Consistently Inconsistent

Kurt —  December 3, 2007

The loss to Orlando Sunday night was a bit of the microcosm of the Lakers season so far — streaks of tantalizingly good play followed by streaks of disinterested defense, an offense that resorted to “let’s watch Kobe” in crunch time and an egregious number of turnovers. Some days, the good is enough (or lasts long enough) to get the win. Some nights the Lakers play Orlando.

What is starting to really concern me is this Lakers team is still battling its demon from last season — inconsistency.

There’s no doubt they’ve improved — both some players (Bynum and Farmar, obviously, as well as the Fisher for Smush tradeoff) and the team defense has been better but still average (the Lakers are 15th in defensive efficiency, which is better than last year’s 29th). However, the inconsistency that was this team last year (even before the injuries) has returned with the new season. Each night it seems the Lakers find a new way to lose, as Rob L. put it to me in an email.

It seems like the coaching staff is playing whack-a-mole. Fix one problem, only to have another one pop up.

There is no one easy answer because there is no one reason. Yes the schedule out of the gate has been tough. Yes, not having Kwame Brown inside hurts the Lakers defensive toughness.

But for all the talk of a growing team, second youngest in the league, key cogs of this team are not young (Kobe/Odom/Fisher). This is not a team of kids learning on the job like in Portland (or Chicago of years past), not just a focus thing (Odom) and not just a coaching thing. It’s a blending of the three, with the coach hoping the mistakes and losses teach lessons.

But will they? And how frustrated will we all be if and when it does pay off?

Kurt

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41 responses to Consistently Inconsistent

  1. This was going to be a much longer post filled with examples and details and stats, but I’m just not feeling well and didn’t have it in me. Still, I think it’s a good topic to discuss, which you all had already started to touch on. I’ll get a preview of some form up at some point tomorrow.

  2. The coaching staff is taking it very slowly with Farmar and Bynum, and to a lesser extent with Turiaf. That is probably smart in the long run.

    That does put more emphasis on the play of the veterans on the team. Unfortunately, for the most part they haven’t come through. Lamar, Walton, and Vlad have been very inconsistent, Mihm is still struggling to regain his touch, and Kwame is still Kwame. (Horrible offense, poor rebounder, and mediocre at best at help defense.) Fisher has been solid offensively, but has been a big part of the porous perimeter defense. Kobe is still trying to figure out the best way to fit his game in with the rest of the team, and since the rest of the team has been so inconsistent, he hasn’t been able to do that.

  3. I am a Lamar Odem fan, but I am really beginning to wonder if he will ever fit in to the Lakers ultimate game plan. The young players on the team need to understand his role and trust in his leadership (particularly when Kobe is off the floor), but it’s hard to do that when you have no idea which Lamar Odem is going to show up. Will he be the talented all-around player who slahses to the basket, dishes to his teammates and inhales boards? Or will he go 1-6 and stand around watching?

    If the Lakers knew they had a consistent second option, I think things would really click. The trouble is, when Lamar is playing poorly, it is up to another veteran to step up and fill his role. Sometimes they get the play elsewhere and sometimes they don’t, but it must drive Phil and his staff insane from night to night, wondering whether they will need to have a hot shooting night from Vlad and Fish just to have any chance of winning because their #2 option is suddenly non-existent.

    I would love to see things work out for Lamar in L.A. He is definitely an all-star human being. But we need an all-star player, and you have to wonder how long the F.O. is willing to wait for that to finally happen.

  4. Few questions that I have:

    1) Why isn’t Ariza playing?

    2) How much of the inconsistency is from poor chemistry? How much did the trade of Evens/Cookie affect chemistry? (I ask this one because I thought we had nice chemistry at the beginning of the season, but it’s been horrible the last two weeks or so).

    3) If Lamar isn’t working out, did the FO make the move for Ariza so we would have a back-up 3 to Walton when we moved Lamar?

  5. All I ever need to know about Lamar Odom:

    Smiles after seeing his crucial shot bounce off the rim in crunch time.

