Orlando Magic

Kurt —  January 12, 2007

Kobe? He’s listed as probably and a game-time decision after the groin strain the other night. Yes, it would leave the Lakers incredibly short handed if he sat, but it’s a long season so I lean toward rest rather than pushing it if there is any pain or concerns.

Orlando is hot. They come in winning five straight, and they are doing it with defense. Their offense hasn’t been spectacular — only Dwight Howard and Trevor Ariza are shooting over 50% in the last 10 games. Howard has been spectacular, he comes in off a 30 point, 25 rebound game (against the lacking inside game of Golden State).

What is fueling the Magic is teams are shooting just 44.5% (eFG%) against them in the last 10 games. The Lakers are shooting 52.3% on the season. It’s always easy to say “the team that shoots better will win” but tonight the Lakers field goal percentage is something to watch.

Last meeting with Orlando. The Lakers won handily, by 13, in the game where Smush had the big third quarter (coincidentally after Sasha had a good second quarter). The Lakers pulled away at the end of the third and never looked back. Kobe had 27 and Smush 20. For the Magic, Grant Hill had 20 but Kwame Brown held Howard to 12 points and 8 boards.

The Magic spread their possessions out fairly well between Jameer Nelson, Hill, Howard, Darko and Carlos Arroyo. Trevor Ariza had a nice game as well, shooting 62.5%. The Magic ran their offense often through the high pick and roll, but the Lakers were sagging then. One of the positives the last couple games is that Bynum seems to have gotten the message and was out hedging on the ball handler coming off the pick, that could help the Lakers tonight. Last game the Lakers switch on the pick a lot, but the Magic did a poor job of exploiting the mismatches.

For the Lakers, it was a hot shooting night for basically every Laker save Kobe (who, of course, took the most shots). Smush shot 75%, Waton 64% and Cook 87%. Of late Kobe has been better about making sure those guys get shots when hot, so I expect more out of them — and if Kobe sits they are going to have to be huge.

Battle of the future. Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum. It’s going to be fun to watch these two match up for the game. No predictions, although it’s safe to say that Howard’s game is a little more polished than Drew’s right now. Last meeting Kwame was able to be physical with Howard and kept him in check, we’ll see what Drew can do.

I expect teams are going to try to establish their bigs so this will be a fun matchup to watch in the first quarter.

As a side note, I wonder if we coming into a little “golden age” of talented bigs again, with these two plus guys like Oden and Durant coming in next season, Love and his Bill Walton style below the rim game going to UCLA then likely the NBA. Yao is still pretty young (even though it seems he’s been around forever). That’s a lot of talent.

Thing to look for: Chris Webber in the stands.

Whither Webber?

Kurt —  January 12, 2007

It’s been the hot topic in the comments, but I wanted to wait until there was proven interest from the club before really delving into it. Apparently the Laker front office is interested.

The Times reported that the Lakers are one of five teams on Webber’s short list, according to his agent. Last night David Aldridge (who broke the Iverson trade story) said on the TNT broadcast the Pistons were a done deal, but then Webber himself said no deal was set.

First, lets look at the money and the roster spot. If the Lakers buy-out McKie, nobody weeps. The Lakers can offer Webber $1,178,348 according to Eric Pincus, the same amount as the Pistons. Big money offers will not be rolling in for Webber and what’s left of his knees, but my guess is someone else will offer more; Miami has its full mid-level exemption left to offer.

The bigger question, how well does Webber fit in with these Lakers?

First, how important is playing time to Webber? Because in LA he would be coming off the bench, one of the backups for Lamar Odom. That’s a crowded spot of guys who can hit the jumper, with Radmanovic and Cook getting time as well. If playing time is a priority for Webber, I doubt he’ll be a Laker.

On the floor, it’s pretty easy to picture Webber in the high post of the triangle, making smart passes to cutters and hitting the 15-foot jumper, generally being a good fit with the offense. And he is still a good passer — 18.1% of his possessions end in an assist (only Luke, Odom and Farmar have a higher percentage on the Lakers). And he can still grab rebounds, with the Sixers he grabbed 16.5% of the available boards (only Bynum at 17.6% is higher on the Lakers).

But Webber’s shot is fading — he’s shooting just 38.7% (eFG%) overall this season and 28.5% from the outside. For comparison, Radmanovic is has been off his game and is shooting 47.9%.

Then there is his defense, which is not good — opposing fours have a PER pf 17.9 and shoot 51.5% against him. Of course, those numbers are basically identical to Cook’s, and as Webber spent much of the season as a starter he likely faced a little stiffer competition. Surprisingly, Radmanovic is a little better than both of them on the season against fours (PER of 15.9, close to the league average, and opponents shoot 49.7%).

Bottom line for me — right now with all the injuries Webber sounds like a panacea, a guy who can give the team a boost. But how does he fit in longer-term with this team? Odom will be back in the next couple weeks, Kwame next month. Webber would be fighting for minutes in a crowded position, fighting with guys who are younger and, in the case of Radman, is just starting to figure out the offense.

I don’t think signing Webber is a bad move, but it’s a short-term answer. And I think if the Lakers are making moves it should be for the longer term, guys who will still be players in three years.

Tickets Wanted

Kurt —  January 11, 2007

Regular readers and commenters here may recognize Xavier, a Laker and hoops fan living in Barcelona.

He’s using his spring break to come to Los Angeles and is going to try to catch a couple of Laker games — but buying tickets while overseas has proved problematic for him. Most of the ticket exchange places won’t ship outside the United States.

So, he’s looking for a little help — if you have tickets to the April 1 game against Sacramento that you are willing to sell, Xavier will buy them off you. (He already has tickets to Memphis the previous week.) If you want to help, send him an email.

Thanks for helping out. And by the way, if you’re still wondering who Xavier is, maybe you remember over the summer when he wrote this:

please, DON’T SING SHAMOND WILLIAMS.

the 2 teams of my city are Joventud ( rudy fernandez’s team) and Barcelona ( JC Navarro, Pau Gasol ex-team… and Shamond Williams last team)

ACB (spanish league) is the strongest domestic league in europe and it’s doubtful that if a player can’t play great basketball or to show potential there, he wont contribute in the NBA. and shammond was just above average playing the PG. Sergio Rodriguez played better than him, he’s younger and was drafted 1 spot after Farmar.
This season Shammond was a shoot first player who wasn’t a great defender and who had some important turnovers… i think that Wafer will play a better basketball for the lakers than Williams, and Wafer it’s not the answer so imagine.

So much I’d like to write about, so little time because work is really hectic for me. So here are a couple conversation starters, and in the comments add your own thoughts about last night and tonight.

• Kobe Bryant, best selling jersey in the NBA.

• It bothers me to lose to teams the Lakers are better than, such as Memphis. This team has the annoying habit of playing to the level of its competition. But step back and look at the big picture — Odom is out, Kwame is out, and the Lakers are 7-3 in their last 10. I can’t get that worked up over this one misstep.

• Smart move by Phil last night to bench key players in a losing cause, saving a little something for tonight.

• No Yao tonight, but in his eight games back McGrady is averaging 30 points while shooting 51.3% (eFG%), 40.4% from three, The Rockets have been getting solid play also out of Howard, Battier and Mutombo. They are 7-3 in their last 10.

• Win tonight and the Lakers win the season series with the Rockets, giving them the tiebreaker for payoff seeding, if it comes to that.