Fast Break Thoughts

Kurt —  January 5, 2009
Luke Walton #4

The other day the comments became a debate of the worst announcers in the NBA for those of us watching stuff on League Pass. (Congratulations Portland, you win!) But as was pointed out then, if that is all we have to worry about, things are pretty dang good.

I like the Lakers having the best record in the NBA better than I liked them being third. But, just as when the Lakers were third, being first in January and $4 will get you a latte. Play it one game at a time (this is a tough month on the schedule for the Lakers) and we’ll talk in March.

•Luke Walton is out with sesamoiditis, which you can read more about here. Basically, it’s tendonitis of the big toe area, and it hurts like a… well, this is a family blog. But you know the words, probably in several languages.

The cure for this is rest, and special shoe inserts. Walton will be wearing a boot for the next two weeks, followed by a re-evaluation. So, we wait at least that long. And, as this is January, no need to rush him back. This is the advantage of a deep team.

• Trevor “The Cobra” Ariza got the start in Walton’s place, over Ariza’s objections. (When was the last time a guy complained about starting? Even Marbury doesn’t try to talk the coach out of that.) He likes his role coming off the bench and closing out games, and with good reason as it has been so successful.

First things first — I don’t care who starts. Walton, RadMan, Ariza, Odom, Vic The Brick. Well, I’d care about the last one. But the point is that who finishes is who matters, not who starts. And Ariza finishes, something that is not going to change.

Ariza as a starter may or may not work out, but frankly nobody (not Phil let alone us fans) knows yet. Bad first quarter for that group, great third quarter. This is the time of the season to experiment, try out everyone but Vic as a starter. The rotation does not need to be set in stone yet by any means.

• LeBron James traveled. Well, in my world, but what I can get away with at the YMCA and guys can in the NBA are radically different. And I couldn’t pull off the “crab walk” anyway; I’d look more like the melted butter in the ramekin next to the crab legs. That said, whatever the rule is all the officials need to be consistent on it — I say if LeBron makes that same move 10 more times he gets away with it. I personally don’t really care one way or the other, just be consistent with the call.

• Pau Gasol really has adapted to playing with Andrew Bynum, and he has become insanely efficent. He has learned to use the space the big body on the block creates, and is finding holes in the offense to get his shots. And, with his offensive arsenal, when he can pick his shots he makes them.

Bynum is still spotty, but improving, particularly on the defensive end. Where he is needed the most. Last night during the Lakers third quarter run to take charge of the game, Bynum owned the glass. He made key plays, even smart fouls (stopping a possible momentum-changing dunk by Bantum) and basically filling his role beautifully.

I think what some people perceive as his problems was a case of him wanting to do a lot and pushing things when he got his big contract, rather than letting the game coming to him. But that has started to change. He is active on defense, he is moving his feet well and getting points in the rhythm of the offense. That is exactly how he earns his contract.

• In the last 10 games, Kobe is shooting 41.7% from three.

• For all my concerns about Derek Fisher and the PUJIT, he’s hitting a lot of them lately.

• I just started reading the latest from Sarah Vowel, The Wordy Shipmates, about the Pilgrims (it was a Christmas gift). I’ll send along a report in a couple weeks.

Kurt

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70 responses to Fast Break Thoughts

  1. Vic the brick? At least he draws iron.

    We will see if Ariza starting works out. I like his energy of the bench, but if he starts and with walton out that puts another shooter on the second unit. Did he really complain about starting?

  2. ESPN power rankings are out. Clippers will be at the bottom in a matter of time when OKC starts to win those close games. Then we’ll have LA teams as book-ends.

    I should feel sorry for Baron Davis…but I don’t because he’s making a ton of money. It’s the same excuse for why I didn’t feel sorry for all the boos Kwame Brown got a year ago.

    edited for trade speculation

  3. I think Ariza, like most all of us, is a creature of habit. He has found a real comfort level and more regular minutes than he has had his entire career. He gets to read the game and then come in, change the game, and get full credit for his exploits. This may not be true when starting with Kobe and Gasol. Playing off the bench also ensures he gets to play major minutes in the 4th qtr and probably finish.

  4. Lakers forward Luke Walton was examined on Monday by Dr. Ken Jung, a foot specialist with the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Group. Dr. Jung confirmed that Walton is suffering from sesamoiditis (right foot).

