Monday Morning Links

Kurt —  October 6, 2008

Just a few things to read to start off your week (hey, why aren’t you working?).

• Blogger previews for the Atlantic division are now up. That, of course, includes the Celtics, where there are a host of good previews (the team has a lot of good bloggers). I think Jeff of Celtics Blog sums things up well:

Very little went wrong last year, so “weakness” is a relative term. In truth, there are more potential weaknesses than glaring holes. The bench was questioned last year but ended up becoming a significant strength. This year’s younger group faces the same types of questions and has the same kind of opportunity to prove its worth. Specifically a lot of pressure falls on the untested shoulders of Patrick O’Bryant if Kendrick Perkins misses any significant time.

Scribes will point to the team’s age as KG, Pierce, and Ray are all a year older. But Doc has made a point of saying that he’ll try to rest Paul and Ray more this year. So the team may not keep that same breakneck pace that saw them steamroll through the regular season last year. Of course then we start sounding like the Detroit Pistons, wondering if and when the team will be able to “turn it on” for the playoffs. Then again, the Pistons don’t have KG barking (litterally) at his teammates to step it up. Bottom line is that if the veterans can stay healthy and well rested, age shouldn’t catch up with them just yet.

• Attention stat heads, there is a new site set up by Jon Nichols, where he has set up something called the “composite stat.” It is what it sounds like, a blending of a players offensive rating, PER and defensive +/- into one stat. Pretty interesting stuff, Kobe finished 8th in the league by this measure last season, with KG at the top.

Nichols also did a little writing for Lakers Nation, taking a statistical look at how Pau and Bynum should blend together.

What do all these numbers mean? Surprisingly, the Bynum-Gasol combo might work out a lot better than some people think, provided they can make some adjustments. Gasol has a strong enough outside game to compliment Bynum’s more bruising style. In addition, both players are great passers, which should keep the offense running smoothly. Bynum is a great rebounder, which makes up for Gasol’s mediocrity in that area. On defense, Gasol has shown the potential to guard power forwards, but that aspect does remain the biggest question mark of this experiment. Bynum is a great shot blocker, so he should be able to help Gasol out.

I love stats, but I’m not sure it is the best measure to see if two players can adjust their games. I think there is more observable evidence this pairing will work — as has been pointed out by a number of people here, Gasol looked great in the Olympics when paired with his brother, and forced to become the four. Also, all reports out of practice so far have Phil Jackson praising Pau for his play overall and particularly in a recent scrimmage.

• In case you missed this, everyone has been reporting Odom’s salary for this year at $14.1 mil, but it turns out that is not correct. That is his cap number, which includes a trade kicker he got from the Shaq trade but was paid out long ago. He is actually making $11.4 mil.

For some Lakers fans who have oddly decided to make Odom the whipping boy, that is still to high. I think that is closer to his real value — we’re talking about a 14 and 10 guy who can handle the ball outside, play in the paint and was a key part of a team that made the finals. Those don’t grow on trees. If the Lakers biggest problem this year really is how to integrate Odom into the lineup, it’s going to be a very good year.

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  1. ahaha, you got me with the “why arent you working?”

    but i am glad there was fresh new content waiting for me this morning to help me slack off.



  2. Interesting stuff on the Pau Bynum combo. I agree with you Kurt, I think Pau looked great playing PF in the Olympics along side of Bynum so I am not too worried on how well they fit together. I think they will be find, and we have a pretty good coaching staff to figure out how to make it work to the maximum effect. Bynum should be good on the Offensive glass because Pau gets a lot of attention in the post and can draw a double team when facing the basket (he has a pretty good facing the basket game).

    I also think that the two of them will benefit each other defensively. The main benefit to Pau is that Bynum is a great rebounder so he will be able to shore up that particular weakness in his game. Pau is also a decent help defender coming from the weak side (thats where most of his blocked shots come from at least from my observation) and playing the 4 will put Pau in that position more often. The biggest problem I see is Pau’s ability to guard the more perimeter oriented 4’s such as Nowitzki and Rashard Lewis, but the Lakers are versatile enough to where Phil can tinker with the rotation to create better match ups.


  3. Did you guys see Kevin Ding’s story about Luke’s stalker?

    Scary stuff.


  4. Wow. It makes you understand why some of these guys want 24-hour security.


  5. Kurt,

    Great comment on Odom. I personally think too many so-called fans put too much blame on Lamar. I mean, we went from a projected 8th or 9th place in the Western Conference to contending for the title and, like it or not, Lamar was a big part of that.

    I think people forget just how dominant the Celtics were doing the regular season. I for one knew that it was going to be very tough for the Lakers to get passed them.


  6. a question for those of you more knowledgable than me. If Kobe ends up playing small forward this season, and if Ariza really did improve on his shot, do you think Ariza can play shooting guard some of the time?


  7. This season has nothing but huge promises written all over it. Let’s all hope for good health by everyone.

    Only one more day until the Lakers vs. Jazz game and NBA 2K9 coming out… I can’t wait!


  8. I always thought Pau did a decent job defending. He is a true 7 footer, who can move prety well. His length disrupts alot of players. He held his own against the like of Timmy and KG. I think it will only help the Lakers more, if they want to take their perimeter minded 4’s like Dirk and Lewis away from the basket. Only helps Lamar and Bynum clean everything up. The Olympics gave us a pretty good preview of Pau playing with another big man, as he did with his brother Marc.

    I can’t wait for tomorrow. My team is one win away from going back to the ALCS and I could barely care.


