Year in Review (so far…)

Reed —  December 31, 2008

We’re 30 games into the season, in the midst of a lengthy break in between games, and approaching a new year – feels like a good time to take a long look at where the team sits, what it’s strengths and weaknesses are, and how it compares to its chief competitors. In that spirit, and to try and encourage objectivity, I’m going to throw out buckets of statistics to try and spark informed discussion of the team’s current state.

Team Stats

Notes:

• Looking at big picture stats, the Lakers appear weakness free. They score, defend, and rebound at top 5 rates, and their turnovers are respectable.
• They have made significant inroads in catching up to the best defensive teams compared with where they were at last year (now only 4.3 behind the league leader/Boston, compared with 6.6 last year). However, as we’ve all seen, the defense has been inconsistent, with an impressive start and last few games, but a scary stretch in between. Hopefully, increasing confidence in and execution of Rambis’ strong side zone will lead to results closer to what Boston and Cleveland are doing.
• Offensively, they probably are not going to get much better, as they are just off the league leading pace this year (Portland) and last year (Utah).
• They are a strong rebounding team, on both ends of the court, another area where they have caught up to the elite teams compared with last year. As we all hoped, Bynum’s presence alone seems to have solved that problem (which was gaping during the playoffs).
• Their point differential is almost at double digits, and about where the league leader sits each year. Last year they relied on offensive dominance to overwhelm other teams; this year they combine this offense with much improved defense and rebounding, leading to more stable, consistent success.
• Comparing LA to the other two elite teams, Boston and Cleveland, it appears we are right with them, but no one is set apart from the pack. Boston and Cleveland have marginally better point differentials and overall efficiency numbers, but we have the best records vs. playoff and contending opponents.
• It is noteworthy that Cleveland is significantly worse against playoff and contending teams than LA and Boston, perhaps suggesting that their success somewhat comes from beating up on bad teams (and that LA indeed has a boredom problem).
• Records vs. elite teams seems particularly illuminating to me in differentiating between real and pretend contenders. For example, note that Phoenix has 11 losses against playoff teams, is 1-6 against contenders, and is 2-7 against playoff teams on the road (with the wins coming against NJ and Milwaukee). Championship teams bring their A game in “test” games, especially on the road. LA is passing those tests so far.

Player Stats:

Notes:

• As expected, we dominate at SG, PF, and Center. The Bynum/Gasol combination at center puts us at first in the league in net production (PER differential).
• Point guard is a glaring weakness, especially defensively as Fisher and Farmar combine to allow an 18.4 PER. Tellingly, our PGs allow opposing PGs to shoot .500 eFG, the highest of any position against us. It is extremely rare for a team’s PGs to lead in eFG, given that they take so many perimeter shots (on our team, PGs shoot the lowest eFG at .489, with our centers shooting .537).
• Our PFs and Cs are extremely efficient shooting the ball, at .531 and .537 – we really should pound the ball inside at every opportunity. Other teams don’t have an answer for the length and skill of Gasol and Bynum (or Odom).
• Our best lineups feature a few common ingredients: Kobe and Ariza. Odom, Gasol, and Bynum are fairly interchangeable, although Odom appears more often than the others.
• Bynum is featured in all of our best defensive lineups, which we’d expect. This makes it all the more puzzling why Phil has often take Bynum out in offensive-defensive substitutions at the ends of game when transitioning to defense.
• Our team stands out in its depth. While it lacks one uber-dominant offensive or defensive lineup (compared to league leading lineups), it boasts the highest ratio of top 10 or 20 such lineups – there are just endless combinations of effective lineups for Phil to play with. I believe the best is Fisher, Kobe, Ariza, Gasol, Bynum – which should become our closing lineup in the playoffs.
• Odom is the best individual player in point differential per 48 minutes (+15.6), the best on offense (110.6 rating), and the second best on defense (95.0).
• Five other players have a +9.0 or greater point differential rating, revealing incredible depth: Fisher (+12.9), Kobe, (+11.5), Ariza (+10.9), Bynum (+9.9), and Gasol (+9.5).
• The team is 4.6 points better on offense with Gasol on the court than Bynum, and 4.9 better on defense the other way – meaning we get almost identical results, but at opposite ends, when we replace one with the other.