    Not a winner’s attitude. I usually hate to shrink a whole argument into the microcosm of one example, but that really upset me. I could never picture Kobe, Farmar, Fish, or Bynum doing that.

  6. In an ideal world, Kobe will be like Kidd, able to boost other players’ confidence while bringing his A game. However, Kobe is a very different animal, closer to bringing ‘fear’ and ‘grudging respenct’ than he is to ‘inspire.’

    For a fan, it’s always more fun to watch a beast uncaged, running raw with explosive talents and unstoppable surges, but as a team, you need a tamed animal. We need Kobe to be a shepherd’s dog, somebody that can reassure the herd, not a wolf who may be way stronger but also threatening to the extent that the herd won’t move.

    I think all it really takes is for Kobe to give himself and the team a full year. A full year where he puts his competitive spririt aside, taking time to develop his teammates, building their confidence, making them believe that they have earned Kobe’s trust. He is capable of doing that, as seen in many reports over the summer. He works out with Redd, is in good terms with Kidd, and inspires people who are strong enough – notice how just about EVERYONE in the team USA improved? That didn’t happen the year before when Melo/Wade/James were co-captains.

    kinda deviated from the topic, but if Kobe can make his teammates feel ‘trusted,’ they will always move around to get better positions, not just stand and watch.

  7. The reason the Lakers are still inconsistent is that the front office has basically brought back the same inconsistent players for the third season in a row.

    Odom has always been here today, gone tomorrow. Luke Walton plays great with the starters and poorly with the second unit. Vlad will be hot one night and cold the next.

    The only way this team will get any consistency is for the front office to change the roster and bring in more consistent players like Derek Fisher.

    Unfortunately for us Lakers fans, they haven’t seen fit to do that for the past 3 seasons and it doesn’t look like they’re interested in doing it now.

  8. Mike in the Mountain West December 3, 2007 at 7:00 pm

    Don’t forget turnovers. They’re still plagueing us. The game with Orlando is a perfect example.

    In the final 7:27, when we were tied 87-87, and execution was key, the team committed 5 turnovers. The Magic capitalized on those turnovers for 6 points. That cuts the final margin to 1 point.

    For the game they had 25 points off of our 22 turnovers.

    I believe we are 29th in the league for turnovers, averaging over 16 a game.

    I’m not sure how to fix that though because the two biggest culprits so far are Kobe and Lamar The most obvious place to start however is with Lamar because although he’s only averaging slightly more turnovers than he has historically he is way below his usual assist average. His A/TO ratio is a dismal .5! Yuck.

    Odom is way out of wack. More out of wack than I can ever remember seeing him.

  9. sorry Kurt, didn’t know my chest cold could give you the flu from boston.

  10. There are several problems here.

    1- Kwame’s absence hurt Lakers. They need that missing piece, the Toughness as PJ mentioned on the paper.

    2- The Evans/Cooking trade make it double. I just don’t understand with the Front Office sometimes. Seems to be the ONLY reason for that trade to happen was money consideration?? Only thinking what would benefit them after this season. And what about this season?? Add another big guy perhaps??

    3- LO experiment in 3 does not seem to work. Looks like LO is more comfortable playing at 4 (as he did since 2005 season). That brings Luke to play in 3 as starter.

  11. Can someone tell me why LO shoots 3s? I am so dead serious about that question. To my recollection he has never been especially good at them (last yr – .297) and he just keeps jacking them up there. It’s not like we don’t have guys that can consistently hit that shot, so why does Phil give him the go ahead? It seems like a consistent j would stretch the d as well, so i gotta ask, can someone please give me a good reason that he keeps shooting that awkward 3 pter.

    5 – Couldn’t agree more. I saw LO smiling and my first thought was, “if kobe sees that he’s gonna go atomic.”

