Talking Pau

Kurt —  February 27, 2008

There’s a discussion going on in the comments from last night’s game that I think deserves a little more space. That is, a breakdown of how Pau Gasol is fitting in with the Lakers 11 games in.

I think we’re all various degrees of ecstatic with Gasol — the Lakers are 10-1 with him in the lineup, and he’s averaging 21.1 points and 6.9 rebounds. But that doesn’t break down his game, so Reed started the conversation:

Now that I’ve seen Pau for a full 10 games, I thought I’d weigh in on my general impressions. I’m sure a lot of this has been said better elsewhere.

1. The best possible triangle big man. I honestly cannot think of another big whose skills better translate to the triangle, even if I can think of a few players I’d rather have for broader reasons (Garnett, Duncan, etc.). For the triangle to work at peak efficiency, the big must be able to do a number of different things at a high level — score on the block, make the midrange shot, score in isolation, pick and roll and pick and pop, attack from either block and with either hand, run the high pick and roll or baseline pick and roll, pass to cutters when isolating, pass after rolling, pass to the corner shooters, catch difficult passes, etc., etc. There are bigs who can do most of these things well, and a few who do some things better than Pau, but I’m not sure anyone does all of them collectively as well as he does. When put in the fluid triangle system with players who know the offense and are highly skilled, Pau becomes ridiculously efficient.

2. Since joining LA, his true shooting percentage is 67.4%. (eFG 63.2%) That would place him at number one on the season (slightly ahead of James Jones, Bynum, Amare, Nash, etc.). Is this sustainable? I think we’re bound to see some regression to the mean, but not as much as you might expect. With the triangle’s spacing, the team’s passing, and the attention Kobe demands, Pau is much more free to attack and find high % shots than ever before. Last year, his efg% was 54.1% (9% lower than with LA now), but 55% of his attempts were jump shots and 49% of his baskets were assisted. With LA, only 40% of his attempts are from the perimeter and a whopping 69% are assisted. This makes sense. He was the focal point of every defense in Memphis and surrounded by poor shooters (besides Miller) and undisciplined point guards. Now, he has Kobe commanding all the attention and shooters spacing the floor — so he is going to get a higher % of easy and assisted looks. Obviously, interior and assisted shots are much more likely to be high %, so it is reasonable to believe that he can sustain a blistering shooting rate, even if a step beyond his career norms.

3. An awful rebounder. He’s probably the worst rebounder of the elite big men. It’s been apparent the last 10 games that he simply does not get difficult rebounds in traffic. Ever. In fact, he never really gets any rebound that doesn’t fall to him uncontested. The numbers back this up. His rebound rate is 11.7 (the % of missed shots he rebounds when on the court) — good for 96th in the league and worse than heavyweights like Memo Okur, Juan Dixon, Yi, Darko, Kwame, etc. (and .1 better than Lebron). Elite rebounders are near a rate of 20 (Howard, Camby, Chandler, Kaman, Duncan, and Bynum are all above 19.0). Pau is not only worse, he’s a lot worse — rebounding at about 50% of their rate. I’m not sure if the problem is lack of strength, leaping ability, or some combination, but he’s clearly not a reliable presence on the boards. Thankfully, this weakness is almost totally masked by the presence of Bynum and Odom, who are both elite rebounders by any measure. They will get the tough, contested boards, allowing Pau to focus on scoring. Hopefully Odom finds a way to crash down and help out when he moves to the 3.

4. Defense. About as expected — just okay. He’s too thin to keep strong attacking bigs away from the basket, but is pretty crafty at denying position and drawing charges. He has length to affect some shots, but doesn’t have the leaping ability to be a real shotblocking presence (like Andrew) — Pau’s blocks are usually against a blind penetrator who didn’t see him coming and increase trajectory. I think he’ll be a solid, maybe even fantastic, secondary interior defender, but would be a real problem as our first line of defense against Duncan/Amare/Boozer if Bynum doesn’t come back.

Thankfully, his strengths (interior scoring in the triangle) are not redundant and his weaknesses are probably totally masked by Bynum/Odom — making him the perfect fit for our team. There are other bigs producing at similar rates (Amare, Boozer, etc.) but I don’t think any would fit so seamlessly into our system given our personnel.

One commenter, Drrayeye, has been on the “Lakers need Pau” wagon longer than any of us. He has put in his two cents that we have not yet seen everything Gasol can do.

He can be a chamelion–sometimes a rebounder, sometimes a passer, sometimes a shot blocker, sometimes someone who “shuts down” an opponents–and sometimes an important part of a fast strike offense.

One thing that he can’t be is everything all at once.

All he does for the Lakers is win.

I have been following Pau for over a year very carefully, and I learned a great deal about his exploits in Spain and Memphis. In Spain, he was sort of a Kobe Bryant figure–bigger than life–the guy who takes the winning shot–or makes the key block or steal. In Memphis, he was the Saviour who was mere mortal–and never forgiven for it by the fans. Although the “Shades of Blue” guys in Memphis all loved and admired Pau, many fans ultimately soured on him: for “reasons” like those you’ve expressed.

Pau Gasol is a fine rebounder, but he is currently valued for many other things as well. He, Kobe, and Lamar have somehow split up a whole host of responsibilities rather effectively in a teamsmanship framework. It’s made the whole team better. On offense, Pau is Kobe’s “get out of jail free” card, forcing the opposition to weaken their double teams, making extremely high percentage shots and great passes. On defense, he has been a jack of all trades–but not always totally aware of his team role. That will evolve.

Count me in with those not convinced Pau is a great rebounder and is a solid if unspectacular defender. But once paired with Bynum, it is a perfect blend.

Kurt

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108 responses to Talking Pau

  1. You are right, Strenths that we needed and defects that we have already covered. perfect fit.

    I talked lately to Adam Filipi, Director of International Scouting for the Lakers, and told me he is really disapointed for losing the rights to Marc Gasol and for extension Rudy Fernandez (the lakers drafted Crittenton instead of Rudy as Crittenton felt to the lakers position).

    As he told me, many teams asked for Gasol, but not the one we have, the one we HAD. The trade has been presented as Kwame, Crittenton and late first rounds, but the key to the trade has been the expiring contract of Kwame and the younger Gasol. (but don’t missunderstand me, I f**king love having pau with the lakers)

    About Rudy… as Mr. Filipi said, he’s gonna be a star. In recent game in ACB league scored 23 points in first half (just for the record, rudy is the top scorer at 20ppg and 2nd scores 16.7ppg) to kill the game. He is at ACB just as dominant as Kobe is in NBA (Pau never was so dominant, was great but not that much).

    I know some of you might think I’m just sweeping home, long time readers know im not that kind of sports fan…

  2. I’m calling another 3peat!!

    Even though the Lakers were flat last night and obviously not on their game, never at one point did i feel they would lose that game. I think that is the mark of a championship team…..winning games when you dont play your best ball.

    Pau has been a perfect fit. I have to give credit to Mitch. The Lakers are stacked. Pau was just that missing piece….the glue so to speak, that is bringing the talent on this team together. Regardless of his #’s, just his presence alone is giving everyone else more confidence….including Kobe.

    If the Lakers can clean up the glass just a little better, and tighten up the D a tad bit (Arize & Bynum will help with that), i see NO reason why this team should not win the title this year and beyond.

    Good comments by both reed & drrayeye

    LAKER GLORY!!!

  3. I admit I’m still trying to figure out exactly what Gasol is, but I think we’ve seen enough to get a general sense of strengths and weaknesses. Overall, I think he’s a top 25, perennial all-star level player — even in the West. Someone comparable in production to Boozer or a focused Sheed. I do not, however, think he’s a flawless mvp level big man, like Duncan or KG. He’s a dominant scorer, a good team defender, and a perfect fit on our team, but there are still some holes to be aware of.

    In addition to Gasol’s spotty rebounding, I’m also getting worried about the pick and roll defense of our big men. I think Bynum and Gasol will be wonderful at deterring shots inside, helping each other contain post up scorers, etc. But they both seem pretty weak at defending a crisp pick and roll. There have been minutes lately (including last night) where I thought Pau’s pick and roll defense was about as bad as it gets. He gives a weak show against the guard, but really does nothing to deter him from turning the corner, splitting, etc. Bynum is usually about the same. Both rotate back a little slowly. They both seem a little too focused on not fouling and don’t do much to slow down the play. It will be helpful that they will often have each other at the basket as a second line of defense, but I worry about what Nash/Amare, Deron/Boozer, Parker/Duncan could do to us with a steady dose of high pick and rolls. It’s not as bad as seeing Shaq and Amare flub around, but it’s still something to worry about. Anyone been watching this and have better thoughts?

  4. Reed- After reading your original comments (and your stats regarding rebound rate) and watching last nights game, I think it’s pretty obvious that rebounding is a weakness in Pau’s game. After Lamar went to the bench with his third foul fairly early in the 2nd, Portland seemed to be getting EVERY rebound, including a play where they got three offensive rebounds on one posession (!) and finally scored. Simply put, no one on the team in the game at the time (including Pau) could successfully box out anyone. If it wasn’t for Portland shooting pretty poorly starting in the 2nd quarter, we would’ve been in trouble.

    That being said, I absolutely LOVE Pau, and I consider myself greatful to be able to watch every one of his games on TV. He is a consummate team player and a perfect compliment to this particular team.

  5. I always like your international updates Xavier. Thanks.

    i think Pau/Andrew/LO will be great on defense. My question is the spacing on offense. Last nite with Pau/Ronny/LO are offense looked rectangular.