Final Thoughts

This team feels a lot like the 1999-2000 Shaq-Kobe Lakers, which was the most talented, but least experienced of the three title teams. That team was loaded. They finished 67-15, started Shaq, Kobe, Rice, Harper, and AC Green, with Fox, Fisher, Horry, and Shaw all coming off the bench (at a time when most of them were in their primes). Imagine bringing those four off the bench. They finished first in defensive efficiency and fourth in offensive efficiency. Shaq was unequivocally the best player in the league, averaging 29.7 points, 13.6 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks. Yet, despite their regular season dominance, they struggled through the playoffs, beating the Kings 3-2, needing the miracle 4th quarter comeback against Portland in game 7, and letting the outgunned Pacers take them to six games in the Finals. On paper, they were unbeatable, yet they hadn’t quite learned how to play as one and execute under pressure – resulting in choppy playoff play. The subsequent title teams were significantly less talented and deep, had worse regular season records, but were much more dominant come playoff time. I think this current Laker team is going to similarly end up with a sparkling regular season record (64-68 wins?), but struggle against less talented teams in the playoffs as their role players learn to deal with pressure and execute seamlessly, especially on defense (Bynum, Ariza, Farmar). We saw some of the same last year, with players like Farmar, Turiaf, and Sasha struggling at key moments — so hopefully some of the growing pains are behind us — but two of our top 5 players are still not battle tested. In the end, I think whether we prevail against teams like the Spurs, Celtics, or Cavs in intense series will come down to mastery of the small things – which Boston embodied so annoyingly last spring. If we can progress through the season and give our key young players the experience they need, then we should be the champions. No other team is as talented, balanced, or deep (unless, of course, team Lebron trades Wally for a few all stars…).

Your thoughts?

–Reed

Reed

Posts

46 responses to Year in Review (so far…)

  1. It will be interesting to compare the second half stats to the first half stats. I don’t think they have peaked yet, so I could see them improving by 2-3 points in the point differential area by the end of the season, which will put them in first for that category (assuming the other teams stay approx the same.)

    When was the last time three teams were doing this well, so close to each other, this late in the season?

  2. Thanks Reed for the great stats and overview. I think what this really tells us is the Lakers have the opportunity use different comboc depending upon the match ups or game situation.

    One line up I would like to see now that Farmar is hurt would be to use Ariza at point on defense agianst some teams who just kill us at point (all teams with Paul, Parker, Williams, etc). Use LO for short stints at 3 if the other team doens’t have a scorer at both 2 & 3. Kobe guards the single scorer while LO gets the relative stiff. Think about it, LO can’t guard top 3’s in this league, but Kobe can and how many teams have stud PG plus offensive firepower from both 2 & 3? Take SA for example, LO gets Bowen, or on NO he gets whatever stiff they send out at 2.

    I still prefer LO in the 4/5 rotation with Pau and Bynum most of the time, but this is a chance to use his versatility on occasion. And when we switch to offense LO plays the point.

  3. I disagree with your conclusion. 99/00 team was a transitional one. It was the first season of Jax, the first season of triangles. In five seasons before 99/00 Lakers have lost in semis, 1st rd, semis, conf finale, semis. Not even once have they advanced to NBA finals.

    This team is different. The offense system is well trained. All essential players have played in triangle offense at least a part of previous season. The last season they have played in the finals – even while learning how to play with Gasol and after losing Bynum. They were _there_ before. They have proven they could murder other playoffs teams.

    So I see no analogues here. This time, unlike last season, Lakers are clear favourites (barring injuries).

  4. Great writeup. I hadn’t seen the record vs. playoff teams before. It really makes Cleveland look less awesome.

    BTW, does playoff team refer to a team that made the playoffs last year or a team projected to make the playoffs this year?

  5. Hey man. Long time reader of the LA Times Lakers Blog and just started reading your blog and I have to say: great job on this composition!

    I’m looking forward to Phil using the Bynum / Gasol starting combo to also finish games more often like he did against Boston.