    Unrelated – Did anyone notice how HARD kobe was forcing Bynum and LO to get involved? Neither of them capitalized an a whole cache of easy makes, but i get fed up with hearing all this junk about Kobe’s lack of team ball, only to have it ignored just because his support can’t finish. If you have Tivo, go back and watch how many time kobe, being kobe, could have taken a shot but instead rifles the ball right into the waiting hands of AB or LO only to have them fumble, miss, get blocked, or turn over the ball. I lost count but i think there had to be at least 5 a piece.

  12. I think our defense took a big dip the minute Turiaf went out. I think Kwame Brown is overvalued by Laker fans, but he too will help with the defense.b

  13. Nice post, Harold. I don’t think I agree with you completely– I’m not the biggest Kobe fan, but his will is special, and a great weapon to have on those nights when nothing is working in the offense.

    I also think he contributes to those nights where the offense stagnates. I don’t despise Vujacic, Radmanovic, Cook, etc. like some… I just don’t feel they get enough rhythmic, good looks from game to game to blame them that much for not being consistent shooters. Even Lamar.

    The offense looks to me like it rarely flows enough, for the most part game to game it looks disjointed to me.

  14. kwame a,
    11) “I think our defense took a big dip the minute Turiaf went out”

    I have thought the same thing. Replacing him with Vlad significantly threw off the defense of the starters.

  15. 2nd option is a luxury we don’t have and probably won’t have, so why bother asking for one.

    What we do have is a decent, motivated bench. Our focus should be on their development and their hustle on defense. Once we get a consistent, energetic, hustling defense going, we won’t have to worry about inconsistencies and 2nd options.

  16. Contrary to popular belief, I actully salute Mitch for having done the Ariza trade.

    Brian Cook’s contract was for 10.5M spread evenly in 3 years. The 3rd year is a team option and with how deep he is in the roster, its safe to assume he will exercise it.

    Mo Evans contract is up. If he plays well enough, he will ask for a significant raise, if he sucks, well, you’ll have a sucky player for cheap. Where’s the benefit there?

    With Ariza coming in, the Lakers bring in a 3rd stringer who is not expected to play, has no expectations and has a player option next year. If he wants to try his luck in LA, he can exercise it. If he thinks he is better off elsewhere, we can clear 3M off the payroll with no feelings hurt. As a player though, it hurts to think that you were brought in for “strategy” and not for playing.

    In the long run, Ariza costs 6M less in terms of guaranteed salary, apparent luxury tax payment and expectations. It also brings us down to 900k above the threshold (which I foresee Mitch being satisfied with that number until a very good deal comes along).

    To be more specific, in case guys here are interested on the mechanics of the Ariza trade, here is my attempt to explain it:

    Orlando acquired a disabled player exception from the disability of Tony Battie worth 50% of his salary this year (50% of 5.2M = 2.6M).

    Orlando then trades Trevor Ariza for Brian Cook. Since Brian Cook is a BYC player, meaning his outgoing salary is counted only at 1.8M, the Lakers need to shed off more salary to make the trade work. Orlando then used part of their DPE or TPE or simply the Exception on Mo Evans so that the incoming salary of almost 2M in excess of Ariza’s salary becomes justified.

    In short, this is how the trade looked:
    Ariza = Cook
    DPE = Evans

    For me, it was a strategic business move and I like it.

  17. Does anyone know if Turiaf is still hurt? Turiaf is a good player to start with Kobe. He keeps the energy level up, which is something that can’t be ignored. Conversley, Vlad is a better fit coming off the bench playing with Farmar, and the uptempo nature of the second unit. If the only position Lamar can play for us is the 4, then that puts us back with him and Luke starting, and we all know defensivley what that looks like.

  18. 17. According to the paper today (or maybe it was yesterday), Turiaf is not yet 100% with his prior injury. I don’t know yet about the mild concussion from Howard’s elbow Sunday.

  19. Sticking with the topic, the Lakers problem is that we are too deep. HUH?! Yes, thats exactly what I mean.

    Being deep is a good thing. As a matter of fact, the Spurs are a deep team. Houston is a deep team, Dallas is a deep team. The only teams that are winning that are not considered deep are Phoenix and Boston, yet they have a very exceptional TRIO that are best in league.