  6. Great analysis. Spot on. I’ve been interested at my own reaction to Pau. I don’t think I’ve ever been so sanguine about a player’s defects before. When we face better big men, I expect that they’ll dominate, but that it will be countered by Pau’s ability to score opportunistically, or pass to generally make our offense more efficient with his passing. And it seems like everyone else on the team understands what he can do and are ready to fill in the gaps.

    Last night there was a play where I think Aldridge set a high screen for Portland’s Point guard and Pau weakly showed (as Reed says) and had the laziest reach for a steal that I’ve ever seen. This results in both the screener AND the ballhandler rolling to the rim with Pau left alone. The result: Odom draws the charge. But Reed is right that it was ugly. But it didn’t hurt us as a team.

    I’m also extremely impressed with Portland. I’ve had their games on a few times this year but haven’t paid full attention. Aldridge kind of remidns me of Pau, with his strengths and weaknesses. And like I expect Pau to thrive with Bynum, I think Aldridge will thrive with Oden. In fact, next year they’ll have a pretty similar team to the Lakers if you consider Outlaw/Roy to be comparable to Odom/Kobe. And they have a deep bench and the perfect coach. I still give the Lakers the edge at each position for now, but there will be some great battles between these two teams in the years ahead.

  7. This LIttle Pinky February 27, 2008 at 11:27 am

    If you want to be part of a car, not everyone can be the engine, and not everyone can be the wheels.

  8. what pau brings, above everything else, is ‘an extra gear.’ Not in the sense that he becomes the extra gear, but in the sense that his presence can unlock another level in the offense and that he saves other teammates’ energy.

    This is evident in how Kobe and Lamar have changed their games. Kobe’s game seems far less forced (which means that he can always move onto the ‘force things’ level if necessary) and Lamar’s game just materialized. With the extra depth he brings (as much as i’d like to see him with Bynum, i expect a lot of minutes where just one is present on the court), he or Bynum can not only start/close games, but also demolish the other teams’ second unit.

  9. Pau’s not much on the boards, and last night made that as apparent as it has been during his tenure with L.A. That being said, I don’t feel like his rebounding prowess – or lack thereof – will be as big of a problem as his soft defensive tenacity. Last night was an example of a time when it WILL be an issue though; if Lamar’s in foul trouble, this Bynum-less Lakers unit will struggle on the glass. If Lamar stays on the floor, we’ll be fine. He’s as gifted a rebounder as any [big] 3/4 in the league, and I also feel like we’ve got a decent corp of fairly quality rebounding guards. We can cover Pau on the glass.

    I’m not sure we’ll be able to cover him defensively, though, and that is going to be a problem come late-March or early April if we don’t get Drew back and we’re still trying to fend off teams for a 1 or 2 seed. I don’t think it’s an issue of “IQ” as much as it is of toughness. Pau doesn’t play particularly tough, and when this trade happened a month ago, I heard more than a few people throwing the word “soft” around. Do I think he’s totally soft? No, but there’s undoubtedly room for improvement. I agree with Reed above, talking about how he seems to play defensive solely to stay away from the foul sometimes. I also feel like his footwork can be improved, and that’s an issue I have full faith that the Lakers’ staff can cover. The fortunate thing here is that Pau is going to move “up” in this department long before he moves “down.” I’m not too worried about it until we hit a potential 7 game series with the Greg Poppoviches, Manu Ginoblis and Tim Duncans of the world.

    But, what about LaMarcus Aldridge closing down the first half last night? Does that kid have some serious stock, or what?

  10. Pau Guau!

    4 – I also noticed that once Odom went to the bench.

    I was warned by FB&G to watch Pau check for blood after getting hit in the face. I’ve seen it a couple times already. Hilarious.

  11. Pau has his good days and bad days in rebounding. But he’s definitely not a natural, tenacious rebounder. He doesn’t have the DESIRE factor, ala Dennis Rodman, Charles Barkley, Moses Malone. With that said, Pau is most effective when he doesn’t have to fend off BIG, strong players like Shaq, Pryzbilla, and Kaman. I think he will do better against players like Duncan, Boozer, and Nowitzki. Pau’s lack of strength and vertical limits his rebounding range to basically his arm’s reach, which is not too bad. I just think he needs support from his guards to pick up balls that he can reach but can’t quite grab. On defense, he’s a Euro. Has any European player been known for good defense? Still, his intelligence and length provide defensive stops in the crunch time, such as his left handed block of Aldridge’s shot in the 4th quarter. No, Pau will never be TD or KG. But he is smart and talented enough to step up when he needs to. I just think he doesn’t put as much effort into D as he does in O, because O comes so naturally to him.

  12. The Lakers have won 12 of their last 13. That’s a current pace of .923. If they continue at that pace, they will win 2 more games.

    Since they acquired Pau Gasol, they’ve won 10 of their last 11. That’s a current pace of .909. If they continue at that pace, they will lose 2, MAYBE 3 games.

    That means that at their current pace, they’re headed for 62 to 63 wins!!

    You know what that means…

    Kobe Bryant for MVP!!!
    http://www.respectkobe.com/?p=17

    And with Bynum coming back, who can handle the Lakers?

    Lakers Championship 2008!!

    Kobe Bryant, Finals 2008 MVP!!

  13. BTW… also check out this article on statistics (it compares Kobe and LeBron, and shows that Kobe is a MORE EFFICIENT scorer than LeBron, and at least equal to him in rebounding and assists).

    http://www.respectkobe.com/?p=18

  14. Pau isn’t a good rebounder, let’s face it, he doesn’t have the body for it. He’s too lanky to be physical pushing people around down low. Sure, Lamar and Andrew are lanky, but there are differences. Both seem to have stronger lower bodies, which is really what gets you the rebounds.
    Andrew’s an interesting case. He’s not really strong (or stocky a la Barkley) enough to push people off the block, but his ability to jump with both hands in the air is simply amazing for someone his size. I remember (what seems like a year ago) him rebounding over Tyson Chandler like he had a good six inches on him. He doesn’t, it’s just that he can go up quickly and quite high despite being stretched vertically.
    Lamar uses his strong base and extremely long arms effectively, but I think Lamar still goes ball-hunting and gets a little lazy on the box out too often.
    Pau has too high a center of gravity to box out with strength, and he is not even that much longer than Lamar. And his vertical leap with his arms over his head is downright Yao-like.
    But with Andrew back, we’ll have the glass well covered.

  15. This post shows exactly how much the Lakers need Bynum for that playoff push. Without Bynum, I can see the Lakers getting past the 1st round, but everything after that is a crapshoot. With Bynum’s rebounding and defensive presence, the Lakers are definitely THE team to beat in the playoffs.

    I’m also incredibly curious to see how Lamar plays with Pau and Bynum both out there…

  16. is there any limit in the comment text? it looks like i can’t post my comment…

  17. Break it into two, no big deal.

  18. 16. There is no word limit, however longer comments are often held by the system for moderation, usually because someone innocently used one of the many words in the system designed to keep comment spam off the site. So long as a comment abides by our commenting guidelines (no personal attacks, no profanity) it gets approved.

  19. About this MVP thing, because I’ve seen it increasingly in reference to Kobe. Using statistics to back up his case seems silly to me, and ultimately it doesn’t resolve anything: There are so many statistics, and so many different kinds of players, you can always find some set of statistics to back up whichever candidate you want to support. So the award gets a little more subjective, and the criterion often thrown out there is, does he make his teammates better? I think that’s almost right, except I would take out the “-mates” part.

    In 2004, we had plenty enough talent and skill to win the whole gonfalon (I know, I’m speaking out of sport here). The problem was not that the teammates weren’t good enough; it’s that the team wasn’t good enough. The best band isn’t necessarily made of the best musicians; if they’re not on the same page, musically, it’ll sound impressive but uninspiring. A team full of Jason Kaponos won’t do very well in the long run, even though they might shoot the lights out; you need not just a mixture of skills, but the right mixture. Of course you need good players–that’s the job of the GM–but you also need a coach and a floor captain who’ll move the pieces the way they ought to go, the way they need to go.

    This year, it seems, Kobe has been able to do that. For years, people wanted Lamar to be Pippen to Kobe’s Jordan. They wanted that because Kobe was the closest thing to Jordan after Jordan. But I think that was a misguided desire, because Lamar is no Pippen, or vice versa. For better or worse, there is no other player like Lamar, and it is a credit to this team that they have found a way (with Pau’s help) to let Lamar fit with the rest of the team simply by being Lamar. It makes the team better, even if Lamar perhaps isn’t quite the player he could be if he were shoehorned into the Pippen role. It’s like that up and down the whole team, and certainly the whole team (and the coaching staff) deserves credit for that, but in terms of players, it all starts with the man in front, Kobe.

    And because it should be about who makes their team better, it’s clear why the award should go, and almost always does go, to a very successful team. It’s why I agree that Kobe should not have won the award prior to this season, despite his transcendant scoring in 2005-06, say. But it’s also why this year, for the first time, Kobe should get real consideration, not the token consideration he’s received in years past. He may not win it; there may be other worthy players. But if someone else does win it, they’ll have to have led a team that not only wins a lot of games, but does so with cohesion and with harmony.

  20. Pau is a natural 4 plugging in at the 5 till Bynum gets back.

    Simple as that. We should admire how he and Odom have been filling in at the power positions. It is also a good time to imagine what it’s going to be like when Bynum comes back.