    Let’s hope the Lakers remember how the Jazz fans booed Fisher in his return to Utah last year and not get complacent when they visit on Friday, injuries be damned.

  6. excellent post.

    just wondering how much longer we can enjoy this depth.

    going to be a fun year.

  7. Reed – incredible job.

    I was young during the threepeat, so I’d forgotten that we brought those 4 off the bench in 2000. How great would Fox fit in at SF against the Celtics? You don’t need lateral quickness to guard Pierce, you need strength, tenacity, and a mastery of defensive nuances, which Fox all had. Sometimes I get nostalgic for those veterans.

    Great post, nothing really to add here. The only thing to be careful of when extrapolating is that some teams just click and peak at different times (see: 01 Lakers). I feel our team (and even Boston) can reach another level, but I feel like Cleveland has reached its potential with the current personnel. That said, Lebron can win an entire series (or 3) by himself, so even if they have struggled against contenders, they’ll be a very real threat come playoff time. For us, it’ll all come down to clicking in the triangle and strong side trap at the right time.

    Happy New Year’s, be safe everyone.

  8. i think the reason bynum is subbed out at the end of games is because generally, teams go to lineups with more shooters on the floor, in which case, we need someone who can get out on those shooters, which lamar can better fulfill.

  9. By jove, I love hitting refresh on my browser and seeing that the new post up is authored by Reed.

    I always enjoy breaking down the numbers … I really am a stat geek at heart … but it’s especially gratifying to see the data bear out what you also witness happening on the court: this *feels* like a dominant team to me, and it’s nice knowing that I’m not just wearing Forum-Blue-and-Gold-tinted glasses.

    I hadn’t realized that we’d shored up last year’s rebounding deficiency to such a remarkable degree; that – along with Ariza’s palatable energy on defense actually translating to measurable results – were my favorite tidbits. Bravo.

  10. Nice job. I would just clarify, though, that the strong-looking rebound-rate this year is buoyed by the solid offensive rebounding of the team. The defensive rebound rate is pretty average (the Lakers are at 73.4% and the league average is 73.1%) and a ways behind most of the other top defensive teams. Overall their defensive efficiency is still great, but it would be nice to see them give up fewer offensive boards . . ..

  11. I get the feeling Phil doesn’t want to show the league the Lakers with the pedal to the metal.I think he is just being careful with Drew.Phil is deep.

  12. Great work Reed, both for the charts and the historical data (1999-2000 Lakers) about which team you think this one reminds you of. The charts seem to back up the way I feel about the strengths and weaknesses of this team and where we currently stand in the League. The PG position being the worst on this team at the moment. I am not sure why, I mean, Fisher never struck me as a bad PG or at the bottom of the league here. Maybe now that Farmar is out we will see more of ‘The Machine’ and how he can maybe improve in this area, he can shoot as good as any player. There is not a shot he doesn’t like.

  13. Kudos to Reed for all the work.
    2 things I’d like to point out.
    1)Despite bad PER for PGs,note Fish is second on +/-. Suggests,either he is contributing more on offense end than he is giving up on D. Or that the team D is structured that what it will give up is PG scoring. Or,numbers lie :)
    2)The most effecient offensive unit has Ariza and Odom on it,neither of whom could be considered reliable long-distance shooters. Strongly suggests that Ariza’s lack of outside shot really doesn’t matter if the Triangle is run properly-that slashing ability-and offensive rebounding-is just as effective as spreading the floor w/shooters.

  14. Oops,third point.
    Strongets offensive unit is second strongest defensive unit.

  15. #2: Think about it, LO can’t guard top 3’s in this league, but Kobe can and how many teams have stud PG plus offensive firepower from both 2 & 3?

    Denver, once they sub in Smith, fits that bill. I’m not necessarily worried about it come playoff time, but Billups/Smith/Melo/Martin/Nene is a fairly formidable defensive matchup.

