Filling the Needs

Kurt —  October 5, 2007

As has been discussed here — and will continue to be discussed here, I’m guessing — the Lakers need improved play on defense this year, and in particular better play at the point and at center. Well, just so happens, early in camp Phil is working on putting in a new defensive philosophy, and the one and five have been some of the more interesting battles in camp so far, according to reports.

On defense the Lakers are getting away from all the switching they were doing on pick-and-rolls, and the idea of letting the big hang back to prevent penetration (according to Broderick Turner at the Press Enterprise):

Jackson said they changed their defensive philosophy this season, going away from a switching defense and having their big men stand back on screens set on the outside.

He’ll ask his centers, Kwame Brown, Andrew Bynum and Chris Mihm, to step out and show more on defense.

Bynum, because of his 7-foot frame and long wingspan, is better at blocking shots. Brown, because of his quickness and athleticism, is better at stepping out on screens and recovering. Mihm, because of his athleticism, is good at blocking shots and stepping out.

The Lakers also apparently spent a lot of time working on proper defensive rotations. After last season, I’m not sure they can work on that enough.

At center, it has been Bynum (fresh off that off-season conditioning program) that has impressed, at least according to Mike Bresnahan at the LA Times:

Bynum has looked better on defense with his rebounding and shot-blocking so far.

It would be huge if he could step up and become more of a force on the defensive end — it’s what we’ve all hoped for. Mihm has stayed healthy and is probably playing his way into shape and learning to trust his ankle. Kwame is still sidelined and trying to get healthy.

Out at the point, the camp consensus seems to be that Fisher starts but is subbed out early (as we’ve said here, at 33 and with a long season, I’d like to see him around 20 minutes a game). It’s who is getting the minutes behind him that could be interesting.

one of the frothier battles of camp so far has been the daily head-to-heads between Crittenton, this year’s first-round pick, and Farmar, last year’s first-rounder.

Crittenton, listed at 6 feet 5 and selected 19th overall, is three inches taller than Farmar and has already made somewhat of an impression.

“We’ll see more obviously as exhibition games ensue, but at this point, he’s got the skills that we like,” Jackson said. “He’s got the speed, he’s got the verve. He takes the risks that I think are important for a guard and knows the value of the ball.”

If — and that is a mighty big if — Crittenton can continue to impress, this might be a situation where as the season wears on his minutes go up (stealing minutes from Farmar and Fish). Apparently his shooting needs work, and it takes a while to learn the triangle, but he could grow into the position.

We’ll see how all of this plays out in actual games, but it should make the exhibition season a little more entertaining than normal. And it’s always good to hear about camp battles and guys pushing each other at your weakest positions.


Don’t forget about the East. You know, the games that are already in the start of the fourth quarter when we get home from work here in Los Angeles (unless they are on TNT, in which case you can count on them running long and you missing the first eight minutes of the Lakers game because TNT doesn’t cut away).

The first week of Blogger NBA Previews are in, and they are all about the East. The myriad of Celtics bloggers are excited — as they should be — and all predict between 48-50 wins. We’ll see, I think they have some very exploitable parts outside the big three, but in the East that may not matter until the playoffs (or even the second round of said playoffs). Check out the preview on the Celtics from one of my personal heroes, Jeff from Celtics Blog, as well as from LOY’s Place, Celtics 17, Red’s Army, Celtics 24/7 and Green Bandwagon.

There are also previews for the Nets from Hooplah Nation and Nets Daily, for the Knicks from Straight Bangin’ and Poasting and Toasting, for the Sixers from Passion and Pride, and for the Raptors its another of my favorite sites, HoopsAddict.

If you want them all in one place, here is the archive. Happy reading.