    The Lakers are filled with 10 ok players, 1 very good player, 1 unreliably good player and 2 D-leaguers.

    Kobe is the best player of the team, no doubt.
    Lamar is the unreliably good player.
    Farmar, Ronny and Drew I consider as very promising. For purposes of classification, they belong to the ok.
    Luke, Fish, Chris and Vlade are the vets but they are ok.
    Sasha, Ariza and Mihm are mediocre at best, and Crittenton and Coby Karl are too young to be considered real options.

    The problem with our team is we are almost 3-deep in every position and we only ride whoever is hot. With no defined roles and minutes, one player can afford to say “I’ll take the night off since Kobe and Drew are hot”. If there are no defined scorers, as muddywood refers to as the legit 2nd option, there is no one on the team who will take the responsibility in case Kobe goes cold.

    With “player X” as the second option and with our bench a little weaker, Kobe can rely on “X” to be the man at times. When the moments matter most, Kobe can take over the game. But at least the load is not carried by Kobe all throughout the season.

    My take would be to trade Lamar for a legit 2nd option guy who has the advantages on defense. Package him along with Kwame’s expiring and hopefully pick up Kwame if he is waived. (Hint: Indiana)

    If it needs be, we can always trade Lamar for a “lesser” player in return but with draft picks coming back as well as a more refined scoring prowess. (Hint: Golden State)

    Then there’s the upgrade. Trade him off for a disgruntled star who is consistently the #1 option but the #3 loved on the team. Make him Kobe’s Robin and he will give you 20-10 night in and out as well as filling the 6 categories of statistics. Most of all, his enthusiasm on defense and hard work will rub off on the youngsters thereby making us a very young yet consistent team. After all, its consistency we are looking for. (Hint: Phoenix)

  20. L.O… needs to go!! He just ain’t making it. We all feel bad about his child. We all know that he is a good guy whose heart is in the right place. But… and this is a big “BUT” if you’re a pro-athlete… he has NO HEART. No Desire. No Sense of Excellence. His pro-ball life equates to a enigma wrapped in a conundrum. He “could” have been Magic Johnson Jr. – - – instead he’s a quality “role player” on a team that needs a Legitimate Veteran Defensive and Scoring Second option…

    Plus? Nobody… I mean not one laker player has gotten more patience then LO. He’s always hurt, sick or even worse tantalizing us with 2-3 amzazing displays of talent and then? Right back into the rabbit hole! He ain’t a winner… maybe for LO that will never be a “learned” habit… no matter how much confidence the organization, kobe or phil have in him. Let’s oust him… and to think we could have held onto Caron and maybe had gotten something sweeter out of the Wizards when LO was actually worth someting…

    I pray he will be on the block soon… what we can actually get for him w/o packaging any of our other talent? I have no idea… but we need a guy whose HEART is not just in his personal life and his work in the community… But, also? On the COURT.

  21. afirmandi@yahoo.com December 3, 2007 at 10:16 pm

    # 16, I couldn’t agree you more in terms of money saving for next season. How about the performance of this year? Should we jeopardize the team performance over money issue?

  22. At least Lamar is always a beast in the playoffs.

  23. Haven’t posted in a while, but reading the responses to this post, I got a little angry at some peoples logic. The topic is very simple:

    1) We are talking about PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES that make millions of dollars per year. If I’m not mistaken I believe a basketball players only job in life is to… PLAY BASKETBALL :-) quite simple, wouldn’t u say?? You ever notice how when you watch bowling on tv, they consistently hit pins and score high night in and night out?? I hate bowling, but it was an easy analogy, these guys on the court playing around Kobe should be able to make a wide open shot EVERY TIME. Is that not simple logic?? Was Shaq not suppose to make every free throw at $30 Million a season… all he has to do is shoot, thats his job. I’m in real estate, and I always show up to assignments and I always fill out contracts correctly, why don’t basketball players show up to play basketball?? (they make a lot more than i do to do a job less often)