    Harold brought up a good point – Pau’s arrival affected a lot of players’ roles in a positive way. Bynum’s return should do the same. This will only serve to help Pau and Kobe. I just wonder what the coaching staff is going to do with Lamar – play him at the 3 or use him as backup bigman along with Turiaf. I’m guessing they start him at the 3.

    The question then becomes – how will this affect LO? He’ll probably have the biggest adjustment to make – on D especially, where he’ll be guarding quicker 3′s who can shoot the rock as opposed to the rugged 4′s of the L. He won’t be banging down low anymore, but now we’ll have an extra wing player who can grab some defensive boards (to go with those 2 pairs of long arms in the paint). On offense, LO will be a matchup nightmare for opposing 3s. Oh, and the floor should open up even more for Kobe to find his teammates. Actually, our whole team will be a matchup nightmare.

    I just want to try to bring ourselves back to Earth – we can criticize Pau all we want for his D+ rebounding and C+ defense, but we gotta remember that we’re judging a natural 4 playing at the 5 position. Of course he’s gonna get manhandled on the glass (example: Al Horford in our last loss), look at Pau’s frame – the guy would be the skinniest center in the L. We gotta remember that he’s a 4 and we probably have the perfect complement for him at the 5 (when he comes back). Hopefully Odom turns out to be the perfect complement for the rest of the team at the 3 position.

    I’m guessing that despite not having the best jump shot, LO will thrive at everything else we ask of him when Bynum comes back. That is the just a piece of the scary puzzle – even with how well we are playing right now, we can only GET BETTER with the return of Bynum (and hopefully Ariza).

  21. LO will thrive at the 3, I think. I wouldn’t underestimate his ability to D-up a 3, either. His quickness is nothing to scoff at, and I’m satisfied that he’d be able to frustrate even the best 3′s in the league. Those that can get around his length will get filtered to the the 4 and 5, which will give Lamar the cushion he needs to play his game comfortably. I’m reminded of the versatility Lamar showed on the defensive end of the court in the PHX series in ’06, an understated reason we were able to go up 3-1 in that series. I don’t see any problem with playing Lamar as a big 3 at all, on either end of the court. I think it’s going to be an extreme advantage for the Lakers come playoff time, being able to show Lamar as a 3 or 4 at any time.

    Lamar’s problem has always been focus, and/or how quickly he can find his place in a game. Since the Pau trade, this kind of thing hasn’t been as much of a factor with Lamar. He’s looked good all month. Anyone have his numbers? He has to be looking at something around 15/12/4, right?

  22. hi guys, i read your comments here dayly so i’m a huge basketball fan from spain.

    I want to write some about the post 1 which talks about pau’s brother ( Marc ) and DKV superstars Rudy Fernandez ( draft right now in the blazers ).

    i began with Marc, first to say is about nobody in spain , a couple of years ago, could imagine that marc will be at the level he currently is. I don’t know if you remember Fran Vazquez, number 11 in the 2005 draft by orlando, so FC Barcelona change the rights of marc for the rights of Fran vazquez in a move. Now everybody said the trade was awful for FC Barcelona. Marc gasol has developed in this last two years as a dominant force in the paint in his actual team ( akasvayu ), leads them in points and rebounds. He’s stronger and have more intensity than his old brother pau, he rebounds better and has the same height but pau is better in all the offense and obviously in experience. He’s averaging about 27 in a rank that is similar to yous efficiency ranking ( he ranks at #1 in all the Spanish league, and rudy ranks 2 in near 25 per game ). you can think about him in a 7 foot version of turiaf with better post moves who can score three’s.

    now talk about rudy, yes, like #1 said in the post, he will be a star, he is a tremendous offensive force who can score from the outside with a good % or penetrate and dunk with quickness. he is the #1 in scoring points in spanish league. He passes very well and rebounds well too because he has a great jump to be a white guy. He defends well and is a good stealer. the only lack i put on him is he is too thinny actually althout he has a lot of stamina. you can’t compare his dominance at the game with pau gasol because gasol was at 18 when he exploids in ACB 8 only 1 year in proffesional) and rudy has 23, and is proffesional since he was 16.
    but, there’re another NBA star caliber in the same team, ricky rubio a PG of 16 years old who becomes proffesional at age of 14. rumors put him in #1 in draft in a couple of years. ( if anybody wants to know more about ricky rubio can tell in a post ).

    i agree with the opinion that gasol fits perfectly in the lakers triangle, because he can exploits his offense skills and his weakenesses are covered with bynum and odom rebounding abbility and D.

  23. 21. This month, Lamar is posting 14.5 points, 11.6 rebounds, 4.5 assists shooting 60% FG, 53% 3-pointers.

    I’m just taking of my hat to show lamar some respect

  24. LO on O: As long as he has the confidence to take open jumpers (so the offense doesn’t stall like it does with Luke) and he keeps cutting (like Tex Winter has been begging him to do for years) then LO at the 3 should work.

    Pau on D: I think Pau will be a great weakside shot blocker. Most teams we would play in the playoffs (Dallas, S.A.,Pho,GS,NO,Den) don’t have 2 much less 1 low-post threat. Drew can guard the big and Pau can bring the helpside. I think it’ll be o.k. Also, 81 Witness talked about that 1-2-2 zone. I think we will use that too, I just think Phil is keeping it on ice for now. I think it’ll be valuable because Odom up top on that zone will create some havoc.

  25. Slightly off subject but I found this clip of Bill Walton playing horse with Will Ferrell on espn.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/broadband/video/videopage?videoId=3267201&categoryId=2459788&n8pe6c=1

    Doesn’t look like Bill has been putting too much emphasis on staying game ready…

  26. 23. Wow, I just guessed – either way, my man is sizzling. I expect those numbers to stay in the same area as the Lakers keep improving.

  27. I think is stupid to compare a Power Forward with players in Center position for the rebounds aspect. Also, the creator of the analysis probably doesn’t know what is like to be in a new team after playing 6 years in another team, to fit in (something that Pau did amazingly, probably like no-one expected) and how this can affect the stats of a player (even if in this case they didn’t at all), the way of playing and how this can create some difficulties at developing your game (and i repeat, amazingly this is not the case!).
    Anyways, to say that PG is an awful rebounder just because of the first 11 games in his new team really says everything about the person who made that analysis.
    I also don’t understand what have to do strenght with blocks and thinness with strength, but i don’t want to keep going.. i better keep some of my thoughts to myself.

    And of course we have not yet seen everything Gasol can do.. do you think we can see it in 11 games? Don’t make me laugh…

  28. A Grizz fan here, and I hope you’re enjoying Gasol more than Memphis fans are digging Kwame. I’ve watched Pau since his rookie season and here’s some random observations about his game…

    • He’s just not that interested in rebounding. Watch him during a game and he just stands and watches when shots go up. His length helps him get five or six a game, but he’s simply not committed to the idea of rebounding.

    • He is selfless almost to a fault. Most of the time, he’d rather dish an assist than score.

    • It won’t be a factor since LA has the world’s greatest clutch player, but Pau will wilt if the heat rises too high.

    • Gasol doesn’t get the respect from officials that he’s probably due, and has periods where he’ll whine to refs while his man is running for a layup on the other end.

    • He’s an offensive machine, but seems to have a self-imposed limit of about 25 points. I’ve seen him get 18 in a quarter, yet still wind up around that 25 number for the game.

    • The one season that he didn’t play for Spain in the summer, Gasol came back bulked up and simply killed people for the entire season. In fact, that was his one and only All-Star year.

    • Pau will play through a lot of injuries that would keep other players out of games. He’s much tougher, in that respect, than people give him credit for.

    • Pau has good hands at catching passes, but opposing guards can generally strip him pretty easily.

    • Can supply some weakside blocks, but will probably always be a defensive liability, to some degree.

    • Agree with those who say the Triangle has Gasol’s name written on it. He’ll provide a big scoring punch in a highly effective manner. Expect to see a lot of 8 for 11, 10 for 13 nights from Pau. His FT shooting is also respectable for a big man.

    I’m still a Memphis fan (as sad to admit as that is) and hate that we got rolled on this trade so badly. However, I’m rooting for Gasol and wish you guys nothing but the best.

  29. Oh my… im being CENSORED just for not sharing an opinion in this forum!!!!

  30. I find that hard to believe.

  31. 14 – excellent point about Andrew and his finesse and arm control when jumping. The thing I’ve noticed about him this year is his ability to focus on the ball (both for rebounding and blocked shots) while maintaining his footwork and aggression, all the while not fouling. If you watch his eyes, they’re constantly surveying for defenders or the ball. His clutchness when it comes to shot blocking is unparalleled this season with 9.5 blocks per 48min clutch time. The next two highest guys are Camby at 6.6 and Kaman with 5.8 – that’s how you make a reputation for yourself around the league, by shutting people down when it counts. [rebounding stats courtesy the folks at 82games.com]

    On to the subject of Pau, if he ends up being the worst rebounder at his position on the floor (this would probably be tied with Fish), I don’t think it makes much of a difference. I posted a comment a while back here about how we’re already a top 5 rebounding team and only look to get better with Bynum coming back, despite the fact that our trio will pull rebounds from each other (well, once Bynum gets back it’ll mostly be him and Lamar fighting for it unless Kobe is in one of his ‘I require the ball to shoot immediately’ rebounding modes).