    The frontcourt is an obvious Lakers advantage, but Fisher will get devoured by either Billups or Smith (Kobe likely pulls the PG defensive assignment, with Fish on Smith), and Ariza or Odom are good matchups with Melo. But Luke and Vlad are basically stapled to the bench when Melo’s got it going. Sasha really irritates Melo, so when Fish sits, you’d have something like:

    Billups/Kobe
    Smith/Ariza
    Melo/Sasha
    Martin/Gasol
    Nene/Bynum

    I can see why PJ likes big guards–you can switch 1-2-3 on defensive rotations without glaring mismatches like Fish covering Melo.

    I realize I’m focusing on Denver matchups in December and ignoring the meat of the (great) post above, but I think they’re going to make some noise in the playoffs, so it’s never too early to start thinking about it.

  16. Happy New Years, everyone- just got my birthday present today- A ticket to the Blazers game on Sunday- 2nd row behind the Laker Bench :) Let’s hope 2009 brings all us Laker fans a championship!

  17. 16 – Congrats, I’m jealous. As a Midwest Lakers fan, I have yet to attend a Lakers game in my lifetime (although I did get to see MJ in person, which was fun).

    Great article by KD on Chris Paul over at Ball Don’t Lie. If you’re short on time, scroll to the stats at the end. I’ve often said that I believe CP3 has a shot as going down as the best PG of all time, if he continues at his pace, and I’ve been laughed at. But this article makes me believe it even more. Deron Williams is a stellar player, but the things that Paul does, the way (last year) he absolutely controlled the game, was awe-inspiring. I think when it’s all said and done he’ll be in the conversation for GOAT (among PGs), although of course it’s far too early into his career to tell now.

  18. Because of Ariza’s role I don’t think he will struggle in the playoffs. Concentrating on his defense will bring him through. Farmar has been through it once, so that only leaves Bynum. If Phil can convince Bynum to concentrate on defense – against all the fans desires and advice – he will also have an easier adjustment in the post season.

  19. PeanutButterSpread December 31, 2008 at 11:34 pm

    I could see Ariza struggling on offense during the playoffs, but hopefully that’ll be okay because we won’t need him to generate offense. As long as he carries his defense and crazy hustle/effort he’s had so far into the playoffs, he’ll be able to get the chippies (like that amazing putback dunk against the Warriors after a Sasha miss). I love seeing a TA block or a TA hustle play or a TA dunk.

  20. Very good analysis!

    I think the Lakers are now much better the current Celtics team. Boston struggles against the top offensive team. They have been beaten by #1 Lakers, #2 Warriors, #5 Denver at home, and #6 Indiana.

    They haven’t played with #4 Phoenix yet and they have yet to play #2 Knicks and #7 Cleveland on the road.

    Please see my blog at:

    http://lalakersnba.blogspot.com/2009/01/celtics-struggle-against-top-offensive.html

  21. Stephen – Your points on Fisher don’t really add up imho. I think what those stats actually show is that Farmar or whoever replaces him is dragging down the pg position, which agrees with what many observe.

  22. Good Job Reed.

    #15 (JB),

    Denver? No shot at beating the Lakers. I don’t care who their PG’s are. They’re still the one of the dumbest, no heart teams in the NBA.

  23. Good analysis. Lakers do have the most talented and deepest team in the league, and if they play to their potential on both ends of the floor, I think we can win the championship as well. But this team still needs to improve, we are not quite a championship team yet. The offense is great, but the defense is only decent, they got to develop into a more efficent defensive team to win the championship.

  24. Another excellent write up from Reed. Fantastic stuff. And I agree with the ’99-2000 team comparison. Even though this team does have more experience in the offense and did advance to the Finals (as Trad mentioned), we are just at the beginning of our run and getting to that place mentally where everything makes sense to our key players and they know what it takes to achieve at the highest level. In the same way that those ’96-’99 teams struggled to win the title and advance in the playoffs, this team has had three straight years of playoff disappointments that culminated with last years Finals loss. I think at this point in the team’s development the ingredients are all there for us to make that push and combine the physical talent with the mental toughness needed to achieve the highest goal.