    Walton will wear a protective boot on his foot for a week and will also begin non-weight bearing rehabilitation exercises in a pool starting today. He is expected to be out a minimum of two weeks.

    via lakers.com

    I guess we will be seeing similar rotations to last night which I don’t mind as long as Vlade starts showing up again. Even if he’s a bit inconsistent it would be nice to see him play like he did to start the year on the defensive end.

  5. On Sunday’s pregame interview on FSN West Phil Jackson said that Ariza had mentioned a desire not to start in Luke’s absence because he was comfortable in his prior role off of the bench. I presume that’s what Kurt had referenced in his post.

    Hopefully it was a one quarter glitch given a new lineup, but the turnover-per-minute first quarter had me recalling the post from a few days back where people questioned Luke’s value as a starter. I’m in the camp that believes he helps the team play better by knowing his role, and I think that poor start was evidence of his absence.

    Still, the anti-Luke camp can fire back by stating, “So what? It took a whole quarter for the others to get back in synch with Ariza there from the tip off.” Point taken.

    Either way, depth is a wonderful resource to have. No one will argue that.

  6. From Kelly Dwyer today:

    “As much as I was left breathless by Mike D’Antoni’s SSOL Suns, and entertained by some of Don Nelson’s wilier outfits, Los Angeles might be the most entertaining offensive team I’ve seen since the 90′s Bulls, and the 80′s Lakers/Celtics outfits.

    “The half-court sets that this Laker team executes, it’s so good to watch, such a sight to behold with all that spacing and finishing … I love this team. Yes, it’s fun to watch the greyhounds from Phoenix or Golden State pull up on break and nail the three-pointer, but it’s a three-pointer. Yawn. Give me four passes and a lay-in or free throw line jumper any damn day.

    “And I really shouldn’t even be talking about this, because it was the Laker defense that really won this one. Los Angeles allowed just 86 points to a team that is just a couple tenths of a point away from behind the league’s most efficient offense, after forcing Portland to just 76 points on opening night. Portland missing nine of 22 free throws didn’t help, but they also shot just 39 percent, and 32 percent from long range.

    “26 points in 32 minutes from Kobe Bryant in the win. He is awfully good. ”

    The Lakers PG issues haven’t been much of an issue the last few games. We’ll see if Paul can hang 40-20 on us. I still don’t see much point in a trade for a guy we’ll play 10 minutes a game for 2 months. The team kept open roster space for this kind of situation. I’m sure they could find a Free Agent or D-Leaguer who fits the bill if they are really concerned, and they wouldn’t have to give anythign up or take on new contracts. That’s how Ramon Sessions was discovered last year, right? Several other serviceable PGs also (half of them on the Warriors). I agree with everyone else that Sasha should be the first answer, but otherwise, there’s no need to panic.

  7. I like Ariza’s attitude. I think he feels a strong bond to the second unit and prefers his role as a backup. Nothing wrong there. It just means we need to get him accustomed to be a starter by next year.

    As far as Andrew, I think the kid is letting things get in his head. From what I have read, it sounds like he really expected to be a 20+ point and rebound gound and a potential all-star. Problem is that this team needs him to be a 10+ rebound and block guy, but we also need him to be a strong finisher when he gets the ball. Also, realistically, Drew will need a couple of seasons to grow into that 20+ All-Star guy he views himself as – and thats if he ever becomes that type of player on this team. Its simply too early to tell how things will turn out for him.

    In short, I think the kid thought a bit too highly of himself and is now having to deal with the fact that this team right now needs him to be a role-player rather than an all-star.

    Finally, as I sated in the previous blog, I am very concerned about these high minutes for Fish and how that will affect his legs for any type of playoff run. I hope Sasha keeps improving so that the can take some minutes off Fish.

  8. Fisher is actually a very good jump shooter. His eFG% from jumpers is second best among Lakers – a couple points behind Radmanovic. .556 is ungodly. Only a few Lakers (Bryant and Ariza) are as good in “close” tries (dunks are another category). I wouldn’t guess that without checking the stats.

    As for travelling – here, in Europe, three steps are travelling, even if the second one is hiiiigh and looong. But it’s you, Americans, who invented this game, it’s your call.

    Ariza – I don’t care if he’s starting or if he’s finishing as long as he’s playing 25-30 mpg. I don’t believe two points in any chosen moment is more important than in any random moment. Losing by with two seconds to go? Well, if not for some missed shots before it could be winning by fifteen with two seconds to go. Two points are two points are two points.