    Pau has been amazing in every regard, but I must say that the area I’m most pleased with is his scoring. He has averaged 21.4 ppg as a Laker which would put him at 16th in the league. When you’re a team built on offense (Lakers bounce around the top 3 in the league – and let’s be honest, I know we need great defense to win, but the triangle is an offensively focused team strategy) you need to have guys that can score. It’s been some time since we’ve had two guys who are in the top 20 in scoring and can bust out a 30-40 point performance whenever it’s required. This is what you need in the playoffs (unless you’re the Pistons). You must have two players who can light it up any given night and carry you with scoring when the going gets tough. Pau fills this role – much better than even Bynum, who was quickly becoming the second go-to-guy.

    While I think that we’ll need both Pau and Bynum healthy to make a run this year, I think that Pau will be much more instrumental…at least for now. If you consider the strengths of the two:

    Pau – consistent offensive game, playmaking, weak side blocking
    Andrew – consistent defensive game, developing efficient offensive game

    I’d take Pau over Drew in the playoffs this year. I still think Drew will be a (much) better player at the end of his career, but Pau is what makes us immediate contenders.

  32. I can’t believe it… i just make sure that my post doesn’t contain any personal attack or profanity and still doesn’t get approved

  33. Hey 32
    Are you a Laker hater? No haters are allowed on this website….cmon now. If you bash the Lakers, you shouldnt be on this site.

    We come to talk about Laker Glory, not argue with haters. If it’s a cool post, there is no reason why it wouldnt post on here.

  34. 29/32. I tried to be subtle with you (see 18) but since that failed I’ll try to be more direct — your first couple attempts at that comment were deleted because they were filled with personal attacks. Frankly, if people don’t agree with you, that does not make tham an idiot. Secondly, if you don’t think Reed knows something basketball, I’d question your knowledge of the game.

    Third, posting anonymously while making those kind of attacks shows a lack of maturity. That said, once you rewrote it, I did approve it, #27, so I’d read before making comments.

  35. Interesting that some people want to fight the unfavorable rebounding stats (which are based on season numbers, not 10 games), and yet no one is too concerned about the extremely positive shooting % numbers (which are based on only 10 games).

    Laker fans: we’ll out homer any fan base.

  36. The fact is i’m a Laker fan, i just wanted to give my thoughts about the ‘analysis’ (if we can call it that way) above.. but i don’t care now… i’m no longer coming here… i don’t like forums where you get censored just for not sharing an opinion or because they have kinda ‘special’ moderators..

    Regards with dissapointment from Spain.

    Bye

  37. Reed,
    I always enjoy your comments, and you are right, we will out-homer any fan base. I dont see why people get so defensive about the #’s. You were just throwing out what has occured in the first handful of games.

    People make it seem like they know these players on a personal level or that they were expert analyzers of the NBA. Everyone has an opinion. This is just meant for discussion and fun. If people disagree, they should do it respectfully and give reasons why.

    Keep up the good work.

  38. 28 – thanks for the interesting tidbits grizzdaddy. I must say that as a guilty pleasure, I’ve been looking up the boxscores for Memphis games fairly frequently to see how ol’ ‘Butterfingers’ Brown is doing. Hopefully the Grizzlies can make magic happen like the Lakers did and turn nothing into something with his huge expiring contract.

  39. 36. Well, I don’t like forums where anyone can go around spouting off at the mouth, disrespecting others opinions and a high quality analysis like the one that sparked this conversation. It was in-depth, bright and unbiased. You seem to simply be unwilling to admit that Pau has some faults.

    Honestly, reading your post (27), I can say that many, many people believed Pau would fit in right away. From the outset, folks around the league were saying he was a perfect fit. Either way, I digress, and adios.

  40. 28. That is really helpful.

    38. I also hope Kwame pans out. I don’t know why. All signs point to him being lazy and unprofessional. But I’ll still always have a soft spot for him. There’s something tragic in his career — well, as tragic as making millions of dollars for doing nothing can get…

  41. Couple of good games tonight. Defintley wanna see that Phoenix/New Orleans game, and the Celts/Cavs game shouldn’t be too bad either. Might be looking at 2 Western playoff opponents and our Finals opponent.

  42. Reed, you da man. Your stats showed everything clearly, you merely put them out there for us. 42′s a joker.

  43. Err… Previous 42 is a joker. LOL.

  44. 36. if there is something I like from this site is the regular commenters. The one that where here the first time I came and the new ones (and missing John R)

    Reed has our back.

    BTW!
    the guy at “Hey Larry Hughes, please stop taking so many bad shots” is quitting, not because he don’t like to do it but because the cause of the site is no longer there. That’s a great site and worth my words

    http://heylarryhughespleasestoptakingsomanybadshots.com/

  45. Apparently, Kurt does not like being labeled a hamburger addict. On that front, “anonymous” had me pegged.

    How do we hope the Western Conference seeding shakes out? Who are our matchup problems?

  46. Great comments on Pau. The only thing I would add is the impact he is having on Lamar. Lamar is playing incredible. Everyone has recognized his improvement on the offensive end and of course his continued rebounding. But, what has not been noticed too much is his improvement on defense. It appears to me Lamar has been able to roam a little more freely and has provided tremendous help defense. I cannot recall Lamar having as many block shots or alterating shots and deflecting passes as much as i have seen recently. I know the coaches or others kind of had a Scottie Pippen model for Lamar (in fact Scottie came in to coach him a bit I remember), but I don’t think that is too far off once he moves to the 3. Lamar is already playing a floor game on offense as Scottie used to with Chicago, and once Bynum comes back I think we can let Lamar free to roam on the perimeter (Kobe too for that matter)- sound familiar? I think Lamar’s size and relative quickness can be quite effective roaming on the perimeter.

  47. I’m spanish, from barcelona, I’ve watched gasol since he was 16 and i, like everyone with two eyes, admit that pau gasol, as some faults, not to mention because all of we’ve said recently most of them.

    His lack of rebound instinct comes long time ago ( i don’t know if we understand this expresion i try to explain me best i can ) because when he was 16 he played at SG spot , yes, far from the paint and he liked to make threes, not to fight in boards because he was taller but extremely thinner. but this lack of instinct isn’t enough problem to grab about 8-9-10 rebounds per game if necessary ( like in the grizz , here with odom and bynum when returns i think it won’t be ).

    good times to be a lakers fan, good times to see a very basketball team.

  48. 45- Here is my ideal bracket for the Lakers

    1/8: LA v. Hou
    2/7: SA v. Den
    3/6: Dallas v. Pho
    4/5: Utah v. NO

    1/4: LA v. Utah
    2/3: SA v. Dallas

    1/2: LA v. SA

    I think we matchup well with Houston (sans Yao), GS and Denver, who are all too small to stop us. I think New Orleans presents more problems for us than Utah, and I think San Antonio will be the biggest hurdle to getting out of the conference. Parker and Paul kill us especially if their respective sharpshooters (Peterson, Peja, Ginobli, Finley, Horry) are hitting. Plus SA has Duncan and Pop.

  49. I think the easiest answer is San Antonio, especially if fully healthy. I think the Kurt Thomas pick-up was a smart move, however low-key. Manu’s playing phenomenal basketball this year, and getting those guys in a seven game series is going to be tough for any team. Kind of obvious for me to say, as they are the defending champions, but in my opinion they are truly the only road-block to the Finals for a healthy Lakers squad (or Conference Finals, for that matter, if we pull a bad luck 2 seed against an SA 3).

    I would’ve thrown the Rockets out there, but it’s hard for me to pretend that they’re the same team without Yao. Sure, Tracy McGrady has [arguably] the worst playoff track record amongst superstars in the league, but I really felt like this could’ve been a year for them to make some noise in May.

    I think we’d beat the Suns in 6 in a 7 game series. Honestly, I think that the Lakers are now a much better team than the Suns, hands down, even if only because of the bench comparison. Kobe talked about it last night: we simply have the best bench in the league, and I can’t really think of any team that could make a legitimate argument that that statement is incorrect. The Suns, of course, are notorious for lacking depth, and I think they’ll miss Shawn Marion in April and May more than anyone in Phoenix is willing to admit as of yet. The ability to “slow down the game” with Shaq doesn’t compare with a guy that can play lock down defense against four positions. Go at Shaq, get him in foul trouble, and Phoenix is as vulnerable as any playoff team in the West, especially with Marion’s departure. Was he a locker room cancer? I’ve heard different things, but it seemed that way. I still think Phoenix should’ve stuck to their guns and given it one more shot this year, playing “their way.”

    That being said about Phoenix, these two teams know each other extremely well. Even if we have a better unit one through ten in LA, there’s no guarantee Phoenix couldn’t steal a couple of games, and even a series. I don’t see it happening, though. If it comes down to close games, advantage Lakers via Kobe/PJ.

    LAL/PHX will also have a ton to do with home court advantage. We’re fortunate to have the tie-breaker in the Pacific.

    Dallas, I’m not sure about. We’ll get a good look at the new look Mavs on Sunday. In a seven game series, I don’t think they’ve got what it takes to beat the Lakers. I usually don’t buy into guys having trouble “adapting” to a playoff environment., but Dirk has had a rough stretch the last 7 playoff games or so, and I think Jason Kidd is something like 8-23 in Western Conference playoff play. We’ll see. Honestly, I have to watch them more often.

    Who do we want?

    I want Utah, though they’ll probably win the division over Denver and we’d have to wait (if we finish in the top half). They simply don’t have enough backcourt defense to hang with the Lakers’ guards. Honestly, I think we’ve got them down low too.

