Preseason Game Thread: Lakers v. Barcelona

Kurt —  October 18, 2008

I think the Lakers are in trouble here. Kobe is a very good on-ball defender, but I don’t see how he can mark Messi…..

Now that the obligatory soccer joke is out of the way, let’s talk hoops.

For a look into what we can expect from Barcelona, we turn to one of the long-time readers and most knowledgeable people at this site, Xavier. For you that don’t know him, he is a Barcelona resident and professional basketball coach. (In fact, he just got a great new job as the head coach at the El Masnou youth team and development program, the place that developed Ricky Rubio from ages 7 to 13. Great position for him and we wish him the best!)

What does he tell us about Barcelona?

FC Barcelona had a very irregular season last year and still managed to play the ACB finals. For what I’ve seen this preseason, they are doing lots of good things to solve it.

First and more important, JC Navarro is back home. He might have been a sub in the NBA but in Europe he’s a basketball god (ala Jasikevicious/Spanoulis). He’ll probably have more enemies in US because of what he said after the Olympics final (regarding the traveling calls), I’d better prefer to forget silly arguments from both sides and remember it as the one of the best finals ever. I don’t know if he’ll be ready to play big minutes, he’s back from an injury and just played 4 minutes last game. We’ll see this Saturday how it goes.

David Andersen (from CSKA Moskow) and Daniel Santiago (former NBA and Unicaja Malaga) are the new centers of the team. Andersen might be considered a better player but who I really like under the basket (at least at a FIBA level) is Santiago. They might not start together so they spare minutes at the 5.

We Will not see Andersen and Santiago as starters because the kid called right after Bynum in 2005 draft has just waken up. I don’t know why Fran Vazquez got drafted so high and the question marks in my head are bigger when I ask myself why he didn’t go to play in Orlando. Since then, he’s not being playing good… since this season. He’s starting to show the beast he was before being drafted. I like him better and should be one of the reasons for this team to battle for every title.

Ersan Ilyasova plays the multiskilled do it all role. Had an adaptation year last season and started clicking by the playoffs. Basile will give an extra scoring punch from the bench.

Jaka Lakovic and Andre Barrett will handle the PG. Lakovic is more of a scorer while Barret will be setting more plays for the team.

Every other player, Sada, Grimau, Trias, Barton… would be core players in other euro teams but play the role of glue guys

They are a very well balanced team. Every single backcourt player is a threat from three point line and the reborn Vazquez along with Andersen, Santiago and Trias set a good inside level.

Matching the Lakers:

Neither Lakers or Barcelona likely will play this game as a regular season one, Lakers in pre-season and Barcelona already 3 games into competition need to have their players in optimal conditions for the titles that really matter.

That said, I’d like to see how can the Lakers defend the pick and roll. That will be interesting because if they close lines and try to stop the penetration they will have shooters outside killing it or bigs with soft hands and if they wait for Gasol or Bynum to get from the week side they will see why in Europe we still use the mid range.

Outside defense is not great, the Lakers should try to beat them off the dribble to force them close inside then start ball movement we all like.

I like that the Lakers are going to have to deal with a good pick-and-roll team, they are going to see so much of that during the season and into the playoffs that this is a good test. As will be defending a team that moves well off the ball and can pass like the Lakers can.

Should be a fun one to watch.