View From Behind The Bench

Kurt —  November 17, 2007

Friend of the site Nate Jones — better known as Jones on the NBA, he of his own blog and Fanhouse — sat behind the Lakers bench last night. He posted some observations in the comments that I thought deserved their own space.

I sat right behind the Lakers bench last night. First of all, Ronny Turiaf is the man. He’s pretty much the only player that will respond to fans and idiots in the crowd during the game. The guy is just hilarious. I’ll be glad when he gets back so Brian Cook can take his rightful place at the end of the bench.

Speaking of Cook. He is terrible. A power forward who is a poor rebounder, shot blocker, and defender. Total opposite of Ronny. Plus he shoots like he has a Kobe Bryant green light. I also feel like he doesn’t know the offense that well. Or at least it looked that way to me last night.

Rip v. Kobe was fun to watch. If the Lakers can get scoring from others, then Kobe can do more of what he did to Rip last night. Watching those two, I can tell that it has to be very annoying to guard that guy. He runs off of a ton of picks, and pushes, grabs, and slaps his way to open positioning. Kobe pointed out what he was doing to the refs and the refs started calling Rip for offensive fouls. Rip hates getting shown up by Kobe because they were rivals in the PA area during high school.

Jordan Farmar is the difference maker on this team. When he is in the game he totally changes the way the Lakers play. He’s aggressive on defense and then pushes the ball at every opportunity. He gets everyone on the team pumped up with his exciting play. Also, in only his second year, he’s already directing everyone else on what to do. When Bynum was slow getting back off of a rotation making it so Farmar was guarding one of the Pistons bigs in the post, Farmar got in Bynums ass about it. Bynum got a little offended until Lamar basically came over and told him to shut up. On every free throw situation, Jordan comes over and talks to Phil. You can tell that Phil and the coaching staff are just in love with him.

Lamar Odom is also sensational. He’s a totally different player now that he doesn’t have to match up with guys like Tim Duncan and Rasheed Wallace everynight. I’ve written this before, but Odom is at his best when the Lakers are running and he can get out on the break and do his thing. He had 5 or 6 opportunities like that last night. They gotta find a way to have Farmar, Mo Evans, and Lamar on the floor together, because those guys love to get the rebound and push the ball. Very fun basketball to watch.

Kurt

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23 responses to View From Behind The Bench

  1. Yeah… I’d agree with all of the above. Something I would add is that I thought Phil’s player selection/substitutions was VERY suspect last night. Starting with the decision to start Brian Cook. Cook is absolute no-load. His defense is maybe the WORST in the NBA at his position. I can’t abide by him. Radmanovic is no defensive stud himself, but Cook is atrocious.

    PJ is also playing Kwame a bit too much. While he is in, the Lakers need to know to not pass him the ball on the break or in other situations where there is a lot of movement. He simply can’t catch. he makes Elden Campbell look like Randy Moss.

    PJ also needs to keep Farmar in the game a lot more. In my opinion he should start the 3rd. I’m fine with Fisher starting, but in the 2nd half Farmar should be the “starter” and take the minutes substitution pattern associated with that.

  2. Great observations. Now its just a matter of getting the players worth keeping, and that includes Kobe, on the same page, and getting rid of guys who have no future with the team.

    The Lakers are a good team, but not challengers to Dallas and San Antonio so there will be questions about Kobe and his future no matter how well the team plays. They need to make a deal to become championship contenders. Whether that deal is available who knows, but im impressed Kupchak has not made a bad deal just to appease Kobe or to get rid of him for garbage.

    Becoming a winner is a work in progress. The question is whether Kobe is patient enough to be a part of it.

    Would we trade Farmar straight up for Jermaine ONeal?

  3. As a big UCLA fan, I can’t say I’m surprised at the impact Farmar is having for the Lakers right now. To be honest, if Farmar was about 3-4 inches taller, he’d be pretty much the perfect PG for Phil’s triangle offense. He’s got an extremely high basketball IQ and works hard every play. PJ just prefers bigger guards (hence the Crittenton draft, I believe).

    The Lakers will succeed or fail this season based on the ability of guys like Farmar and Turiaf to improve their games and give Kobe the help he needs (or feels he needs) at key moments in games. Last night’s series when the Lakers went from down 74-74 to up 80-74 is a perfect example, as Farmar was the main catalyst for much of LA’s success during that stretch (3 steals, a basket, a drawn shooting foul, and a drive that opened up the lane for Mo Evans to make a follow-up slam).

