Eyeing May

Kurt —  February 28, 2007

Moves that a coach starts making after the All-Star break should have an eye toward his team in the playoffs — and Phil Jackson has long been a master of that. His teams always seem to peak at the right time.

That says a lot about the fact Shammond Williams and Aaron McKie are getting more minutes now while Farmar’s and Sahsa’s are dwindling. There was a great discussion of what the Lakers and the triangle offense needs and expects from its guards in the comments after the Jazz game, so I thought I’d throw some pertinent stats from the last three games played for key guys into that conversation.

Name MPG PPG PP40 Min eFG% 3pt% +/- per 48
Smush 26 13.7 21 69% 50% +13.5
Farmar 10.3 2.3 9.1 31.8% 16.7% -23.4
Sasha 10.4 3.7 14.2 75% 75% -18.5
Williams 17 4.3 10.2 65% 25% +24.5
McKie 8.5 2 9.5 100% NA +32.1
Evans 33.5 15.7 18.7 44.3% 42.9% +10.5

What I see here confirms what I saw in the Boston game — off the bench Shammond is not taking a lot of shots but he’s making those few shots count. He’s playing smart and within himself, and the same can be said of McKie. Sasha is trying to fit in that roll but the bottom line is he’s not doing it well — other teams are outscoring the Lakers when he is on the floor. Farmar is going to be a solid NBA point guard, but we knew coming in his shooting was inconsistent and was an area in need of focus (my guess is next year his shot will be better, in part because he’ll be in better physical condition for the grind of the NBA season, right now he looks leg-weary to me at times, just a bit slower than he did at the start of the season).

Smush is, well, Smush. His defense is at best suspect — and you know how much that troubles me — but his scoring at least somewhat offsets it. To me he remains the best option the Lakers have right now at the point for heavy minutes.

I threw Evans in here because he’s played so well of late. This is a small sample size but to me he is in the + not because he shoots well but because he brings defensive intensity. Right now, even when Walton returns, I think Evans starts because of his defense. Who finishes the game, well, depends on the matchup (if the other team doesn’t get much scoring from the three then Walton is the clear choice, but if we need more of a stopper than go with Evans, it’s win-win really).

The bottom line, with the vets the team is 3-0 and out of its slump. Let’s see what happens against the Kings and especially the Suns this weekend, but you go with what works late in the season and into the playoffs.

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• I really feel for Shaun Livingston, a kid with great talent that we’ve never seen than in more than flashes. I can do nothing but wish him the best and hope he fully recovers, I can’t imagine being 21 and having your carrer threatened in that way. There’s also a bigger picture for the Clipper franchise, which Kevin at Clipper blog put very well:

Shaun has been carrying around the hopes of the (Clipper) Naçion since he was drafted in 2004. On Saturday, he put together what might be the most professional game of his career — a 14 point, 14 assist effort against Golden State. Following the game, Mike Dunleavy said, “Until I tell him to pull back, I want him to push the ball every time and I want him to explore. I want him to use his abilities. That’s what could take us to another level.” And that’s exactly what Shaun is doing in the first quarter when he picks up a steal at the other end and initiates the break with Raymond Felton in pursuit. Four seconds later, Shaun is on the hardwood.

• Kevin also best echoed my sentiments (which I chose not to express directly for the umpteenth time because I feel like I’m preaching to the choir) on Sam Smith’s comments that the venerable columnist in Chicago doesn’t read blogs. Well worth the read. Although, for the record, I differ with Kevin in that I wear boxers.


Kurt

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