    I’m glad that Lakers could overcome the first quarter with 9 turnovers (I don’t remember Lakers playing so sloppy) and put away the game. And Blazers aren’t a pushovers. It’s a very good team, I’d bet that they will play in playoffs. A good win, showing how potent is this Lakers team.

  9. From Adande on espn:

    “And the Lakers haven’t exactly dominated with their huge front line of Gasol and Andrew Bynum. Bynum’s scoring, rebounding and shooting numbers are down from where they were before he was injured last season, and there’s consternation in the crowd whenever Bynum misses a shot.”

    A- hasn’t the front line come close to dominating? Weren’t those numbers posted here a week ago? As to the rest of the Bynum “issues,” why would we expect him to have the same numbers he put up last year. Another allstar caliber player was put in next to him. I think he’s still finding his role on offense, but I care more about his d and rebounding.

    I was critical after the Utah game because the type of listlessness he was showing was specifically counter-productive in that game. It wasn’t that he wasn’t scoring enough, it was that he was out of the general flow. I took it as a single game. In fact, the depth of this team means the Lakers can allow Drew to have growing pains without costing the team. Even if he’s floundering a bit out there they can afford to let him play through it.

    This is a much better situation than being forced to rely on him to score every game because he’ll learn the fundamentals of how to be a WINNING big man, and not just another 20-10 guy on a losing team.

  10. Since JD started the quoting of things I should likely have had in the post, let me put up this from Henry at TrueHoop. Remember, Stu Lantz complained about this all night last night”

    Several times I have heard TV commentators mystified at a weak player getting double-teamed. The Lakers, for instance, doubled Greg Oden in the post last night, even though it would seem that just about the best thing that could possibly happen for L.A. is that Oden crank up that (let’s be polite and call it …) idiosyncratic jump hook. Commentators think that double teams are essentially something that elite players earn. But to me, I totally get it. You double Oden because he’s a turnover machine even against single coverage. If you send a good strong double, your chances of getting the ball are pretty good, especially because, as a rookie who is not used to being the focal point of an offense, he’s surely not used to it. He’s far less likely than, say, Brandon Roy, to make the pass out of the double that leads to an easy bucket.

  11. I should add on doubling, watch UCLA. They double everyone who gets the ball in the post, and do it aggressively. The reason is that at the college level not a lot of players can handle that, but truth is at the pro level not a lot do the right thing either. Some bigs, Shaq for example, are good passers out of the double, but most are not.

  12. Let’s break the rules and go for three in a row (I’ll add this to the post, too):

    At lunch the pizza place near my office had on the replay of the Lakers game, and I was there for the third quarter. Bynum played a key role on the glass — he owned it while the Lakers made their run. He also made smart plays, including the foul on Bantum (who has got serious hops) preventing a momentum-changing type dunk. He fit the role well there.

  13. With the moratorium on 10-day contracts over, I expect the Lakers to add another pg to their roster soon. I believe they’ll add one of their camp invitees or one of the many players being waived at this time. DeMarcus Nelson was just released by GS, and he was known for his defense in college, IIRC.

  14. Mitch has already said that neither Coby Karl or Joe Crawford are coming back.

    Why get some guy who doesn’t know the system for 10 days? How many minutes can this guy really get? He’ll sit at the end of the bench and watch Sasha. I don’t think any 10 days are coming.

  15. Bynum also stretches the defense because of his ability to play over the rim. Every time he rolls to the hoop on a screen and roll, the defensive team needs to make sure there is help on the back side for the roll defender. This opens things up for good ball movement followed by an open shot.

    It seems to me that his injury last year was more severe than we were led to believe (out 8 weeks, etc.). His spring and quickness are still not where they were.

    If he is patient and sticks to the team concept the coaches are developing, he will get more looks as the year goes on.

    My observation of PJ’s coaching strategy is that he experiments with different options in the Triangle and makes careful note of what works, when it works, who it works against, and why it works (or why not). Then, in the playoffs, his teams look very sharp as he brings out the “A” game plan.

    Bynum is an option that still has to be fully incorporated into the offense. He is already an impact player on defense.

  16. Good point, Kurt.

    This is the benefit of having a deep team. Just signing a player, for the sake of having them makes no sense. When the Lakers signed Mbenga, he served some purpose, and was used. Another guard would not.

