Archives For October 2007

NBA Bloggers Previews: The Central

Kurt —  October 16, 2007

LeBron James. Loul Deng. Jermaine O’Neal. Chauncy Billups.

The Central is the loaded division in the Eastern Conference, with it very likely whoever comes out of the east comes out of this division. To learn more about the teams, check out these blogger previews.

Chicago Bulls

Cobra Brigade
Bull Riding

Cleveland Cavaliers

YAYSports!
The POJO Dojo
Cavalier Attitude
Truth in a Bullet Fedora (Love that blog name.)

Detroit Pistons

PistonsNationBlog
Need4Sheed
Empty The Bench
Motoring

Indiana Pacers

Indy Cornrows
Pacers Pulse

Milwaukee Bucks

Bango’s Bunch

Archives

CelticsBlog NBA Page

Bynum’s Turn?

Kurt —  October 15, 2007

It’s no bit news that one of the keys to the Lakers improving this year is better play out of the center spot. And most Laker fans would wish for Andrew Bynum to be the guy takes a big step forward, improves his game and takes charge of the position.

But what we’ve seen through the first two preseason games from a more fit looking Bynum is some of the inconsistency that we’ve seen in years past — for example he looked great in the first half against Golden State last Thursday, then like the worst player on the floor for a stretch in the second half.

Drew realizes this is a year he should step forward, and said that in an interesting interview with the LA Times last week. He also understands that Phil is leaning another direction right now (although Bynum may not fully understand why).

“This year’s the year,” he said. “I kind of think we go as far as our young guys take us, me and Javaris [Crittenton] being the young guys, going out there and getting some things done on our second unit. I’m still trying to go out there and be a starter, but as of right now, I think Phil [Jackson] is favoring Chris Mihm — veteran status and all that.”

Note to Drew: Coaches are big on consistency. Real big.

Tom Ziller read that article and posted some interesting thoughts over at Fanhouse, talking about how he is impressed with Bynum’s maturity.

Bresnahan brings up comparisons to Jermaine O’Neal’s long maturation process with the Blazers. There’s a big difference, though: Bynum’s been given a real chance. Drew logged almost 1,800 minutes last year; J.O. didn’t get near that level until his age-22 season (his first in Indiana). And Bynum had a good year — his offensive numbers were solid, his defense was no worse than any other Lakers big.

All this Kobe ‘win now’ business has flipped our conventional wisdom on Bynum — sure, he’s not ready to dominate right now. But he’s on the path to being a very good player within a few years. He’s certainly a mile ahead of where J.O. was at this age.

It’s tough to gauge how much faster JO’s game would have matured if he had been given minutes early in his career. But even if you think Bynum can someday be a JO level player (and I’m not sold on that), the question of time is a real one for the Lakers.

There are no easy answers to this one.

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If you want to see some thoughts on the Lakers season as a whole, a Lakers preview I did for Dennis Velasco at about.com is up. The themes in that preview — better defense, need for better play at the five — will look familar to regular readers here. To cut to the bottom line, I have the Lakers at 46 wins this season if the roster remains as is (sorry, Dr. Buss, but you need a lot of breaks to reach 50 wins and I don’t think they’ll all fall your way). I’ll have a more detailed Laker preview on this site closer to the end of the month. In the mean time, check out the about.com one, as well as the previews of the rest of the Pacific and the NBA from other team bloggers.

Also, over at Clipsnation, the 51st Carnival of the NBA is up, with thoughts (and lots of video) from NBA bloggers around the spectrum.

Game two and other thoughts.

Kurt —  October 12, 2007

I tried to watch all of the Warriors/Lakers game two, but I fell asleep about the end of the third quarter. I don’t think this can be emphasized enough — don’t read much into these games. Kevin at Clipperblog said it well, “The lineups throughout the course of the game are like those David statue fridge magnet that you can dress with atrociously assembled outfits.” The Lakers ran a late first half roster out there that had Kobe running the point, Coby Karl at the two and Larry Turner at the five. Fairly sure we won’t see that when the games matter.

That said, here are some notes from the game:

• On the bright side, Ronny Turiaf looked a lot better on the offensive end — great post spin move on the block early in the first quarter; next trip down nice pass in the paint that led to a foul and free throws; two possessions later Ronny gives a little up-fake to get his defender in the air, drove the lane then when the defense rotated he made the kick-out pass to Fisher in the corner for the three.