    As for Denver, I think JB gives them a little too much credit and Wondabap doesn’t give them enough. Denver is a very good team. Billups has made them a real contender. However, they are not a very deep team and players that should be playing better for them (Kleiza, for one) are not. Also, I wanted to point this out to JB: Melo has consistently had problems with RadMan. I remember watching the playoff series last year and just waiting for Melo to destroy Vlad and it never happened. We’ve played them twice this year, and it still hasn’t happened. In fact, in almost every game, Melo has underperformed. So, while I agree with the premise that when Melo has it going it’d be tough for any defender to stop him, I also think that he has a hard time getting it going against RadMan.

  25. Reed,

    If you’re going to include San Antonio, Houston and New Orleans as contenders then you really should include Orlando.

  26. Laker’s Analyst,

    The only way you can call the Warriors the 2nd best offensive team in the league is by points per game, but points per game isn’t a good measure of offense because it includes pace. What you want is offensive efficiency (points per 100 possessions) which factors out pace. By offensive efficiency the Warriors are ranked 17th.
    When you’re analyzing any individual win or loss you need to remember that there are four things which contribute to which team wins.
    1. The quality of the first team
    2. The quality of the other team
    3. The circumstances of the game (e.g. Home/Away, back-to-back, crossing time zones )
    4. Variance or Luck
    People tend to overlook the last two factors, but it plays a real part in who wins and looses.

  27. I disagree cuz i dont think orlando can beat cleveland or boston in a 7 game series.

    reed, excellent post!

    hmm i dont see walton in any of these lineups

  28. I disagree with Reed regarding us struggling against weaker foes come playoff time.

    We’ve become better than last year. Or will be by the end of the year, and outside of Portland, the other “contenders” in the West do not match up well with us. SA, NOH, Utah, PHX, Dallas aren’t any better than they were last year, and definitely do not match up any better. Denver has improved, yes, but our bigs and Kobe are still a nightmare for them. Chauncey Billups isn’t transcendent enough to take that the Nuggets to that elite level. Only Houston “could” has positioned themselves to match up better, but there are too many question marks with them right now.

    I think the Lakers walk through the Western playoffs again. But this time (as mentioned already), they have the pain from the Finals to give them the edge they need.

  29. ***Only Houston “could.” They have positioned themselves to match up better, but there are too many question marks with them right now.

  30. JR,
    Re your #21.
    I didn’t say Fish-or Farmar was especially good defensively. I noted that whatever his defensive shortcomings are,his high +/- indicates he’s contributing something in a positive manner. If he and Farmar were dragging down the other player’s,Fish would not have a substantially higher +/- than the other Lakers. Not to mention units w/Farmar and Fish are putting up strong D numbers.

    Second,I alluded to the team defensive scheme. The Lakers Strong Side Zone is what it’s name says. A zone designed to stop another team’s strong side offense. But sets run from the middle,ie the top of key-where most PGs like to start-automatically set the Laker D scrambling. By definition,playing a zone means the PGs are not starting out matched up man-to-man against the other team’s PGs. The Laker PGs are always going to be in a bad initial position to the other team’s PGs. But I believe Kurt was/is willing to accept giving up points to opposing PGs as opposed to letting post and wing players go off.(After all,most teams get their scoring from either post or wing players.) He was/is probably planning on Laker length and proper rotations to choke off PG penetration and passing.
    Look at the PER numbers. The opposing team’s bigs are at,or just under ave PER,the wings are under by a decent margin and the PGs are way over the 15 ave PER. So the Laker D should be slightly below average,right? Instead,it’s ranked in top 5. Which suggests that while opposing PGs are getting more off the Lakers than they normally do,their increased numbers are not helping their team overall. So,just possibly,my pet belief about PGs-that if they’re shooting,the rest of the team isn’t-is being shown valid,or that the Lakers SSZ is structured that what it will give up is middle penetration.
    Or it could just be Fish and Farmar are bad defenders and that’s all there is.(Interesting to see what a larger sample of Sasha at the point will show.)

    Note:Kurt being Rambis. I rather doubt Kurt of the Forum could get Phil to change his defense. This yr anyway.