  17. I’m interested in seeing how we play down two rotation players. I know we have depth and that we should be able to handle this kind of scenario. All the same, though, I’m interested in the results of our upcoming games with Luke out. I know that I lobbied for Luke to remain the starter, but if Radman plays like he did in the 4th quarter last night (great shooting, good ball handling, scrappy rebounding) we’re a fantastic team (and probably have a higher ceiling than if Luke is playing his standard game).

  18. #14–Well, the only reason the Lakers sign a guy to 10-day is to give Fisher a break. Even with Vujacic in the fold, Fisher is avg’ing more than 36mpg since Farmar went down.

    If the Lakers don’t sign a guy, I’d be happy to interpret that as a sign that management has confidence in Fisher’s durability.

  19. The jump stop is completely legal according to NBA rules, but something about it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I think it inevitably leads to abuse, especially in the NBA where the refs are loathe to call travelling violations on stars or at the end of games. The main problem I have is that few players actually execute it correctly: in order to be legal, both feet must land on the floor simulatenously. The intent is to allow a fast moving player to halt forward momentum and jump upwards; in reality, players use it to cover an insane amount of distance towards the basket (Wade and LeBron are notorious for using the jump stop this way). However, it’s exceedingly hard to land both feet simultaneously when one is well in front of the other and then generate power into a forward jump. Try it next time you’re on a basketball court. Your back foot will almost always come down a beat before your leading foot, resulting in a travel. The jump stop was never intended as a way for an exceptional athlete to be able to pick up his dribble at the free throw line and still easily make a lay-up.

    The other traveling violation that really irks me is the spin move followed by two steps. When a player performs a spin move and picks up the dribble, the step out of the spin is your first step. Its impossible for it not to be. Yet, that foot is often ignored and then a player will take two steps. I actually called this in a pick-up game last month because it pisses me off so much. I was defending a player on the right block that spun toward the baseline, then took two steps to put in a reverse lay-up. It allowed him to get away from me and then cover an insane amount of distance in order to be able to score. You’ll see Dwight Howard do a lot of stuff like this and the refs let it go. I slowed down a youtube highlight of him one time so I could learn how he pulled off a certain move. The problem was that when I watched what he did a frame at a time I found that he took FOUR steps in order to create the necessary separation!

  20. Cheikh Samb just got traded from Denver to the Clippers.

  21. Kurt, or anyone else who’d like to chime in…does anyone have a solid reason as to why Vlad has been stuck to the pine?

    I’m not sure I understand why Vlad and his ability to stretch the floor isn’t depended upon a bit more often; although he’s a clear downgrade from Ariza in terms of defense, I don’t exactly see him as a liability relative to Luke…
    People also bash on his inconsistency, but let’s not lie to ourselves, Luke and Ariza (offensively) aren’t the embodiments of consistency either…any thoughts here?

    Apologies if this has already been addressed elsewhere…

  22. Chibi,

    It isn’t giving Fish a break if the guy would never play.

    We have the ability to rotate players and have various line-ups. What it means instead is that Vlad will play more, and Josh Powell, because we can use Ariza and Sasha 2-3 ways..

  23. I think Fisher’s PUJIT is sorta like the nickname bestowed upon Sasha. At first, people kinda used to joke, like everytime Sasha would catch and chuck, you’d yell “Machiiiiiiiiiine”. Then, all of the sudden, you’re yelling Machine at the top of your lungs, captivated at a Slovenian dude hitting 40% plus beyond the arch. With fish it was like , watch him pull up and chuck and you’d angrily type PUJIT! But fast forward some 100+ pull up jumpshots in transition later, and viola-make or miss, you cant argue about the shot selection. you live with it.

  24. David Lee to Portland (to backup Aldridge); Camby to NY (good fit for D’Antoni) and Quentin Richardson to the Clips (WHY???)

    source: http://www.hoopshype.com

  25. The Dude Abides January 5, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    15-re Bynum’s injury. I was one of those who originally believed he would only be out four to eight weeks when he was originally diagnosed with only a kneecap subluxation. That injury used to happen to me, and was the last straw in getting me to quit trying to make it on the pro tennis tour (well, that and my insistence on losing close matches). Anyway, each time my kneecap came out, it took me four weeks to get back to full strength on the court.