    2) Trevor Ariza was Mitch Kupchaks first good move in who knows how long. They have an open spot on the roster, they have cut salary over the next two years, they have eliminated a duplicate player in Brian Cook, they eliminated a seldomly used player in Maurice Evans, and added a versatile forward with plenty of ability and talent who WILL perform in the near future. Don’t forget, no one comes into Phil Jackson’s offense and contributes immediately, they can’t just run wild, they have to know where they are at all times… give Ariza a few more weeks and then expect 5 and 5 from him nightly, which we can truly use at this point.

    Thanks for hearing me out ;-)

  24. 22 – Why can’t Lamar play like that all year long? Just give him the ball in the post. Why is he even thinking of hanging around the 3 point line? Doesn’t the coaching staff understand that he is horrific from outside the arc?

    I am beginning to think the Lakers will need to trade LO and Kwame in Feb for JO and somebody else the Lakers will probably want to waive.

  25. Affirmandi – Mo Evans was the 9th player off the bench and Cook was the distant 12th, replacing both of them with Ariza (who is now 11th) would not ruin that chemistry we’re all talking about. Or atleast the benefit outweighs the drawback caused by it.

    Make no mistake, I’d much rather have Evans playing for us right now, but I guess he was the price for us pay to stop ranting about how bad Cook’s game is. I like where we are right now in terms of team and in terms of payroll and in terms of being able to be in the position to trade again.

  26. Inconsistency is expected in a team where nothing is constant.

    FO has no vision, so is often inconsistent in its moves.
    Coach wasn’t sure how long he was staying around, so there’s no reassuring vibes.
    Kobe caused all the brewhaha over the summer, so your ‘main’ player is no longer a ‘given.’
    You’ve got players coming back from injuries, still timid, in Mihm, Odom and Turiaf so no consistency there.
    You’ve got injured players who were with the team during the preseason, so no consistency there (Kwame, Turiaf)
    You’ve got youngsters still getting their feet wet, so no consistency there.
    And now you’ve got a new player via trade, so no consistency there.

    Wow, i’m actually amazed that the team can actually put some serious stretches within a game considering how uncertain the situation is.

    Compare that with PHX or SA, DAL, or even Utah, you know that we’ve got problems that run deeper than just player A or B being inconsistent.

  27. In my opinion, acquiring JO will not improve our consistency in any way. That guy is far too injury prone and far to inconsistent to bring to the Lakers. I wouldn’t even trade Bynum for JO or Lamar for JO. JO is washed up so people need to forget about him. He isn’t a winner and he body is failing him. I’d trade Kwame for JO straight up but that is about all I’d give up.

    22. Lamar has put up good numbers in the playoffs the last couple years, but he hasn’t done what it takes to WIN, and that is all that matters. Phoenix is an easy team to put up numbers against, but a hard team to beat. Also, Lamar’s poor free throw shooting in the playoffs has hurt us the past two years. Why can’t this guy make big free throws–it is always miss the first make the second every damn time!

    Regarding the main topic of this thread, like Kobe always says: offense comes and goes but the truly great (and consistent) teams play fantastic team defense (Spurs, Utah, Spurs, Utah). We have guys like Vlad Rad, Sasha, Walton, Mihm, and Fisher playing big minutes (Mihm not really thank God) and the fact is those guys don’t play defense well. It is very hard to play team defense when you have so many weak links getting so many minutes.

    Improve the defense and you improve the consistency.

  28. the other Stephen December 4, 2007 at 9:14 am

    the solution is to replace the entire lineup with robots. like, every dude should be programmed to get a triple-double every night. happy consistency!

  29. 27. I agree maybe we should build a robot that can make a shot everytime without missing. You couldn’t lose if you hit 100% of your shots. Right. On top of that you wouldn’t have to pay them just the engineers and maintenance crews for maintaining them. Is their a rule against that.