• But the bigger problem was that “Ronny the foul machine” was back with two personal fouls in the first 5 minutes, three within 7:30. Keep that up and he will play his way out of the starting lineup.

• Without Barron Davis in the lineup the Warriors actually played faster — 10 more possessions than two nights ago — but the offense looked and felt far more disjointed. Davis is their glue.

• That said, they still shot 51% (eFG%) for the game (second game in a row where they were over 50%). I still thought the Lakers defensive rotations looked a little better early on, then they broke down as the lineups became an experiment.

• I thought Bynum looked better — he showed some strength inside, both on the boards and with a couple strong dunks on passes inside. Still there are little things to be worked on (like getting a foul for a moving pick, then a leg foul when he showed on a pick and roll). I thought he looked better on pick-and-roll defense than Mihm.

• Farmar’s decision making and shooting may not be ideal, but he looks more confident this year.

Now some non-game thoughts and links.

• Smush Parker was held out of Miami Heat practice one day last week for failing to meet team conditioning standards. Just a bit of schadenfreude.

• I have incredibly high hopes for this — Basketball Prospectus. The focus is on primarily college, but if Ken Pomeroy is on board I’m reading about the NCAA. On the NBA end, Kevin Pelton is one of the writers. I’m looking forward to this.

• NBA.com has its own new group blog, with plenty of talent on display. Should be interesting to follow as well.

• Festivus on the Southwest.

• Friend of the site Carter Blanchard looks back at a pivotal moment in Kobe’s career.

• Next time LeBron James blows a layup in the NBA Finals, we’ll know why.

NBA Blogger Previews: The Southwest

Kurt —  October 12, 2007

NBA Previews are rolling in, and this week it is the insanely deep Southwest that gets the bloggers attention. Check them out.

San Antonio Spurs

Spur of the Moment
Pounding the Rock

New Orleans

Hornets 24/7
The New Orleans Hornets Fan

Memphis

Shades of Blue

Houston

HoopsBlogging

Dallas

Showboating

Archives

CelticsBlog NBA Page

It’s blown up all over — Jerry Buss sat down with reporters in Hawaii and said he’d consider trading Kobe. He doesn’t want to, but he’ll consider it.

There are plenty of people saying this “dumped gasoline on the almost extinguished fire,” but if Buss had come out and said “we will never trade Kobe” that is what would have set #24 off again.

If you read both stories (LA Times and OC Register) I think this is just Buss being honest about what happened this summer. First, Kobe goes Vesuvius. Eventually Kobe sat down with both Mitch and Buss and, as Buss said, they made their pitches and Kobe said he is still frustrated and would like out. Then I think they both told him “if that’s what you want, we’ll keep an open mind, but we’re not going to trade you for Luther Head and an expiring contract or two.” Buss said he’s kept Kobe apprised of the lowball offers that rolled in, so Kobe would understand.

If Buss had played to the fans and taken a hard line in the interview — directly contradicting what he told Kobe to his face — that is what would have destroyed what is left of his relationship with Kobe, it would have hardened Kobe’s heart toward opting out regardless of what the Lakers did. So Buss professed his love of Kobe, said he wants to make moves that would keep him here (“”I wish he felt differently. And if we win, I think he will feel differently. So we’ll just wait and see if we can win.”) and at the same time put other GMs on notice that they will not be taking lowball offers — come for real or don’t come at all.

And I’m not sure any of this is really a big shocker. Kobe knows that his frustrated outburst hurt his chances of being traded (or getting a trade that would help him out) so he will continue to say all the “good soldier” stuff. If Buss had taken any other tack in that interview, things might have been different.

Buss traditionally does one of these camp interviews, and he usually looks big picture. He’s got short-term issues (Kobe, not to mention Phil’s contract) but panicking on these issues is how teams end up with the Knicks roster from last season.

So, we wait and tonight watch game two of the Lakers and Warriors. As was said after the last game, the Warriors are a team that makes many a defense look disjointed. What we want to see is improvement — from players and the team — as the preseason wears on. So that is what I’m looking for.