    Unfortunately for Andrew, we later learned that he had suffered a bone bruise under the kneecap, which is a bad place to suffer a bone bruise because of the difficulty of getting healing blood to the area after the swelling goes down. It also turned out that the kneecap subluxation was so violent that not only did it cause a bone bruise, but it also created sharp bony areas around the edge of the kneecap that had to be smoothed or removed via surgery after he couldn’t get all the way back through rehab.

    He’s definitely not physically back to where he was before the injury, and that’s also affecting his mental game. I think that he’ll be back to full strength by playoff time, just soon enough for us to totally dominate even more than we’re already doing. I’m hoping that he’s still hitting the weights, and concentrating on his legs.

  26. 20- NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO X 9000. How are we supposed to compete in the West now??

    I don’t have any problem with the Lakers doubling whomever in the post. Especially if it only leaves the skip pass as an out, since that’s an easy pass to mess up for a lot of players.

  27. 21 – The space cadet has been on the bench, because as people have said on here often, Phil likes to play with the reg season rotations and see the results of his experiments. Beginning of the year Vlad had his time, then it was Walton’s turn. You say they’re all inconsistent and you’re right. Although, Ariza is by far the most positive and productive of the three. The fact is neither Walton or Vlad has shown any reason why either one deserves more playing time than the other.

    Be happy, now that Walton’s out, Vlad will likely get most of those minutes.

  28. Re: doubling oden
    Thought I mentioned that! Anyway, I think it’s a good gamble to trap/double players who aren’t good at passing out of them.

    As for Ariza starting, well, it’s early in the season (despite the large number of wins, not even halfway there yet) and every lineup should be tried so we can have many options come playoffs.

    Vlad riding the pine… I think it’s in the same mold, maybe has to do with some ‘internal’ matters that isn’t disclosed to the public. Who knows, he may have went snowboarding again…

  29. 24. I saw that one this morning and thought: Why would the Clips do that? D’Antoni has been looking to unload Lee and he’d fit well in Portland, and Camby is a good fit for NY. The Clips guard play has been bad, but Camby has been the one bright spot lately.

  30. Off topic a little: If you have a favorite post here at FB&G, note it in the comments or shoot me an email. Long story, but someone asked me about that lately and while I have a couple, I wanted to see what everybody thought.

  31. You keep calling the kid on Portland “Bantum”, but it’s “Batum”.

  32. As far as the lakers bringing In somebody to fill Jordans shoes stew made a good point last night it would take them too long to learn the triangle so basically It doesnt make sense

  33. “Pau Gasol really has adapted to playing with Andrew Bynum, and he has become insanely efficent. ”

    Couldn’t agree more. That’s the best way to describe Pau’s play this season: efficient. I remember how much was made of his bball IQ when the trade first went down, and he hasn’t disappointed in that respect at all. Props to Kurt and all those who predicted Pau would make a great 4 during the offseason; even brilliant minds like David Thorpe were iffy on that, so excellent call.

    I agree with all those who say the most important lineup is the one that finishes. One question, though – isn’t it possible that starting a weak defender (Luke or Vlade) allows the opposing SF to get in a rhythm early, which makes it harder for Ariza to defend when he enters? Wouldn’t starting a great defender be better in that respect, because you wouldn’t allow the opponent to get anything going?

    17 – I agree, our best potential starting lineup is with Vlade IF he plays at his best. But Luke is more consistent (he’s out there for IQ, not shooting, which doesn’t waver from game to game), so that’s a difficult call right there.

  34. I think we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves saying that Bynum was out of his mind claiming that he could be a 20-10 guy. Given the tools that he has (a couple solid post moves, including a jump hook and fairly nice drop step), and very good range for a guy his size (sans KG), excellent leaping ability, good free-throw form, and upper body strength, Bynum would be a 20-10 guy *if he were not on the Lakers*.

    If he were on any team in the league excluding us, Boston, Orlando, Phoenix, and maybe Houston, is there any way he DOESN’T average 20-10? He already averages 8 rebounds a game with us, so imagine if he didn’t have 7’0 Pau Gasol (averages around 8) and 6’10 Lamar Odom (averages around 6) stealing boards from him. And, we also already have a proven post scorer in Gasol and one of the best offensive players EVER in Kobe. Because of this, Bynum only takes 9 shots a game now, so if he takes 12 (on par with Dwight Howard), plus a couple more free throws per game, he easily makes 20 points a night.