  31. Chris Paul has a shot at being the second best point guard ever. He has NO chance to be better than Magic Johnson.

  32. Wondahbap,
    SA would have Ginobili this yr-a huge difference. And Mason has been playing extremely well for them. The rookie PG Hill has also strengthened the,as he can shoot-something previous backup PGs couldn’t do. On the other hand,they aren’t getting much out of the rest of their bigs and they are getting old.
    I really think NO is going to make a trade for some wing help. For that matter I believe this Jan?Feb we’re going to see alot of solid role players being moved-not the stars like last yr,but the next two rungs down. Too many teams have players they want to move,and too many teams think 1 guy could give them a decent outside shot.

    CL,
    If the refs weren’t in the tank for LeBron,I’d argue that Orlando could beat the Cavs in a 7 game series. Orlando loses when they can’t hit their 3s,or they get overwhelmed inside(how Detroit beats them). The Cavs don’t have the interior presence to beat the Magic.

  33. Re: Boston troubles

    Celtics have problems with fast teams. Warriors – 100.6 poss/G (2nd in NBA)
    Pacers – 97.8 (3)
    Lakers – 97.7 (4)
    Nuggets – 96.6 (6)

    Their only loss with slow team was Blazers game (Blazers are actually dead last, 88.8), but I’d blame it on 4th in a row away game and Portland’s infamous 6-men offensive set.

    Of course Celtics have murdered Sacramento, which is quite fast team (95.6, 8th), so maybe it’s sample size’s artefact.

  34. TRad

    The Celtics having trouble against fast paced teams is an interesting idea.

    Their bench is unproductive and their big three are all over 30 so fast paced teams could just wear their starters out. Boston is the most turnover prone team in the league. In fact turnovers are the only of the four factors where they are below average. A faster paced game could also make them even more turnover prone. The turnovers were a big factor in Boston’s loss to the Lakers.

    Keep in mind that 3 of these five losses came on this western road trip that goes across three time zones. The long travel and hostile crowd will have a negative impact on any team.

  35. Great post Reed, you are that rare man who can both crunch numbers and write prose. Maybe we got a taste of how we’ll do come playoff time on 25 December 2008. Anyone else still slightly high from that game? It’s only one game, we had home court, etc., but Boston had all the psychological advantage, all the momentum; and in the final minutes, when for a moment we looked rickety as hell, and Boston contrariwise looked ascendent, instead of collapsing and leaving Kobe isolate like last year we rallied and hit Boston in the mouth. Hit them so hard in the mouth, the next day everyone was asking, does KG have false teeth? It was the smack heard round the league, if Boston’s subsequent losses to Golden State and Portland are indicative. I think they are; I think that everyone was overawed by Boston, a lot of people in spite of themselves, and that a win in L.A. on Christmas day would’ve sealed it. It was a huge game, catalytic. Doc knew it; he’s been the good old shivery, pouty, Doc-in-the-headlights Doc ever since. The reaction of the Boston media was to write breezily that losing was exactly what Boston needed, and then sob themselves to sleep that night in their shamrock print pillows. They saw it. Gasol got knocked down, and should have stayed down, like he did last time these teams met, but instead he got mad, got up, got even. And just when Boston began to assume a collective nobility-in-defeat expression Ariza waggled his finger in their collective face, which turned instantly hangdog. Knock on wood, of course, and deference to pride cometh before the fall etc. But I awoke on the 26th, not to uneasiness about meeting Boston again in the finals, but uneasiness that we’d meet someone else, and that justice would be robbed. Anyone else undergo that shift? Anyone else see writing in fiery letters on the wall?

  36. Stephen,
    Sheed averaged 13.2 points and 5.4 rebounds during that series and McDyess averaged 8.2 points and 8.4 rebounds. Those stats combined are Dwight’s season average. Why do you think Detroit wins by interior presence?

  37. -We are a fast paced team and we lost to the Celtics in the finals.
    -Im not gonna lie to myself and say the big three are too old and get worn out against fast paced teams. Those three are in great shape. Pierce even went and lost 10 pounds in the off season.

  38. super job. nothing short of a WORLD champinship. will do for us true laker fans. we don’t hang those confrance banners from are rapters. only world championships banners from are rafters will do. and oh yes we will win yet another one. peace to all .