    I’d also take Denver. They’ve got talent, but George Karl is as mediocre a coach as there is in the West. They can put one or two games together to compete, but they’re just too inconsistent to win a series in this competetive conference.

    Golden State is one of those teams where you just can’t ever tell. Ol’ Nelly is crafty, and in a series where you only have to prepare for one team, I think they could be a handful. I doubt it, though.

  50. 48. I fear Utah. Strong inside, tough, good quick PG. A lot of problems for us.

  51. How about defense, though? They gave up 111 to MIN last night? I wouldn’t think they’d have a prayer. Jerry Sloan is a top 3 NBA coach, though. You can never count that out.

  52. 49/50-I guess I agree with 49. I feel Utah doesn’t have anyone to check Kobe, but I guess New Orleans can’t claim to have a Kobe-stopper either (Mo Pete=81)

  53. Not just Kobe. Fish, too. Most important though, have to remember Jordan Farmar. The kid is two months away from being bonafide. No one plays the PT card better than Phil Jackson, either.

  54. thanks to the 1st post on giving a balanced look at pau. here in the philippines, we don’t get to enjoy laker games as often (in fact 1-2 times a week on cable tv is already a blessing) so i don’t have much to say about pau gasol’s contribution AS A LAKER (i liked him in memphis but thought he was lacking in a some areas ( he can be a liability on D with the likes of amare and duncan and hopefully not shaq 1 on 1) that the lakers can certainly mask, if not drive him to improve on). i look forward to seeing more of his games than in just espn or nba.com highlights and so again i will not say much about his game. i am also thankful for his presence though.

    i also agree with the one who said kobe is just as good, and at this time, even better than lebron in terms of overall production and skill. i think more still regard him as the best in the world and even a class act, and some are not as honest to admit they do like kobe’s game and would instead bash him (albeit other things he has done off court)

    on the post by kwame a. i certainly agree that the playoff picture out in the west will more or less look the same as you posted. i also do agree, with some reservation that we will crush the smaller teams lest they jump early on us. it’s more of the lakers making oppnonents adapt to size and triangle game FROM THE GET GO (i didn’t really like the game with portland as much but liked the aura of dominance the lakers projected “oh we will hang around and will win at the end of the day”) than us being beat by their small ball.

    about the spurs: i so look forward to the days when we swept the spurs and in crushing fashion. i think this is an opportune time to reclaim past glories and furthermore, introduce the new generation title contender for the nba. it’s not about a solo act, not a dynamo duo, not even a trio but the lakers are presenting the league with the idea of a formidable TEAM loaded at all positions and in a good way. this is the future. if you’re not gonna be good all around at any position, you’re not gonna get pay. that’s why a focused lamar is so important to us and i still see room for improvement. bynum should learn shooting from distance early and thank God for jabbar. he’ll be a monster.

    about the east: we should not be as concerned as some posts i have read before. this a new lakers team that boston and detroit thus far have only heard of and watched about. (assuming either of them reaches the finals)

    i have to some extent been a staunch kobe defender and i say again, when this man sees blood and this year he does, it’s game over. and even if the lakers do not, hey, we shocked and rocked this year with the rare position of being able to doing it for a good 3-4 more years. his killer instinct is only equaled by jordan’s. that, for all intents and purposes, is key to any championship team—someone to say it’s okay, when we’re all down, expect me to take the game to them and pull off the W.

    last note: it’s a good time to be a laker fan, and a basketball fan. but more than that, i think we have more to discuss about and celebrate about than some fans think. in other words, to lakers fans out there, let’s not be blind supporters. the lakers are good for a lot of reasons not simply because we say so.

    Go Purple and Gold!

  55. It should also be said that Leandro Barbosa has no chance in the world of hurting the Lakers again this year the way he did last year. (SEE: Suns comment in 49)

  56. PJ Brown to the Celts, guess that’s good because he was thinking about signing with the Hornets/Rockets.

  57. Who are we most scared of coming out of the East, if we should make it to the Finals? Boston or Detroit?

    I can’t throw Cleveland in that discussion, because of the “Lamar at 3″ dialogue we had earlier. Lamar at 3 would just eat up LeBron, I think. LeBron likes to drive, draw attention, and kick if he can’t score. Lamar would give him fits at the 3, for two reasons. One, if LeBron wants to score, he may be able to beat Lamar, but with proper game planning, the second defender (5, preferably, Drew) would make that task a [comparatively] low percentage shot. Two, if LeBron wants to kick, who will he kick it to? We have especially solid guard defense, and Cleveland doesn’t have a guard that consistently beat Fish/Farmar, and certainly not Kobe.

    So anyway, Cleveland’s out. They’ve had there way with us the last few meetings, but a seven game series against the new look Show would be a whole new ball game.

    I’d say Detroit, to be honest. Tough call though.

  58. So, here’s a question for you guys- What are our chances (in your opinion) of the Lakeshow doing damage WITHOUT Bynum? I contend that we could have fought for a title (heavy on the fought) with Bynum before the injury and Gasol trade. Gasol>Bynum. For now. So I can’t help but think that even without The Big Successor we can get to the top. Thoughts?

    And Kurt, I really appreciate the way you keep the boards corralled. Everyone here has already said it, but having an open, organized forum for the exchange of free thought without the petulant sh** you see on just about every other site is what keeps me coming back. I’ve often said that there should be compartmentalized awards for blogging, with “best board” one of the categories. I think this one would win.

    I’ll end with a little algebra…

    KB24 = MVP08

  59. Utah scares me, as they have something that Lakers are trying to get – a stable one-two punch. Thankfully they’re not as disciplined on defense as other Sloan teams in the past, but when they have Kirilenko at his best, and Memo back to his top form, they’re VERY dangerous:

    5 – Memo, he can draw Andrew out (or Pau) and spaces the floor
    4 – Boozer, a worthy matchup for either Andrew or Pau
    3 – Kirilenko, who is pretty much a Russian Lamar, downright to the fragile ego…
    2 – Korver, not quite Kobe, but better than Sasha
    1 – Williams, enough problem for both Farmar/Fish to offset any disadvantage they might have at the 2.

    It will be a tough matchup for any team, this Utah team, but thankfully their bench isn’t nearly as deep as ours (not a big deal sometimes since the PO sees many starters play extended minutes) and again, they really can’t claim to stop us consistently.

    Still, i’d much rather face Warriors or even Dallas…

  60. 49/50. LA/Utah is a series that could go 7. Utah doesn’t lose at home much. That said if LA won 2 of the first 3, I could see it ending fairly quickly. Utah does have issues on D, and we’ve been carving up mediocre defenses lately. And the Twin Towers might help us (some) keeping Williams out of the paint. If Utah is limited to jump shots, LA will be able to outscore them regardless of where the game is at.
    The Jazz and Hornets give us the same problems (i.e. murder by Point Guard), but I think the Jazz would be much tougher in the playoffs. They were there last year, and NO won’t have anywhere near the same home court advantage. The Lakers will dare CP3 to score 50 each game if he wants to win.
    Phoenix? We own the Suns. I think another matchup would make great theatre, and maybe a few great games, but I find it hard to believe they could take us beyond 6 games. Just like last year’s SA/PHX matchup-hopefully with less suspensions/corrupt officials though so the Phoenix fans can’t babble on about conspiracies forever though…
    I’m real interested to see the upcoming game with Dallas, but I just don’t think they’re good enough to do too much. I’d be more surprised by them making the Conf. finals than I would be by another 1st round exit.
    Spurs……….Lakers v. Spurs. It must happen. The torch must be passed. I’m certainly not saying it’ll happen this year for sure, but I hope it’s the Spurs the Lakers beat in the Conf. Finals the year they break through, it only seems right.

  61. 55> i think we still have a chance to win the title without Bynum although as you said, it’s gonna be a heavy battle.

    i also want to express my appreciation to Kurt for keeping this blog as tidy as possible. I find that comments on this blog is way more intelligent than other blogs that i am frequently posting my thoughts.

    btw, Reed, i think your thought is really spot on. i wonder you’re so good hehehe. are you a basketball coach?

    GO LAKERS!!

  62. err….wonder why you’re so good

  63. As we speak, New Orleans is beating the Sh!t out of the Suns. For now, the division is securely ours with a game and a half lead.

    Pau Gasol is like a hot babe that you have coveted upon setting your eyes on. Unexpectedly, getting her number was as easy as the lame pickup line: “Hi, do I know you from somewhere?.. ”

    Suddenly, your kissing, your cuddling and you still wake up in the middle of the night to check if its only a dream. The Hunks from the other tables are looking contentiously at you for having “nabbed” the chick.

    Why can’t we all enjoy the moment? Suddenly, you want her to move in now, learn how to cook and have kids?

    Easy does it.

    Someday, she’ll be your wife and she’ll be more than glad about it.

    Someday, she might even learn how to cook.

  64. 58> your analogy is funny LOL….i wonder if it’s your romantic dreams :p
    i totally agree with your thought…Gasol is a perfect fit for the triangle offense…

    but even in a perfect relationship, there’s always something we could improve.
    in this case, Gasol definitely could be better defensively…whether he will or not, it’s up to him and the lakers coaching staff.

    one thing for sure is Gasol might not have to improve defensively, if bynum could return 100%.

    it’s so good to be a Lakers Fan….and btw, the hunks you mentioned in your post is definitely POP from SAS LOL

  65. 51. I’ll grant you the Jazz defense has been pedestrian this season, and in the backcourt we should get mismatches. But I think they could give us more matchup problems than most.