  30. I don’t agree that the Lakers have been inconsistent. The Laker’s team defense has been consistently bad–though not horrible. The “average” of all NBA teams that we possess and our won-loss record pretty much go together.

    We’ve been more consistent in giving up points than in any other aspect of the game.

    That’s not to say that the Lakers haven’t had their moments. Kobe has made some inspirational blocks; Farmar made some inspirational steals, and Ronny most recently took an inspirational elbow that knocked him to the floor.

    Due to trades, it’s harder to name names. The Smusher is currently no liability for the Laker defense–or even the Miama defense: he’s been suspended! Cookie is playing about the same role for Orlando as he did for the Lakers.

    Theough the problem is obvious and consistent, some of us seem to take an ostrich approach. For example, Andrew is credited for good defense because his +- is better than Kwame–even though he got much of his early season +- coming off the bench and scoring points–not shutting the other team down.

    I’ll be more impressed when the Lakers hold the other team to 4 points in a quarter–rather than the rather consistent 70 in a half that is happening night after night.

    The trade for Trevor Ariza is the clearest recognition by the Laker organization that they recognize our game after game “consistency” for the perpetual catastrophe that it is.

    Let’s be clear. I’d welcome some inconsistency on D. Here’s how I’d be wowed:

    I’d be wowed when Andrew came way out on defense and totally derailed a high pick and roll–then rotated and fronted his man–intercepting the pass that would have gone for a dunk–giving a great outlet pass that leads to a 3 on one.

    I’d be wowed when when Lamar flies from his inside position to his man behind the three point line, leaps and blocks the shot, grabs the ball out of mid air, and leads the break the other way!

    I’d be wowed every time the other team doesn’t get a shot off within 26 seconds.

    I’d be wowed every time that Andrew blocks out the opposing center on a shot so that a teammate gets the rebound.

    I’d be wowed every time that a Laker defender takes a charge or makes a block rather than makes a foul on an opponent’s driving layup attempt.

    I’d be more wowed when an opposing player can’t find enough room to shoot than when his percentage drops 10%.

    The confidence that we can make the stops more often than not would make us treasure our possessions and reduce the frequency of bonehead turnovers.

    Our successful rotations and switches on defense would transfer to more “flow” on offense and fewer desperation three pointers at the end of the shot clock.

    Our failures to score on our possessions would not be as much a cause for anxiety if we were sure that opponents were unlikely to score on their possessions.

    I guess we shouldn’t make those “wow” plays. We’re a young team and it might make us too inconsistent!

  31. The team of robots idea is interesting, but what I learned from the Twilight Zone is they cannot have hearts. Once you give them a heart they’ll feel bad beating the other team and start to lose.

  32. Because I’ve referenced the (+ -) stat in support of Andrew (on several occassios, lol), I’ll respond to your comment (30.) drrayeye. The reason for offering up Drew’s (+ -) stat versus Kwame’s (+ -) stat is not to demonstrate that Drew plays better defense than Kwame or even to “credit” Drew “for good defense.”

    Rather, it simply means our team fares better when Drew is in the game. That may be becasue of Drew’s offensive production, rebounding, defense, or some combination thereof. Or it may have more to do with Kwame’s offensive liabilities and poor rebounding.

    The season (+ -) stats so far clearly indicate that Bynum has more of a positive impact than Kwame. That said, Bynum/Mihm and Mihm/Bynum is clearly inferior to Bynum/Kwame and Kwame/Bynum, which explains our recent bad record to a certain extent.

    Another cause for inconsistency may be Kobe himself. Kobe has scored in bursts and has had several very bad shooting nights, including at least 6 terrible second halfs that were covered up by stellar first half production. Even though Kobe’s stats are good this year, I wouldn’t describe his play as consistent.

  33. 31. Heh, maybe that’s the Lakers’ problem. Hurts too much to win.