  39. John Hollinger makes a surprisingly good case against the Spurs making the playoffs this year:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/columns/story?columnist=hollinger_john&page=Perdiem-081231

    I still can’t quite bring myself to believe that the Spurs won’t be there, but there’s 9 playoff caliber teams in the West and only 8 spots…

  40. The PER differential at the PG MAY be misleading, not sure. It’d be nice to see what teams have been averaging against us in terms of assists per 100 possessions (compared to their season avg). the SSZ offense is designed to take away a lot of good passing lanes, which would put the PG in a position to try to score the ball himself.

    Does anyone have data to prove/refute this hypothesis?

  41. CL,
    Don’t forget Maxiell.
    The Magic are playing Rashard Lewis at the 4,so Dwight is often alone under the boards. As you know,when Brian Cook is one of your rotation bigs,you’re gonna have problems inside.

  42. 40 – I can’t believe that they won’t make the playoffs. They are simply too good not to do so. Pop won’t allow them to fall like that. They always pick up with a late season run in any case, so they should be fine.

    Oh, and I think this is required reading:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=3804977

    And really, I thought the biggest obstacle to Marbury joining Boston was Garnett, who is apparently fine with it. Even if he does though, it’s not a game-changer. He’s a shoot-first, bad defense player, and after practically a year of not playing, he shouldn’t be even near his original All-Star talent level (he hasn’t even really been close for the last couple years anyways). What the Celtics really need on their bench is another big, hence the attempts to get Brown out of retirement or sign Mutombo.

  43. How would Sasha at the PG position change the numbers? His name didn’t show up anywhere. Also, interesting that Luke isn’t there either but he’s the starter (for now) and ironic there’s the new post in favor of keeping him as such. Great post Reed thanks for the numbers and analysis. Oh, and LO getting some revindication from the stats.

  44. Just wanted to note that “our best lineups” also include Lamar Odom, just as much as Ariza according to your own analysis, and even more so if you look at the team 5-man +/- results.

  45. I agree that our team has not peaked yet. There are times that our bench does not live up to our expectations and in face plays sub par. But we are deep and we are still working on a complex system. I expect the Lakers to settle down, finally find some lethal and consistent combinations we can claim our own identity. I see our defense improving and our team blowing off more teams. The playing down to other less successful teams should also stop and farmar getting back will do wonders. Maybe another pickup over free agency will occur but i trust in phil’s trust in our team. Barring injuries of length to our lead guys, this team can do wonders. Of course Boston thinks the same with Rondo’s emergence and Cleveland with their team play but potential and ceiling is one thing we have higher than them and the West. If we could reach higher and match it with intensity, we can coast to the trophy. If we lag at times, expect more heartbreakers and excesses. GO LAKSRS!

  46. From the article linked in 42, “Marbury easily ranks as the most accomplished low-cost veteran that the Celtics can add to their bench in-season. Boston also knows it has the option to simply release Marbury without significant salary-cap consequences if he fails to click as a backup or proves unwilling to accept a secondary role.”

    This is all true. Marbury is an accomplished low-cost veteran like Telly Savalas in The Dirty Dozen, whose only drawback is that he’s insane and has a tendency to fire his gun randomly in the air right at the moment when the slightest noise will compromise the mission. The slightest distraction may jeopardize everything, but what the heck, Telly doesn’t cost much and he’s been in a lot of wars.

    It’s a relief to know that the Celtics won’t suffer significant salary-cap consequences if Marbury wreaks havoc on team chemistry and morale for a month or so. They can just release him!

    Easy as Easy Cheese.

    Ainge should be a drug counsellor. Meth is a proven, inexpensive stimulant, and with a little maneuvering you can inject it right into your finely-tuned system, and the initial burst of energy is incredible. But watch out for diminishing returns. And in the fair to middling case that your finely-tuned system shows signs of disruption in the days ahead, why, just quit! After detox, you’ll bounce right back, as good as new, kind of.

    Please Ainge & Co. don’t destroy this team, L.A. called first dibs way before you did.