  66. So I was at the game last night. It was a lot of fun, and after reading the comments yesterday talking about Pau’s poor rebounding I was kinda looking for that, and lo and behold L.O. gets in foul trouble and the Lakers couldn’t find a rebound if it bit them in the ass.

    But there’s one thing I was pretty curious about if anyone could help me out. Whenever Sasha was in the game guarding the opposing point guard (it seemed like he usually guarded Sergio Rodriguez), he’d look over to see what play Nate was calling and then tell the Laker bench. I know there was an article on True Hoop about this recently, but because it seems like they use codes for the plays I’m wondering what the significance of this is. Does Phil know the plays and instructs them how to respond, or doesn he tell the bench so the coaches have that info for future reference, or is it something else entirely? If anyone knows the answer and can share some insight I’d greatly appreciate it.

  67. Ugh, I pictured Gasol’s face on a woman’s body for all the stuff in your post Warren =(.

  68. Kurt,
    I agree the Jazz will be tougher than most think. While I believe the Lakers have better players,both are teams that finds players who fit their coach’s systems.
    What makes Utah so tough is their unrelenting physical pressure in a Playoff Series.(In the Rockets-Jazz Series last yr the Jazz were constantly holding onto jerseys when Rockets players tried to cut. The only time they were called for it was when one grabbed T-Mac’s jersey so hard he pulled jerked T-Mac backwards.) The Jazz push,jab,clutch,stick a hand in your back and shove when you go for a rebound(esp Boozer),and they do it all game long. The refs swallow their whistles fairly quickly because they become accustomed to the Jazz playing that way. This can frustrate a team that is not extremely mentally tough(like the Spurs). And if the other team tries to retaliate w/the same tactics it’s so out of character that the refs quickly ring up several fouls,further frustrating Jazz opponents. Note that this is more of a Playoff thing than a regular season thing because there are fewer refs involved and their film study is more focused. So even tho they’re watching film,looking at missed calls,they’re subconsiously absorbing Utah’s physical play is normal for them.
    One thing I’ve noticed is how the Lakers let the refs bother them. This is why I think the Jazz can be esp dangerous.

  69. Assuming Drew gets another month of games on his belt before the playoffs officially arrive, the Lakers are the deadliest team in the West – but the Spurs are still the team to beat.

    If we use Kurt’s pre-season roundups and apply it at this point, Dallas, Phoenix and San Antonio lived up to its expectations. With the additions of Kidd, Shaq and Kurt Thomas respectively, these 3 powerhouses remain the powerhouses of the West.

    The 2nd tier teams are supposed to be Utah and Houston. With Houston grabbing its 12th straight victory yesterday, they have proven they can play with the big boys. Utah has been simply one of the hottest teams as well before bowing out to obscure losses to LA Clippers and Minny. So far, without taking Yao’s injury into account, they too lived up for what they were pegged at.

    No-margin-for-error teams are Denver and LA. Denver remains that very team while the Lakers have exceeded all expectations (including their own) even before the Gasol acquisition. Instead, the Lakers now join the elite teams in the West while keeping its future in tact.

    New Orleans and Portland certainly made headlines and New Orleans continue to be the wildcard entry for this year’s playoffs. With how tight the West is played this year, it would therefore be a safe assumption to make that Houston drops off from the race while New Orleans secures a spot. Denver becomes the beneficiary if Houston indeed bows out of the race.

    We are talking about THIS YEAR alone and that does not include future references to Dallas, Phoenix and San Antonio in 2-3 years time.

    The way its going, the Lakers will cruise into some easy victories until the end of the month with home vs Miami tomorrow and @ Portland on following night.

    I am predicting March to be a defining month (as if February is still not defining) because here is where our schedule gets lighter. Its imperative that we put away lesser teams with relative ease as we slowly integrate Bynum back into the rotation. We will have a mini-road trip of 4 games against good Western teams in the middle of the month but none of these will be on back-to-backs.

    Mar14 – @Noh
    Mar16 – @Hou
    Mar18 – @Dal
    Mar20 – @Utah

    Practiacality and Optimism combined, I project us to go at least 11-4 on March. Assuming we do get the last 2 games of Feb to finish the month 14-1 with a total of 42-17. Add on my projection for March, 53-21.

  70. LOL at you 66. Think of the one I pictured as Penelope Cruz or Eva Mendez instead. :) :) :)

  71. 58) “What are our chances (in your opinion) of the Lakeshow doing damage WITHOUT Bynum?”

    That depends on the Lakers not named Pau or Kobe. The top seeds will be able to do a reasonable job of handling Pau and Kobe – not shutting them down, certainly, but also keeping them from completely exploding. (At least for some of the games.) So the rest of the team will have to play well – Odom, and at least three of Fisher, Sasha, Farmar, Turiaf, Vlad, and Luke. With Bynum out, the perimeter defense is going to suffer, too, so they will have to score a lot to win.

  72. I’ll admit I haven’t seen the Portland game, but I’ve watched all the other Pau games since he’s joined the team. His ability to score was always said, but none the less I’m terribly impressed by what he’s been able to do in the few games he’s been with the Lakers. Not just the layups and dunks that were created by good spacing, good movement, and good passing, but even creating one-on-one, some of the contested hook shots he’s hit for us have been surprising and pleasing.

    My concern with Pau is how we close games once we get Bynum back. Assuming our closing five is Fisher, Bryant, LO, Gasol, and Bynum, we’ll be facing a defense that will sag to its hearts content daring us to beat them from jump shots, which will make Bynum, Pau, and LO (who is okay at jump shots, but I’m yet to be convinced that I want him taking 18+ foot shoots late in close games) practically irrelevant on offense, leaving just Fisher and Bryant.

    While both Fisher and Bryant can damage teams from outside, as a coach from the couch I would like to have one more player who can consistently hurt from behind the arch. While I realize much of late game situations depend on score, possession, match-ups, and how each player has been playing, I’ve wondering who I would want on the floor in the last five minutes of a close playoff game.

    Just for the sake of argument, If Bynum is playing like he was before his injury, who would you want facing SA in a game seven with a tie score late in the forth? Am I over estimating the power of offensive floor space by saying I’d be strongly tempted to have Rad or the Machine over Odom, with Fisher, Bryant, Gasol, and Bynum to round out our closing five?

  73. I am rather surprised to see nobody pointed out some problems from last night’s game. The Lakers starting 5 looked very, very soft against the Portland starters. These kids are young and not afraid to be physical. I actually think the starters were rather shell shocked when Portland came out with authority. Hard picks, pesky defense, and bodying on the glass.

    Rather than look at this as a negative, the second unit recovered well. Showing finesse against the zone and firing back with pesky defense. Sasha is very underrated in this area. PJ switched out Luke because Sasha was a pest on Outlaw and others. Brilliant move PJ. Rest Kobe on D and let him take over on O.

    Teams with this same mental toughness combined with referees calling “let them play it out” games will be tough on the Lakes. The front 5 is injured or injury prone (Bynum’s knee, Pau’s back, Odom’s shoulders and knees, Walton’s knees and ankles, Bryant’s pinky, knees, and shoulders). The only player who is not banged up, plays passively on D, not bad, but passively (will stop the PG drive, but will flop from time to time).

    Most of you are right on the teams that will give the Lakers problems, but for the wrong reasons. Utah, Detroit, and Boston could all beat the Lakers in this scenario. Utah has several players who can bang it out like Boozer, Okur, Ak, and their back-up forward. Detroit has been playing physical for years. Boston has some good defensive players who are not afraid to be physical and usually get away with it like Pierce, Garnett, Posey, and the very under-rated Perkins on defense.

    Any of these teams can body up against our starting 5, but a lot of the success will stem from the play of the bench. Like last night.

    Also, Aldridge looked fantastic last night, but he needs to know his body will break down if he continues his physical play.

  74. “Just for the sake of argument, If Bynum is playing like he was before his injury, who would you want facing SA in a game seven with a tie score late in the forth? Am I over estimating the power of offensive floor space by saying I’d be strongly tempted to have Rad or the Machine over Odom, with Fisher, Bryant, Gasol, and Bynum to round out our closing five? ”

    Derek, I’m probably one in the minority here but I would actually put in Jordan Farmar for more flex. Jordan can bring up the ball and set-up, he can play SG as well and he has good choices of hoists from the arch. This would effectively put Derek in the corner for the sweet three as Kobe plays the 3 spot.

  75. I totally agree, We got the right guy, Pau is the best big man to execute the triangle. Somehow I had that in the back of my head( I think all hardcore Lakers fan thaught the same way) and is really pleased with the trade. I really cant wait for Bynum to get back in the mix, but honestly Im more exicited and looking forward to Ariza’s return.. Come crunch time in the playoffs.. He will make us proud and glad that the lakers traded for him. HE IS a part of the puzzle..

  76. For those of you who feel physical teams will bother the Lakers – I agree. Bynum will help us on the defensive end, but only Fisher is somewhat immune to all the banging – he played for Sloan last year. Young guys get more flustered by the refs and the banging in the playoffs and the only team we have faced over the last two years are the Suns – hardly a physical bunch. Kobe is prone to get upset too, but I feel he will ‘cool it’ in the playoffs because there is so much at stake.

    I don’t know how Phil/Kobe/Fish can impress all this on the rest of the team, but perhaps they should be keeping more inside for this stretch run because that will be the example the others will remember.

  77. My worry is interior defense. Who is going man up Duncan, Nowitski, or Garnett. Odom can do a decent job trying to hold off shorter post players like Amare or Boozer, but we did lose some post defense with Kwame.