    Just finding production isn’t what the Lakers need – it’s production at those “turning point” moments within games, that can help take some of the pressure off of Bryant from feeling like he always has to be the guy to make those plays. And it then allows him to work within his own offense to still contribute at those moments (witness Kobe scoring the next 6 Laker points).

  4. *down 73-74, not 74-74.

  5. Love the insight Jones.

    The Borat thing might be the dumbest reason to start someone I’ve ever heard. Phil’s gotta stop out-thinking himself. Keeping Odom at the 3 is brilliant, but I’d rather see any combo at the 4-5 than Cook-Kwame. Ronny can’t come back soon enough.

  6. I believe that Cook is being showcased for a possible trade. He could be valuable to the Lakers if he accepts his role as a player that will only see action 1 out of 4 games depending on the game situation. I do not know if the amount of money that the Laker’s pay him warrants keeping him under this scenario.
    One problem with trading player’s mid season in the triangle is that there is not enough time to meld with the team, not enough time to get the timing down within the system. Most NBA player’s require two years to learn the triangle unless they have a high basketball IQ.
    Just plain loving Lamar back at the three!
    Also, would love to see a lineup of Farmar, Kobe, Lamar, Kwame and Bynum at some point just to see what the rotations and weak side help would look like.

  7. Last night’s game showed that the team has the ability to buckle down and take back a game that was starting to slip away…

  8. Wow. I’m sorry I missed the game. It’s nice to see everyone so hyped, but sheesh, Detroit was without Billups and McDeyess for crying out loud. That’s way worse then getting too excited over the Phoenix win.

    Hopefully Lamar can have more scoring games like this. He doesn’t need to average 25+ — just be a threat to do that on any given night so defenses have to worry about him more.

    I don’t know how many games where his point totals have been in that range since he’s become a Laker, but I suspect you could count them on one hand.

    Good Christ, the Bulls are in town.

  9. The Lakers are fun to watch again! It’s not quite showtime, but you can feel the excitement from the players in a way not seen in too long. Kobe on defensive is a beast. Bynum when he decides “screw this, I’ll just dunk on everyone right now.” Turiaf all the time. Farmar in the open court. Odom shimmying to an open left handed lay-up. I’m enjoying watching Lakers games again.

    Responding to #5 above: what type of player would we be looking to trade Cook for? Not a PG. A SG, should we start planning life without Kobe? A banging PF? That’s the part of the Lakers I find most frustrating right now: it’s difficult to go from good to great, and I feel all contributors (meaning everyone but Cook, Sasha, and Karl), would be difficult to upgrade.

  10. 9. How about for a towelboy and some hot dogs?

    Seriously though, I think Cook gets a little too much crap. To me he’s a more affordable version of Radamanovic.

  11. Ok speaking of Cook and all these stuff…

    Brian Cook needs to get a life. I was gonna suggest sending him to the Spurs (well he was drafted to emulate Rob Horry you know… ) but I doubt he will see any minutes there even with Horry out. Mahinmi beats him for sheer hustle and energy.

    We need to trade Brian Cook for an inexpensive shooter. If not, ship him away for some expiring contracts or to a team with a trade exception large enough to absorb him in exchange for two 2nd rounders.

    Remember, we are paying the tax this year because of Cook’s extension…

  12. I think Cook’s life is established Warren…MItch Kupcake gave him a fairly nice extension. :D

    Seriously though, I doubt anyone takes on his contract. I was all for offering Cook and perhaps Coby Karl or Sasha and / or a 2nd to the Wolves for Buckner…but they’ve got a rich man’s Brian Cook in Antoine Walker.

    Cook is probably one of the worst players on the court I’ve seen so far. The one thing he’s good at, his shooting, has been flatter than his rookie year. Not good.

  13. To me it makes sense to start Cook if Ronnie is out. This keeps the substitution patterns the same and the 2nd unit in tact for its normal rotation. Plus Cook is the bigger player. I know that he is terrible with his weak side help and his rebounding is non existent, but against Detroit, his bigger body actually helped against Maxiel to start the game. Plus it’s not like Phil stuck with the guy for too long…Cook played sparingly in the 2nd half when his jumper stopped falling. So, even though I dislike Cook as much as the next guy, I thought Phil did the right thing by starting him. With a thin front court, you knew that Cook was going to see some time, so why not throw him out there right after warmups when he has worked up a little lather and let him space the floor and gun away. I mean that’s about all he’s good for anyway. The move to start Cook actually allowed Lamar to work down low against Prince, who he out muscled and created against on the block. Just my 2 cents.

  14. 13.

    Yep. I’m with you… If you have to play Cook, then start him right away, so that defense is forced to adjust later in the game.