    Phil Jackson’s approach doesn’t seem to be the best way to work a young team. It’s the same story every year, nothing ever changes. Don’t you think if Jerry Sloan was in charge this wouldn’t be as much of an issue?

    Here’s his comment from yesterdayg:

    “I’m not optimistic right now,” Jackson said. “I didn’t like the practice today. I didn’t think we practiced well today. We only had 10 guys and we were coming off a bad game. We tried to get some things accomplished, to grow as a basketball club, but I chided them about their energy this morning.”

    Chided. Ok, fine. But are there ever any consequences?

    Then he gives me a headache, saying oh we need that Kwame “toughness” to right the ship. Good Lord.

  34. Lamar’s overall play makes me realize how great Scottie Pippen was. We all have wanted Lamar to be the Scottie to Kobe’s MJ, but Odom (who I love as a player) just has not shown that ability to always be an impact player (whether it be scoring, rebounding, defense, or setting up teammates). Scottie was always an impact.

    Lamar is a beast in the playoffs…but that can be explained with 2 reasons. 1st: We have played the Suns in the playoffs every year. Lamar matches up superbly against Marion. LO is bigger, longer, is a smooth athlete, and a very good player around the basket. This gives Marion problems as he can’t handle Lamar on the inside, and LO has the athletic ability and skill to play an all court game, so Marion does not hold any advantage in the matchup. 2nd: The playoffs are a time when the game planning becomes specific to one opponent. Lamar now has a singular focus on how he is going to attack that particular team. That singular plan and his focus on 1 or 2 matchups allows him to dial in to the opponent and bring his best game every night. This decreases his inconsistency and allows him to just go out and play with the same plan as the night before. In the regular season LO just has not figured out how to attack every team in the same way (unlike Kobe) and maximize his effectiveness against any team. I don’t know if this is coaching or just something that is *wrong* with LO, but it leads to his inconsistency. We all know that Lamar wants to win, that he is extremely talented, and that he cares about basketball (look at all he’s been through and he still competes hard).

    I’m not going to start with the trade rumors or anything like that, but it seems that after 3 full seasons and now into a 4th that Lamar is not the answer as the second scoring option that this team needs. So if the Lakers could get a slightly less versataile player who is more consistent in what he brings to the table it would bring dividends to this team. If that player is a natural 4 man, all the better as Luke can be a starter and we will have more balance with an inside/outside game. If we can get a very good 3 man, that works too as the front court depth is solid and that player can just replace LO in the lineup. My dream guys are still Gasol or Artest. But I don’t know how we could even get those players and don’t want to speculate.

  35. 33) “Phil Jackson’s approach doesn’t seem to be the best way to work a young team. ”

    Seems to me it has worked pretty well with Farmar, Bynum, and possibly with Turiaf. They look like they are off to a good start towards maximizing their potential. Do you think another coach would be getting more out of Walton?

  36. 34. I agree completely with Lamar not being anywhere close to Scottie in terms of…well…..in terms of everything. Scottie Pippen was one of the game’s great all around talents, the likes of which we haven’t seen since he retired. Scottie Pippen was an All-Star and one of the best defensive players in the league (8 time first team all defense–he guarded the oppossing team’s best outside scoring threat every night and literally shut people down). Scottie Pippen was 3 times on the first team all nba. Scottie Pippen worked hard on his game every offseason to become a better player. Scottie Pippen was one of the smartest players in the league. Scottie Pippen had a mental toughness that surpassed most players. Scottie Pippen was named one of the games 50 greatest players. If anyone thinks they can justifiably compare Scottie Pippen and Lamar Odom I suggest they do some research–to put it bluntly, there is no comparison. Watching old Scottie Pippen highlights is a treat as he was one of the game’s true great professionals. Odom hasn’t done a single thing anyone is going to care about in 10 years and he is one of the game’s true great underacheivers.

  37. Wow, Bobby. I agree 100% about Pippen. Still one of the underappreciated great players of any era. Many forget he could have been MVP of the league in the 1 full year that MJ did not play.