    If Bynum were on a team like Atlanta or Miami, both of which don’t have true centers, he would be an all-star.

    And to talk about Ariza, just because he is the most productive doesn’t mean he’s a good fit for the starting lineup. I think his good production is a result of his role on the 2nd unit being so well-suited to his skill set. Putting him in the starting lineup takes him out of that role, and the same goes for Luke and Vlad. All three of them get worse when their roles get changed from the norm (Luke,Vlad starting; Ariza off the bench).

  35. #21–There’d be no point in signing someone to a 10-day if that were the case.

    Look, I know the Lakers have a roster full of versatile players, but you know what? Fisher is still playing 36 minutes a game.

    I’d prefer Fisher have fresh legs for the most important games of the year. The cost of fresh legs are a couple of 10 day contracts for a player that can grasp the basics of the triangle and play 10 minutes a night.

  36. Hmm, rational and thoughtful.

  37. jxhan,
    Phil has said that he wasn’t happy with the passing of the 1st unit. From that I surmised that Vlade was benched not because he was doing anything wrong, but because Fish and Kobe wouldn’t pass properly in the triangle. Phil had to get someone in there who would pass the ball to maximize his offense.

  38. 34 – Absolutely right about Bynum. This guy is 20-10, period. Having Gasol as the clear no.2 limits Bynum’s total productivity. I don’t see why that’s difficult to understand. His play the last 2 seasons before a) losing confidence and b) getting hurt, wasn’t a fluke.

    Concerning Ariza, it’s a little too soon to say he’s no good in the starting lineup. Actually, I think PJ will need to start him by May.

  39. Trevor Ariza, rather than Radmanovic, started in place of Walton and scored only four points but played game-changing defense against Portland point guard Steve Blake. Ariza added five rebounds and two assists in his first start this season.

    “Whatever it takes,” Ariza said. “We won, so I’m happy. Vlade played well and found his (shooting) rhythm again. Toward the end of the second quarter, I started guarding their point guard and that slowed them down.”

    Radmanovic declined to speak to print and Internet reporters about his game, but he said during a postgame television interview that “the key is getting minutes.”

    Jackson declined to say why he picked Ariza over Radmanovic, who started the season’s first 20 games before yielding to Walton.

    “Just for internal reasons it was probably better,” Jackson said.

    “Internal meaning what?” a reporter asked.

    “None of your business,” Jackson said.

    Radmanovic said sitting out has been difficult.

    “I’ve tried not to bring it up because we have something really great going on here, but for me personally — it is something I’m still trying to understand,” he said.

    RadMan not to happy on the bench it seems.
    source: http://www.dailynews.com/ci_11369589?source=rss

  40. I don’t want to seem like a downer on Bynum, because I’m a guy that believes in his talent and thinks he’s already a really good player with room to grow. But, even if you round up on players that get 9.5 rebs/gm and players that get 19.5 pts/gm, there are SIX players in the NBA that are currently getting 20 and 10. So while I think Bynum is a capable guy, I’m not so sure if he’s a 20/10 guy. This may just be semantics on my part, but people throw around 20/10 like so many players do it, but the fact of the matter is they don’t. Not as an average and not over an entire season. The fact is, it’s actually a pretty difficult task. Even guys like Amare, Dirk, and KG aren’t doing it this season, and while they have in the past, aren’t right now.

    Like I said, I believe in Bynum, but a 20/10 guy is usually THE focus on a team and (usually) a great player. Especially if he’s doing it on a playoff caliber team. So, I don’t want to get down on our young Center, but let’s not just hand him achievements. I’d like to see him do it first. I am happy though that he thinks he’s that good already and that he thinks he can achieve it. I’m just saying it’s harder than some are portraying it to be.

  41. 41) I agree – Bynum is not a 20/10 guy yet, even on another team. He hasn’t done that once yet this season; if he were capable of averaging it, he would do it at least occasionally, especially with the opportunities that are presented when teams have to guard Bryant and Gasol. Eventually he’ll be capable of that. He isn’t yet.

  42. I’m watching the warriors give the Jazz a run for their money and it looked like Stephen Jackson pulled or at least strained his hammy. That team is more than snake bit. I think they’re in the process of being swallowed by the snake.

