Fast Break Thoughts

Kurt —  September 28, 2007

Unless there is some sort of actual breaking news (and no, this doesn’t count), this post and comment section will be a Shawn Marion/Lakers trade free. The previous post comments is where that talk can continue.

• I’m a few days late to this, but it is still worth more discussion.

From his first Summer League with the Lakers, conditioning has been an issue with Andrew Bynum. While his footwork, moves and other fundamentals improved in the last couple years, his physical conditioning seemed to lag behind (you could still see the baby fat). That led to him getting tired (particularly in back-to-backs). And tired leads to sloppy. Which is why it is great to see the off-season focus on conditioning for Drew. It would be a huge boost for the Lakers if he can take a big step forward in his third season — and he is capable of it. (Thanks to Chise for the link.)

• Mitch Kupchak also praises Bynum’s work ethic in an otherwise pretty bland Q&A (what did you expect from the official team site, a Mike Wallace interview?). Part two of that interview is now up.

• Back when there were just a handful of NBA blogs (three years ago, which doesn’t seem that long but in blogging terms its virtually an eon), Matt from Blog-A-Bull (then Bulls Blog) came up with the idea of a Carnival. A chance to link to other NBA bloggers. I’ve hosted once, and it’s a great way to find out about new blogs. The 50th NBA Blog Carnival has been done, and it’s appropriate that Matt is the host.

• Speaking of new blogs….

Kevin Broom has written for RealGM, is active in the NBA statistical online community (he was one of the first to try to improve defensive figures) and bottom line is a guy who just knows the game. When the Lakers traded for Kwame Brown, Broom (who lives in Washington DC) was one of the first guys I talked to. Now he has his own blog, and as you would expect it’s really good. (Hat tip to the omni-present Tom Ziller.)

• A preview of the Southwest Division — in Festivus format, of course. (Another Ziller creation.)

Kurt

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36 responses to Fast Break Thoughts

  1. I’ve said it 1000 times before. Andrew Bynum has all of the skills to be a great center in the NBA. His footwork, size, and basketball IQ are all there. His problem has pretty much been strength and conditioning. Most of the mistakes he made in the game last year came from being tired. Believe me, if he really did work his butt of and really is in NBA shape, Laker fans are going to be glad that he wasn’t traded this summer.

  2. Perhaps this year the FO will not be considered such dunderheads for drafting Andrew. When you draft a very raw 17yr old you have to be able to wait 3-4 years before making ANY evaluations about his ceiling. I expect Andrew’s breakout year will be next year, but I am willing to be wrong and have him shock some doubters this year.

  3. Thanks for the shout-out. I remember that conversation well. I hoped Kwame would grow up in LA and perform to his considerable abilities, but it doesn’t look like that will ever happen. Too bad — the guy was gifted with freakish athleticism.

  4. 4. He is gifted with freakish athleticism, and hes just huge. His problem is just a lack of soft hands (ofcourse) and a general lack of how to play basketball. I don’t think anyone ever taught hwo to correctly play. He was drafted straight out of high school for his size and athleticism then expected to perform at a high level right away. He never got a chance to develop an understanding of the fundamentals of the game and it shows when he plays.

    One funny thing I read about Kwame and it kind gives a little insight into where he cam from and how he grew up. I don’t have the article anymore but it was pretty interesting, so I am just paraphrasing. I guess he grew up in a small city in Georgia, in a pretty poor. Very little exposure to life outside of that area. WHen he was first drafted and went out with the team for dinner at a really classy french restaurant he was surprised that they did not have any french dressing, so from that point on he always brought his own.

  5. 5. i would buy a lifetime supply of french dressing for Kwame Brown if he were able to put up the 16 and 9 he was giving us for the last two months of the 05-06 season. He was one of the primary reasons the Lakers almost knocked off the Suns, and if he can give us 14 and 7 consistently that would be great.

    i still think that when healthy Phil would rather play Kwame, and let Andrew come off the bench. Hopefully kwame is healthy, but like Lamar, I highly doubt it.

  6. Kwame is another of those top level athletes who needs to get extended training in basketball fundamentals. The problem is they are often expected to do so much, above and beyond fundamentals, that it is very difficult – both time-wise and emotionally-wise – so they never discipline themselves to go back and pick this stuff up.

    People like John Wooden drilled that stuff into their players day after day. Now not only are players “above that stuff”, but they also come straight out of high school where there is less fundamental discipline.

  7. I never understood situations like Kwame. We all know that he’s a gifted athlete but he never had that killer instinct to take pride is his trade. Jordan used to go crazy that Kwame was the first to leave practice to go play video games and sleep. I mean we all have our limits but for goodness sakes you’re a professional athlete you dedicate your whole life to dunking a basketball and perfecting your body. The body he has down but the mental aspect is the key here. It was trampled at an early age and it seems that he will never overcome that hurdle. I just wish Kobe could teach this to Kwame but it just doesn’t work like that…if only.

  8. 6. I’d be happy with 8 and a solid 10-11 rebounds. He really does not need to score too much just get rebounds.