    But you just killed LO. I just hope that he finds some peace in his life and his game soon. If not with the Lakers than with another team. He is just too good a guy and player for me to really hate on the guy.

  38. Injures and Injures
    ============

    Ronny Turiaf did not practice today and will not travel with the team today when they fly to Minnesota. Turiaf left last night’s game in the fourth quarter after taking an elbow from Magic Center Dwight Howard.

    “We’ll see what the evaluation is tomorrow and he’ll join us in Denver if he’s okay,” said Phil Jackson.

    Chris Mihm sat out practice due to inflammation in his foot.

    Jackson added, “We’re just kind of holding back with both those guys. We only had ten guys out there today and it was a pretty short group.”

    Kwame Brown remains injured after sustaining a moderate sprain of his left knee and ankle against Chicago on November 18th and is expected to remain in LA as the team hits the road.

  39. HI Bobby (32),

    In the 5 last games in which Kwame played before his injury, the opponents scored 90. In the next three games, the opponents scored 110.

    In all of last year, Kwame had a better +- than Andrew by far.

    Andrew’s +- in direct comparison to Kwame this year was when Kwame did the work with the starting center, and Andrew came in with the second unit and they scored like mad. It doesn’t speak to his defense at all.

    Against the Celtics, his “man” had a career night (more than 20 points), and Phil was heard to ask Bynum if he could stop the guy “just once.” At Utah, the team had a layup drill, with Millsap going wild. Against Orlando, Bynum did not defensively handle Howard.

    Bynum does not know how to physically control the opposing center if he is big and strong (like Kwame does)–it is obvious.

    However, I’m not sure that we should blame Andrew that much. Considering his age and experience, Andrew is incredible. His presence on offense can be awesome, and his overall defense has improved. He desperately needs complementary players, and neither VladRad nor Odom play that role–and Ronny is not 100%.

    The thing that brings Andrew down the most is being paired with Lamar on defense–just as it used to be with Cook.

  40. 39. You make good points. My thoughts:

    First, Andrew has improved immeasurably from last year so I wouldn’t use that as a reference (Kwame is the same).

    Second, the opponents scoring 110 may have more to do with Chris Mihm than Bynum. When Kwame sits down he has a very productive Bynum coming in. Right now, when Bynum sits down is has an injured Mihm and an injured Turiaf. Kwame going down and Turiaf getting hurt has limited two our our main post players. Now we have to rely on Mihm. It doesn’t surprise me that teams are scoring more, and they may not have much to do with Bynum.

    Third, I agree Bynum’s (+ -) stat may not have much to do with his defense, but only if you exclude defensive rebounds (Bynum’s rebounds help our defense b/c they prevent second chance points). But Bynum’s defense isn’t the point, it is his overall production.

    The (+ -) stat paints a full picture because it combines offense AND defense. The best defensive team with the worst offense isn’t going to win near as much as the best offensive team with pretty decent defense.

    Similarly, Kwame (best post defense but terrible offense) may not be as productive as Bynum (best post offense with decent defense), and thus the lower (+ -) stat.

    Bynum’s overall contribution this year puts him among the best centers (even best players) in the league. That kind of production is going to impact the team’s (+ -) significantly. Keep in mind, as of recently Bynum’s (+ -) stats was +99 and Kwame’s was -9. That is a huge difference. And Bynum has been just as productive against the first units since Kwame went down.

    Either way, I agree we need Kwame back. I just think Bynum needs to get 30 minutes a game and Kwame needs 18 for us to be most effective.

  41. Has anybody considered the line-up possibility of PG-Farmar SG-Sasha or Critt SF-Kobe PF-Lamar C-Bynum? Its a smaller lineup but Lamar is 6’10 so he can match up with just about any forward in the league. He seems to be having trouble at the SF spot i think he’s better suited in the post. That leaves us with a bench consisting of Luke-Ariza-Radman-Turiaf-Critt or Sasha-Kwame/Mihm and Fish