  9. I’ve got to playfully zing Kurt a bit about the banner ad running down the right side column… Sponsorship revenue is great, and no one should begrudge you from whatever support you get in order for this community to continue its existence.

    But it’s just brutal to have to look at Kevin Garnett’s mug in that God-awful Celtics green jersey — on a Lakers fan site, no less.

    Fir that alone, I hope that “NBA 2K9” banner ad contract expires soon to prevent us all from having a Celtic invade this little sanctuary.


  10. I don’t always see the ad running on the right (the deal is set up through Yardbarker and Adify, they sell the ads, I have some code and the ads just appear in the space). I can reject them if I want. And as much as I want to reject KG, NBA2K9 is a good ad.

    But I hate seeing KG there as well.


  11. Kurt,

    If you were Kupchak, how much would you be willing to extend Odom for — and for how long?

    I think Odom is worth $8-10 million per season. But I wouldn’t exceed $10 million per year on him.


  12. does anybody know if the pre-season game vs utah is televised tomorrow night? if so, what time and channel? (time for tivo, but what to tivo? the debate, or the game…???’s)
    also, when do the Dodgers play next?


  13. 12. 7 p.m. Pacific on NBA TV, so I think the game is opposite the debate. Unfortunately, The Dodgers don’t play again until Thursday (when the Lakers are in action again in Fresno).

    11. Well, I’d see how this year plays out first, but I’d say that three years $9 to $10 mil seems about right. But, there would have to be a talk with Mr. Buss about priorities and budget, because you’ve got to pay Andrew. Are the Lakers better off with Ariza at $5-$6 a year and letting Odom walk? That’s why I want to see how this season plays out before making any decisions.


  14. oh yeah just go on ignoring my question (no. 6). I thought it was a pretty good one. (jk)


  15. rubens,
    I’ll tackle your question…

    I think that if Kobe really does play SF, it’s to accommodate a line-up that involves Odom or Sasha playing in the backcourt and not Ariza. We all saw how this worked last year for Sasha. And with Odom, I think we’ll see that it’s a maneuver to take advantage of Odom’s ball handling allowing him to play on the ball more and to utilize his ability to cut on the weakside from the top of the key vs. having him cutting from the strong side on the baseline.

    In the end though, realize that there is not much difference between the wing positions in this offense. You need multi-skilled players who can handle the ball, pass (both within the scope of reading the defense and in making post entries), catch and finish around the basket, cut & catch & pass to the open man, shoot (enough to be a semi-threat, at least), and (overall) be able to read the defense in a way where you are making the right basketball decision within the scope of the offense. The bigger difference for the offense (in terms of playing the wing) is where you line-up and what options of the offense are utilized based off that positioning. If this offense is dictated off every player moving/reading/reacting, a lot depends on what position you start and, therefore, where that positioning leads you when all that movement starts.


  16. Hey Kurt, do you have a link to where I can find all the scheduled games on nbatv? The official lakers schedule fails to list anything with nbatv. Thanks for the heads up.

    Season is right around the corner!!!


  17. #16

    That shows what TV station the games will be on.


  18. Chris J and Kurt:

    You’ll just have to move to Sweden – I don’t see KG there; I see a Swedish ad for a job site=)


  19. 6 and 14 –

    I think Darius pretty much said it all, but the main thing is this – the only reason we’d consider playing Kobe at the SF is to get what is essentially a 3-guard lineup on the floor, for example Fish and Sasha playing in the backcourt. If Ariza (a natural SF) is in the game, there is no real need for Kobe to play the SF. Offensively, I suppose the SG vs the SF would plug them into different roles in the triangle, and others would know much more about that than me. But my impression is that putting Kobe into the facilitator role at SF is a good option when you have a true scorer at the SG, at least someone who can hit a bucket (like Sasha).

    I’m not sure how much Ariza has improved his shot, we’ll all have to wait and see. But my instinct says he’ll be able to improve it fairly easily. Although he may always have a bit of a slow release, if his role is floor-spacer, a quick release isn’t necessary to relieve doubling-pressure.


  20. I think we are going to see so many crazy lineups this year — Kobe at the one, Kobe at the three, Kobe on the bench joking with Fish — and they are all going to be tried out at various times for various matchups.

    Don’t get to hung up on who is playing what position, as Darius said the triangle is about flexibility in the offense, which makes it harder to cover.


  21. #17

    Hey Gerrit, Kurt just said the game will be on nbatv tomorrow. That link you posted, which I’ve bookmarked a month ago, does not have nbatv written anywhere. I was just wondering where I can find a full schedule of specifically NBAtv schedule throughout the season, if there are any. I live in San Diego and wish I have KCAL, but I do have NBAtv.


  22. john(formerly vancouver now japan) October 6, 2008 at 11:26 pm

    or you can view it from your mobile and see really nothing but text!

    i cant wait to not be able to see any games at all this year. i miss the tnt gang already


  23. Fun stuff. we could actually see offense-minded lineup of Sasha, Kobe, Odom, Pau and Bynum.

    How’s Kobe as a PG in our system? Can he stay in front of them on defense? Kobe-Ariza-Odom-Pau-Bynum could be a very long and disturbing lineup to try if only for few possessions.


  24. Kurt, thanks for the new stat sites they look very interesting indeed. Yea, I am looking forward to seeing in action all the possible lineups of player options available to Phil, I am going to enjoy this year very much I feel.


  25. New post up: Know your enemy, the Suns. Done by Reed.