    I would love to have player like Battier who cover the 2,3,4 slot and hit the 3pter. Maybe Ariza could be our Battier?

  78. Much of the talk about the return of Bynum has centered around how well he will work with Gasol. But perhaps this question becomes a little less important if Bynum plays with the second team. I know the possibility of them playing together makes most of us quite giddy, but maybe it is best that a full integration of Bynum into the first unit waits till next year or deep in the playoffs. His position on the second unit would add even extra strength to an already strong unit, he would serve as the focal point (which he wouldnt on the first unit), and the integration of his and Pau’s game could come much slower and without needing to be forced (risking upsetting the current successful balance). If I were Phil, I would start Bynum out on the second team, give him some opportunities to work with Pau, and then decide based on their progress whether to increase or decrease their minutes together.

  79. # 59, i am as reserved as i am about facing the jazz. however, head to head, the lakers can outlast the jazz, can be beat at times at worst and dominant til the end at best.

    about opposing teams sagging on the lakers, i really don’t know if they can keep this up for long and if the lakers are spaced well enough for shooting big men and shooters alike, that should not be a problem.

    OR use your kobe and destroy the defense with backdoors, kick ins and outs and perimeter shooting. if it works, they can take 1 of the frontline men with radmanovich or perhaps sasha at 2 with kobe playing 3 but that’s as normal a play as you’ll get and still they won’t look desperate

  80. Interesting comments: Pau Pau Pau.

    Suppose you had a new car, and you took your friend for a drive. The seat is comfortable, the acceleration is great, the brakes are great, the gas mileage is amazing. As you’re driving along, your friend asks you to cut off the main highway and return on a dirt road turned to mud.

    As you ride together, your friend says, “this car is really terrible in mud. My old car could return home in mud at a speed of 15 MPH, while your car is going less than 12.”

    You say, “my car could go faster, but I don’t want to get stuck in a mud puddle or use up too much fuel.”

    Your friend says, “I just hope that it doesn’t rain any more if we take this road back home–unless we take my old car–that was a car that could handle almost any kind of mud.”

    Comment: It all depends on one’s point of view.

  81. I’m definitely conflicted about seeing the Lakers face the Jazz in the playoffs. On the one hand, with Jerry Sloan’s experience, their collective toughness, and incessant pick-and-roll’s, they can most definitely give us some trouble. On the other hand, some of my greatest playoff memories involve Jazz home games. Their crowd is unbelievable and take playoff intensity to the max. If we were to beat them in a series, it would be rrreeeaaaalllllyyyy fun to watch.

  82. The way I have seen these Lakers use Big Chief Triangle’s system since Pau came over, I don’t think sagging down is going to help much honestly…and Lamar has touch from mid-range too. I think our back court has enough shooters to keep defenses honest and if Pau and Bynum are playing together I think they’ll get some interior passing action going….these Lakers suddenly have so many bloody options it warms my heart to think there could be another banner on the way…

  83. 73. Loved the props to Sasha’s D. You’re right, that is a bright area of Sasha’s game that’s easy to overlook, especially as of late as he’s been shooting as well as anyone in the West.

  84. The Jazz had their way with the Pistons in the second half last night, too. Some of you seem to be on to something. I shouldn’t have underestimated the hard-nosed tenacity of a Sloan-coached team, either.

  85. then again, PJ has a history with Sloan and is as familiar as anyone can get with Sloan. I mean, he took the Bulls against them two years in a row… and the Jazz team Sloan has today is a LOT like the team that he had then. This, of course, works the other way too, Sloan has faced PJ too :)

  86. Man, the Suns got problems (as shown last night). And they have very little to do with Shaq. They were having trouble defending bigs before, and maybe he helped that, but they traded the one guy who could help Nash at all with Point Guards. While there are a lot of great big men in the conference, every playoff contender but the Lakers and Houston have dominant PGs now.

    Moreover, as Jeff Van Gundy pointed out during their game v. the Pistons last weekend they’re reduced number of shooters allw teams to collapse around shaq more, clogging the lane, preventing cuts and making the half court game less effective.

    Finally, trading Marion has emboldened Amare to the point where he’s diminating games instead of Nash being the focal point and making sure everybody gets equally involved. Amare’s number look great, but they’ve come at the expense of the overall team’s numbers.

    I think the Suns could try to get through to Amare on the last point, and they have to try to go after Barry to increase their outside threats, but the Point Guard issue is unsolveable. They have to hope Nash can outgun (via points and assists) Paul, Williams, Parker, Iverson, Kidd and Baron.

    The only teams I see Pheonix beating in a seven game series are Denver and a depleted Houston. I think the Shaq trade doomed them- just not in the ways I thought it would at the beginning. It has almost nothing to do with what Shaq can give them.

  87. The question about Pau is not whether he is a good rebounder but whether he is an effective rebounder. I would contend that he is not a good rebounder in that he doesn’t really box out and go after rebounds. He relies on his length and incredible hands to grab rebounds that fall in his area. And the stats say the Gasol is actually a pretty effective rebounder. His rebounding stats per 48 is 11.4 which is 12th amongst Western Conference forwards just behind Nowitzky’s 11.4 and ahead of Lamarcus Aldridge at 10.3. You could argue that Pau should be measured against centers but I would argue that in fact Lamar performs the roll of a center as far as defensive rebounding is concerned (initating floor position to establish himself as the primary rebounder). Pau’s position as the auxillary rebounder isn’t likely to change once Bynum returns and therefore, he is likely to maintain his rebounding rate which would make him a pretty good rebounding power forward.

  88. 81 – UCLaker Fan: You bring up an interesting point. As a fan, it can be tough to decide what you’d rather see: favorable match up or best all-around series. For example, as a Red Sox fan (long story), I am always terrified of playing the Yankees in an important series, playoff or otherwise. Then again, there is very little that comes close in sheer “thrill factor” to a series like that, and often I ended up hoping the two face-off when everything is on the line, even if the probability of losing is a bit higher.

    As a Laker fan, at the moment it seems we have no defined nemesis/team that strikes fear into our hearts (at least this is arguable), and almost any Western conference series is bound to be insanely exciting. Still, it brings back memories of all those Sacramento series from earlier in the decade: they were tough, we almost lost some of them, but I always felt like it was better to go through them than not. (Admittedly, I’m a younger fan, so I can’t recall the Boston/LA matchups from the 80s, but I assume something along those lines occured then, too.)

  89. (87) Bill,

    I completely share your perspective.

  90. 86. I saw it coming. That was allegedly Marion’s biggest issue with being a Sun; instead of being the “star” he felt he should be, his role was basically to protect Amare and/or Nash on the defensive end of the court. Both Amare and Nash are as big of liabilities at their position defensively as anyone else in the league.

    I’m on the fence with Shawn Marion. I understand where he’s coming from, and it seems unfair that his primary purpose on the team was to cover up the deficiencies of the other guys. But this is also the guy that said during the off-season, “I’ve often wondered what it would be like to be a star on a bad team, instead of a role player on a good one” (or however he worded it). To me, that’s the quintessential spoiled athlete, and the antithesis of a winner. But now, having seen exactly how much he really was doing for Nash and Amare, I kind of see where he was coming from. The only thing is, he still got plenty of praise for “being Shawn Marion, a star” in PHX. I guess it just wasn’t enough.

    But yeah, PHX is in enormous trouble now. I’m not going to lie; I really expected this. I talked to a few of my buddies from Glendale, die-hard Suns guys, and they tried to rationalize the hell out of this trade. I didn’t push the issue too much because, like me, they can be sensitive about their teams, but I think any non-AZ Homer that’s been watching PHX (and us Laker fans have had our share these last few years) closely had come to realize exactly what Shawn Marion meant to the club.

    I don’t know if the ship is sinking for sure just yet, but it seems that way. We keep hearing D’Antoni and Shaq, and even a little from Nash, that they’re still trying to “see where everything fits.” I don’t quite buy it. I feel like they know they can’t play the same style of basketball now without Shawn Marion, and that has to be a big issue with D’Antoni. Nash has to be in a haze right now, as the theory that he will never win a championship is looking more and more like it’s going to be true with every passing day. Amare’s loving life, though – he’s coming out like a stud every single night. 86 brought up another good point, though – it’s not exactly equating to wins.

    We’ll see with Phoenix. Of the big trades that went down, Shaq to PHX was certainly the biggest experiment. Pau fit right in, virtually automatically. Jason Kidd is on his way, if not already there. Shaq was basically the oval that needed to fit into the square space, and they’re still sanding the corners. I’m not willing to totally count out PHX just yet, but in order to make it deep in the playoffs, they’re going to have to draw a lucky seeding… at least that’s how it looks now.

    I’m also not entirely sold on D’Antoni as a [championship] winning coach, but that’s a different topic altogether.

  91. man, a whole lot of reading before this blurb. given that caveat, my apologies if this has been covered already. the true beauty of adding Pau to the mix is that he can play both the 4 and the 5 in the triangle. Pau can play both the weak side and the strong side of the triangle. on the weak side, he’s gonna go to work w/the pick & roll or pop. try to slide help over from that strong side and bynum will dive for that “throw it up there” pass. imagine 7 footer passing to 7 footer! if they switch spots, Pau can go for a solid post move, if the double comes from the perimeter, Kobe or Dfish will have their ways. Tex and PJ are probably giggling everytime they ponder the possibilities. there is one problem, LO. while he is thriving now, if Bynum is added in, then that key is going to be crowded. i guess that is a pretty good problem to have considering……..Pau is definitely a sub par rebounder for his height. given his height, his 6,7,or8 caroms a game will be fine. his largest contributions will be on that offensive end once the team reaches full strength.