  9. 8. I agree. If he could be a force on the boards that would be ideal, but he has never really averaged too many rebounds. Thats why if he could grab 8+ it’d be great. The reason I’d want him to score the ball is to provide more spacing on the court.

  10. With kwame and Andrew its all about whats between their ears. They have no real basketball knowledge that has been drilled into them so that its reflex and instinct. You can see them thinking out there instead of just reacting.
    There is no reason in the world that BOTH OF THEM can’t average 10 &10. With pure hustle and positioning they could do it. THey need to be drilled daily on this stuff and at this level the organization doesnt really have the time to do it. They need to do it themselves. And once again the “desire factor” is the key.
    It sounds like Andrew got some private coaching. Who knows what kwame has done or will do.

    Little guys play because they love the game. Big guys play because they are supposed to play.

  11. You don’t learn fundamentals by teaching yourself. You need coaching, repetition, and a willingness to put in the time. Andrew seems to have the willingness, but I don’t know about Kwame.

  12. Kwame doesn’t have to score, he just has to be a threat to catch the ball and dunk it. That would make a huge difference in the way teams defend Kobe and Lamar.

  13. I got a few suggestions for Kwame. Just whisperi “give me the ball” in Kobe’s ears everytime down the court. This tactic did wonders for Shaq.

  14. i can’t believe there is a guy who plays basketball for a living (and gets paid 9 mil +) and we are hoping he could learn the extremely arduous skill of catching a ball and dunking it…

  15. 14. ha, sad but true. Imagine a doctor who makes 750,000 a year and all the other medical staff around him had to make sure he could take someone’s pulse right, he wouldn’t be a doctor too long.

  16. You’re all forgetting about Chris Mihm’s return…

    About Bynum, I believe he can still grasp some fundamentals and really achieve something higher… Regarding Kwame, I don’t think that we can expect much more than rebounding and solid D and maybe 8 garbage points per.

    If Kwame could give us 8-8 playing C and PF, we would be on our way to a high playoff seed. And the Bynum Mihm combo at C is pretty solid, imo.

  17. Re:#11

    Thats what I meant. Teams don’t have a lot of time to drill the skills into players. They have to hire their own private tutors to learn the skills they need to suceed at their chosen profession….Professional Basketball.

    This is all stuff that should’ve been instilled into these to in high school and college. They obviously didn’t get that coaching early on.

  18. Muddywood,
    I agree there is a lack of fundametals being taught to bigs,but I indict colleges esp harshly. There are about 200 Div 1 Basketball schools and 1/3 of them qualify for the NCAA Tournament each yr. Everyone of those schools has a Center yet how many decent-let alone good Cs-have come from colleges in the past ten yrs? Of the good Cs entering the League from college in the past 25 yrs,nearly half came from Georgetown. If you are a talented big,why would you go to College if the coaches won’t teach you your craft?(For example,how many good NBA Centers has Dean Smith produced?)

    The NBA historically did not have to teach fundamentals and failed to adjust it’s thinking when Hi-Schoolers started to enter in numbers. If NBA Execs were more on the ball they would have hired tutors to work on fundamentals w/draft picks and also an NBA recent retiree to be a mentor as well as practice partner.(And any rules changes needed to allow this would have been done.) Instead they let some Assistant Coach take on the kid as a project in addittion to his other duties.

  19. I honestly believe that fundamentals are not an issue with Bynum at all. He has great footwork and the ability to hit a variety of hooks and up and unders with the left or right hand. Working with Kareem has obviously aided him in this dept. His problems have always been getting off of the floor quickly and explosively, running the floor quickly, and keeping his motor running throughout the entire contest. When he starts making mistakes it’s usually because he’s tired. Believe me, once the kid gets in shape and gets used to being a seven footer he’ll be fine.

    Kwame on the other hand just seems like he doesn’t care enough. He has all of the tools as well. He just has terrible hands and poor concentration around the bucket. As well, he doesn’t do a great job of staying healthy. Although it’s hard to tell, his game has improved over the last two seasons. I mean even his passing improve tremendously last season. But as with Lamar and Luke, injuries kind of stiffled all of the improvement he made last year. But unlike those two, it’s obvious that he doesn’t care that much about his success in the league. The only time I ever saw tremendous passion out of Kwame was game 3 of last year’s playoffs when the entire Staples Center was chanting his name. People want the guy to succeed. People want to see that Caron Butler wasn’t given away for nothing. But after so many fumbles and air balled lay ups you can understand why fans react the way they do to him. If he put as much concentration into basketball as he did into throwing that cake last season, we might have a real interior threat on this team.

    The good thing is that with Mihm back, depth shouldn’t be an issue at the center position. As well, it should enhance competition between everyone. Mihm and Kwame are basically playing for contracts and Bynum is playing to show that the Lakers should trade him.

  20. Webber considering playing in Europe. Does anyone even care anymore about the guy? My guess is that if anyone other than Minnesota calls, he’d rather play in the NBA… my second guess is that no one calls him. The Lakers have neither the roster spot, nor the need for the guy, to make this a Lakers-related post.