    But this is in fact a problem… We don’t need Radmanovic AND Cook. And since the first shoots better and actually tries to play some defense, we should move Cook as soon as possible.

    Regarding Farmar’s lack of height… We know PJ prefers tall point guards, but the system can work with a shorter point guard, so I don’t see a problem with Farmar being our point guard for years to come.

  15. I must admit I struggle to find enthusiasm for Brian Cook–but as a starter against Detroit he came through.

    As Kurt said: “Cook is just great on the pick and roll, which has worked, and you just can’t leave the guy open like that, he can shoot the ball. He’s done well, I’m glad to be proved wrong.”

    He may get his “shot” against Nocioni–and judging by what happened agaist the Clippers, Cookie better deck the guy!

    Cookie usually looks OK if he is paired with Twinkletoes Brown and Lamar on defense, and his ability to hit the three draws defenders out–or else. He does not look good with Bigfoot Bynum, since Andrew’s poor defense exposes Cook’s weakness as a one on one defender–and Cook is not the best finisher on the break.

    The factor I continue to notice the most this year is the difference that Smush Parker makes by not being here.

    Just as a point of reference, Miami won their second game of the year (against NJ)–and Smush didn’t play!

    This year, Jordan has the Lakers clawing and scratching like UCLA–ready for a stop or a steal–followed by an up tempo response

    The Lakers held their own against the Pistons even as their shooting percentage dropped like a rock. The Lakers scored about as many total points as they usually give up (103). The Lakers won it by 12 by holding Detroit to 91. When did that last happen?

    The Smusher would have led the Lakers with an attempted 3, an attempted steal, and a foul. He also might have thrown the ball away. Kobe would have traded baskets at best. We would have lost by 20 and been in a very bad mood.

    Instead, we’re playing some serious D and having fun.

    It worked against Detroit. It will work against the Bulls the same way.

  16. Isn’t the smusher a little payback gift from LA to Miami? LOL. Pat Riley must be pulling his well-gelled hair do now. Ricky D, Smush P, and J Will? He has some team there…

  17. Kurt, its a bit off-topic but could you allow it?

    I am trying to come up with a possible trade for Kurt Thomas from Seattle. I’m interested on what he can do for our team since he is an above-average defender who can hit the 15-ftr. This of course, without trading Kwame.

    I sure would like the opinions of other members on this one…

  18. Brian “Make him put the ball on the floor” Cook has two marketable NBA skillls, being tall and being a shooter. He did score 8 points in the first quarter, but ended up 2-10 for the game.

    That being said, I do agree with Renato A’s assessment of why Phil should start him, but when Ronny returns, I look forward to some more DNP-coach’s decision.

    The Bynum-Farmar-Bryant-Odom-Radmanovic lineup ended the game and Farmar and Bynum played the entire fourth quarter. Again really nice signs for the whart this team can begin to grow into as they continue gel.

    Subbing in Ronny for Radmanovic in that lineup is more length and energy on the defensive end than we’ve seen from the Lakers since the Horry-Fox days.

  19. In regards to Farmar and Javaris, I have read from multiple resources that the Lakers front office are proponents of drafting the best option even if it’s not necessarily what you need. Javaris fell lower than his value and the Lakers took him, but I don’t think it is necessarily a reflection of their confidence in Farmar. Anyways, we needed depth at this position.

  20. Regarding Farmar and Javaris:

    I think the two of them can eventually play together in the backcourt. Javaris is big enough to guard twos. Imagine a lineup with Javaris and Jordan in the backcourt pressuring the ball on defense and pushing the ball on offense…

    Regarding Cook: I really don’t like it when people compare him to Vlad Rad, because in my eyes they are not the same player. I mean, other than the three point shot. Vlad can put the ball on the floor and get to the bucket, and is much more athletic than Cook. Vlad Rad is also a little bit more active on defense. Vlad shoots a beautiful high arching shot, while Cook has that ugly ass flat shot. I guess the reason I don’t really like Cook is that he has the ability to add other aspects to his game but doesn’t.

  21. Though I too was flabbergasted at Cook starting, and though Phil has seemed a little off his “game” this season, I still trust his use of players. Just because it doesn’t look good right away doesn’t mean it doesn’t serve a long term purpose. For example, did Walton sit out the whole first quarter? Personally, I find it a bit of a harsh punishment for not playing well. But I’m not the Zen Master and he is, so for now I’ll trust that certain questionable moves help further the team’s long term goals.

  22. Lets hope that Cook is playing to be showcased to other GM’s for a deadline trade.

  23. Cook being showcased? Please! The best showcase for him is DNP. No one will take him now! Thanks a lot, PJ!