  92. I’m surprised that of everything I wrote, the rebounding criticism has generated the most buzz, both positive and negative. I think the far more interesting statistical insight is Pau’s unparalleled offensive efficiency. With LA, he is the single most efficient scorer in the league. This is massive. My big picture point was — we now have the single best triangle big man in the league whose only weaknesses seem to be totally masked by his teammates. I did not intend to slight him as a player, just understand how he best fits into our team.

    I’m curious whether his incredible scoring rate will/can hold up with time. Hopefully the trend of an increased proportion of interior and assisted looks continues — he’s a good high post isolation player, but he’s much more effective when scoring inside within the triangle passing game. It seems that Kobe and the guards are still learning how to integrate him into the flow of the offense, with Pau getting a lot of straight isolation some nights/quarters and assisted looks in others.

    I agree with those who think Pau’s rebounding will improve when he moves to the 4. He’s miscast as a 5 as he doesn’t have the body to deal with strong 5′s, either on defense or the boards. When Andrew is back battling the biggest bodies, clearing out the lane, and getting the really contested boards, Pau will be much more free to gather rebounds from a help position. (Still, though, the fact that we feel the need to cast him as an “auxiliary” or “secondary” rebounder shows he’s a little lacking in the area — we don’t talk that way about other 4′s: Garnett, Duncan, Boozer, Jefferson, etc.). Either on Memphis or LA, Pau’s never had someone like Bynum to do the brunt of the physical work, so I’m excited to see him play the role he’s more suited for — scoring power forward.

  93. Hello everyone, first post! First of all, I’d like to say that I’m very impressed with the basketball knowledge that is shared within this blog. Kurt, Reed, and Kwame a. all have great posts which can even be compared to the sportwriters we see on Yahoo, ESPN, etc. If I left anyone out, I apologize (still relatively new to this blog).

    As for Pau’s rebounding, a lot can be stressed that his lack of strength hurts his rebounding. However, even with the addition of Bynum, would you guys think it would be wise for Gasol to get some strength training in? It really is a shame that Harford (a rookie, and actually a natural power forward, mind you), completely dominated on the boards due to his superior strength.

    With this extended window of 4-6 years that we have to take the championship again, as long as we can keep everyone (although that’s just a dream that probably won’t happen!), I feel that the team won’t need too many trades or tweaks. Every player has found a niche in this team (perhaps with the exception of Chris Mihm, who we should probably let go); what other improvements would you guys like to see from the rest of the team?

    Personally, I’d like to see Ariza develop a 3-point shot. Everyone who’s watched a Laker game with Ariza has seen him open for the 3 in a corner, just to brick it. He could be so much more valuable to his team if he got himself a shooting coach and learned to stroke the 3 (a la Udoka in the Spurs). His defense, strength, and high flying are great, great assets, but I can see this kid becoming so much more!

    On a side note, has anyone noticed Turiaf’s jumpshot (even some fadeaways!). He’s finding a way to score as an undersized PF/C that is not only limited to post moves.

    Would absolutely love your thoughts on this, guys!

    -KW

  94. Anybody have the latest on Bynum?
    What is his status? I know he was jogging in the pool and they were monitoring the swelling and how he reacts to that, but then what?

    Approx how much longer are we looking at from this point?

    I know we dont want to rush him, i’m just trying to get an idea. 3 to 4 more weeks??

  95. don’t forget about Pau’s wingspan, with Andrew back, and Pau able to roam a bit, he’ll be able to “tip to himself or teamates” with those long arms.

  96. As someone currently living in Utah, I would love to see the Lakers play the Jazz this postseason–it will be very satisfying to gloat =)

    Being here, I’ve watched a lot of Jazz games (stupid local broadcasts), and I’m not as sold on them as a lot of others are. Yes, they have an extremely good home record, but this tends to mask a very mediocre 12-18 away record. In fact, they’ve lost 3 of their last 4 away games to sub-500 teams (Sacto, Minny, and those lovable Clippers)–the only game they won was against Seattle.

    As many people pointed out, their defense has not been very good of late, which I’m sure is giving Jerry Sloan fits.

    I agree with several of the other posters that Utah is going to be a dangerous team in the playoffs, but I don’t see them beating the Lakers. Deron Williams and Boozer are very solid, but AK47 and Korver are both streaky, and a 7-game series would not be favorable to them in that respect either. This is especially true of Korver–he has had some very poor shooting games recently.

    Honestly, the team that I’m most worried about as a potential first-round matchup is Golden State. It seems like they can score 130 at will, and they will be another very difficult team to beat on their home floor. I know the Lakers can run with them, but I’m having a hard time forgetting about Dallas last season.

    All things considered, I think that Denver and Houston would not present much of a challenge, so a first-round series against either of them would be just fine with me =)

  97. 94. I think the news reports say that he’s coming back late march, but he’s not going to push it (he wants to be 100%!)

  98. Very good point, reed. But calling Pau, a power forward seems a bit oxymoronic. He’s a tweener forward with the skill sets of 3, 4, and 5. He can shoot the mid-range (I bet he can hit some 3s if he worked on it), pass, make some dribble drives, post up and hit hook shots with either hand. I mean, he is just SKILLED. His high basketball IQ and unselfishness makes him the perfect fit for triangle as everyone has pointed out. That said, Lamar is very similar in that he can do almost everything Pau can do but with more athleticism. We have 2 guys with skills of 3 and the body of 4 and 5. When our true 5, Andrew comes back, the possibility of lining up different lineup to give match up nightmare will be amazing. If the start the Gasol, LO, and Drew, they can totally dictate how to defend and attack by the first sub they bring in. Radman or Sasha for LO/Bynum to shore up shooters. Farmar and Ariza for Gasol/Bynum for fastbreak. Ariza and Ronny for Gasol for lock down D. Man, we will have the most versatile/flexible team in the league by FAR.

  99. Don’t know if this has been said, but the strength of the bench (Turiaf) will allow Phil to play with match ups if Pau is getting killed inside by a stronger player on offense.

    I would like to see Pau come back next season with a more solid core muscle wise. This seems to be the place where the weak spots in his game disseminate from. Maybe Yoga with Farmar in the off season.

  100. anyone got an answer to post #66?

  101. I think the jazz match up very well against the lakers. Our key will be the play of pau and bynum. If bynum plays ‘bigger’ than Boozer can handle, and pau out muscles Okur, then kirelinko will be forced the help and lamar can get easy baskets on the dive. if bynum lets booze root him out and push him around, it may be a long series.

  102. 97:
    There was a game recently….i think it was the last time we played the Cavs…During a free throw, Mike Brown was talking to Daniel Gibson on the sideline. Phil signaled Sasha to go over and stand right next to them and look at what they were drawing up on the clipboard.

    I remember the commentators saying how the Cavs players should give him a shove or move him out of there….something along those lines….that it was borderline cheating.

    Interesting point you make. Dont know the answer, but i’m sure even though teams have certain codes they use for stuff, i’m also sure there are also quite a bit of general terms used when a coach is trying to get the team to execute in a certain fashion.

    I’m going to start watching for that more.

  103. sorry…i meant tony starks post.

  104. 102, I remember that game. I think that circumstance is a little different though, as that was during a break in play I think. This was during the course of the game while Portland was setting up their offense, and Sasha isn’t the only one to do this. The True Hoop article mentioned that Shane Battier does this for the Rockets, and it may have mentioned a few other players but I don’t really remember. That being said though, if anyone still has an explanation for this (original question is post #66) that’d be awesome.

  105. New Miami Heat preview post up.

  106. 98 – You said what I was thinking: it’s interesting to compare Gasol and Odom (for the good and the bad). Both are agile bigs, with flexible skill sets and good team games with a tendency to err on the side of deference. (It might be too early to judge that last one for Gasol.) When Bynum comes back, I think they’ll both be able to attack and defend in many different ways. I’m really happy we have a coach who can put that kind of flexibility to work.

    For me, the big question about Gasol is whether he can step up and play high pressure, half-court, foot-on-throat team defense, of the sort that championship teams need. The downside of the weak schedule we’ve had since his arrival is that we don’t know for sure. If nothing else, his offensive abilities will take a lot of pressure off Bryant and Odom on that end of the court, allowing them to focus more on lockdown defense of their own.

  107. good post. but you forgot one major point: Pau is the anti-Kwame. thats the reason why he works so well…

    [edited]

    Kwame is big. Pau is slight, like woman.
    Kwame is a bruiser. Pau has finesse, like a dancer.
    Kwame has cinder-block hands. Pau has the sensitive touch.
    Kwame has never hit a anything over 7 feet. Pau has a nice short-mid range game.
    Kwame doesn’t pass well. Pau does.
    Kwame was the first pick in the draft. Pau was a steal from another country.
    etc etc.

    another point that should be made: we all see Lamar raising his game – now that the pressure is off (or, to prove he deservers that spot), but i still would like to see him fined everytime he gets called for a charge (2.5 pg)?

    also: true lamar and sasha are playing better- but what about D.Fish? what happened to his shooting? and Luke? make him a 6th man asap…

    we still got a longs way to go if we cant close out the TBlazers.

    -CJ

  108. Gasol is an excellent fit. He and Kobe seem to have gelled already. Definetly looking forward to the playoffs. Go Lakers!!!!