  21. Muddywood ,
    You’re not going to get much ‘additional’ coaching and advise in high school, unless you are going to one of these basketball academies. Neither Bynum nor Kwame went to these places. I viewed Bynum as young for his age when he was drafted – he is learning reasonably quickly, apparently – and Kwame is probably ‘battle weary’ by this time and may not be as receptive going back to pick up fundamentals. If Kwame would only do this he could have a better NBA career ahead of him – oh well.

  22. 17.

    Certainly that the team allows Bynum to stay at the gym for an extra hour with someone from the coaching staff, teaching him some fundamentals.

    One extra hour per day is a lot, if you’re training indivual skills—

  23. Renato,

    Kwame can’t play any PF. That’s our problem. Odom, or in case of a trade, Marion, should be playing SF in order for this team to even have a chance at a title.

  24. When I played high school ball. It was drill, drill ,drill on fundamentals so that these things just became habits and instinct. Put a body on someone. Box out. Hands up. Maybe it was just my coach being the Wooden disciple that he was. I hated all those drills. I just wanted to play ball.

    I look at Kwame and I don’t see the results of any such drilling. With bynum you can see that he’s been working at it, but is the burning desire there? You know how you can tell if a player has that desire. By how hard they work on their game in the off season.
    Pretty soon we’ll see how hard Andrew worked and if he worked out because he’s supposed to or because he has the desire to be great.

  25. Re #24

    If Kwame could hit a 10-15′ face up jumper with consistency, our problems would be solved.
    Every PF in the Triangle HAS to be able to hait that shot.

  26. 26.

    This is why I’m praying Turiaf figures out how to not foul as much this season. He’s pretty productive (enough to justify starting) when he’s able to stay on the floor, and he can hit that shot pretty well.

  27. jonesonthenba – “Bynum is playing to show that the Lakers should trade him.”

    That wouldn’t help us. :D

  28. Kwame’s biggest problem is lack of fire/focus.

  29. Kwame is one of the majority of NBA players with a lack of fire. I blame it on the big bucks players make coming out of school. Scratch that, I blame it on the big bucks NBA teams are more than willing to throw at “projects.” If you’re a first round draft pick (especially the #1 overall pick), no team should expect to wait 3 years for you to develop. When you don’t even have to fight for your job…. I don’t know where I’m going with this. It just perpetually frustrates me about today’s NBA. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still the best basketball in the world, and players that live and die with every loss like Kobe and Turiaf make me happy to watch.

    On the side, ESPN Classic played “The Fish That Saved Pittsburg” tonight, first time I’ve seen it. Chick Hearn is the announcer for the home team – speaking of people who make me happy to hear/watch.

  30. arizona green tea September 30, 2007 at 11:14 pm

    i believe the x-factor that would take the lakers far is kwame brown. they would be pretty good if he had the fire, as gdchild said. see game 3 vs. phoenix last year, and that one home game vs. san antonio sometime in december 2006 and you’ll see what i mean. i hope that someone not named kobe would step up and play consistently this year. we’ll obviously have to see how this season pans out: i can’t wait!

  31. 30.

    Bryan, it’s not the best basketball anymore… Now it’s the largest display of individual skill, which is not the same thing.

    That’s the main consequence to the game and the NBA should really be debating the reasons for it.

  32. Renato Afonso,
    All you have to do is discuss the Spurs and the fact that they are fundamentally sound. However, the talking heads don’t like to watch games that are fundamentally sound, but not brassy on-on-one and push their point of view (like Stalin did in the USSR) until they become the prevailing opinion.

    We need some ‘pushback’ somewhere. The problem with having a ‘spy’ in the media is that they fire anyone who doesn’t agree with them.

  33. This is off topic but I thought it was a pretty interesting analysis of consistency for scoring. There are a few names that were surprising but the top one is not at all.

    Lawhorn: The NBA’s Most Consistent Scorers

    http://www.hoopsworld.com/article_23509.shtml

  34. Renato (32) I agree somewhat the the NBA has become a showcase for idividual talent. But could you name a team (any team) that the spurs couldn’t beat. The spurs system is basketball at its finest. The fantastic pointguard who can get the rim and finish anytime he wants, the dominant big guy, who is the most consistent and fundamentally sound player inteh world, shooters (Barry, Bowen, Horry, Finley), scrappy player (Ginobili). No wondert they are the best team in the NBA quite impressive when you write it down

  35. ryan,
    I agree – the Spurs are the best team in basketball, hands down.

    The problem is not the Spurs, but the media.

    They don’t like Spurs basketball. They say it is boring. They repeat their opinion over and over and over. Now the public gets the idea that the ‘people who know’ don’t think the Spurs are watchable and perhaps they should hold that opinion also. It doesn’t help that all ESPN shows of the NBA is spectacular one-on-one highlights.

    We have been conditioned, since ESPN started – read Michael Jordan – to focus on the individual actions and the team will follow. The Spurs put the lie to this ‘junk’ and the media reacts by calling them boring. They don’t want basketball, they want a circus. Perhaps they should focus more on professional wrestling.