    Bynum being a 20-10 guy was one of Joel Myers’s annoying go to topics last year. Fortunately he’s dropped that this season.

  43. All right here’s some stats:

    11/18 vs Chi:
    Bynum – 18-10, 10 FGA
    Kobe – 21-5, 19 FGA
    Gasol – 34-6, 21 FGA

    11/23 vs Sac:
    Bynum – 15-10, 8 FGA
    Kobe – 24-4, 20 FGA
    Gasol – 16-7, 14 FGA

    11/28 vs Dal:
    Bynum – 18-10, 12 FGA
    Kobe – 36-6, 26 FGA
    Gasol – 14-7, 12 FGA

    11/30 vs Tor:
    Bynum – 18-10, 13 FGA
    Kobe – 23-5, 14 FGA
    Gasol – 24-9, 17 FGA

    12/2 @ Ind:
    Bynum – 17-9, 9 FGA
    Kobe – 28-7, 21 FGA
    Gasol – 20-9, 12 FGA

    12/5 @ Was:
    Bynum – 19-10, 11 FGA
    Kobe – 23-7, 17 FGA
    Gasol – 17-10, 11 FGA

    12/10 vs Pho:
    Bynum – 17-11, 11 FGA
    Kobe – 18-7, 16 FGA
    Gasol – 28-5, 14 FGA

    Here are seven games in which Bynum had at least 9 rebounds and within 3 points of 20 (the exception being 11/23 vs Sac, in which Kobe and Gasol took a combined 34 FGA’s to Bynum’s 8). In each of these games, I think it is obvious from the stats that Kobe and Gasol take the lion’s share of our shots, and if Bynum were more of a centerpiece of the team, he would get at least a handful of those shots.

    Yes, it is a stretch to see Bynum as a 20-10 guy from the current statistics. But I don’t think it’s too difficult to see him as a 17-8 guy (Shaq’s averages, and he’s getting all-star speculation). I also don’t buy that teams having to guard Bryant and Gasol make scoring easier for Bynum. There are so many possessions where Bynum has position in the post (mediocre position, but position nonetheless), and then instead of dumping it in to him, we swing it around to Gasol or Kobe. Teams don’t “have” to guard Kobe or Gasol, we force them to by feeding those two the ball.

    You may not buy that Bynum is a potential 20-10 guy, but I believe everyone can agree that if he were not on the Lakers, he would be getting a lot more media attention for being a star player on a mediocre team (ala Al Jefferson, Antawn Jamison, Andris Biedrins, Al Harrington, Danny Granger, the list goes on, maybe Chris Bosh if you count the Raptors as mediocre) and perhaps averaging something along the lines of 17-11.

  44. Not sure if someone shared this already, but we’ve been harping on Bynum’s lethargy lately, and it appears as though he’s finally realized something’s up:

    “”I don’t think I’m taking advantage of the opportunities I’m getting,” Bynum said before the Lakers played against the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday night at Staples Center. “I just need to go out there and put more energy to it. When I watched last year’s tapes and this year’s tapes, there’s a difference you can see pretty clearly.’”"

    Also, I’m not familiar with that particular Vowell book, but I’ve read a couple Vowell books and been to a reading/Q&A when she came to my college, and I have to say she’s quite interesting. Her writing style is very much hit-or-miss, but you can’t truly judge her until you hear her talk, she’s quite unique.

  45. Most of you guys have probably seen this already regarding Lebron’s “crab dribble”, but I’ll put it here anyway:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news;_ylt=Avt98eJpKQHJsN3yCi640gG8vLYF?slug=ap-lebronscrabdribble&prov=ap&type=lgns

    I had to admit, I found this pretty funny as well.

  46. 47 – lol I saw that, that made me laugh too. Love to see one of my favorites in Caron taking a light shot at the supposed King.

  47. *should have been 46, sorry

  48. I have an opinion regarding the LeBron discussion but, no matter. I was wondering if anyone else has been awed by another one of LeBron’s moves. Dribbling at the 3PT line he takes a long, right-handed dribble that covers most of the ground between the 3PT and FT lines while the left foot has remained planted. He then pulls back to his original spot. The lung and dribble are so quick and hard that the defender cannot help but move and having gathered himself (remember this is all on one dribble) LeBron crosses over and cuts left on a line to the basket for some sort of magical act at or around the rim. His combination of power, speed and grace is unmatched, my friends and I would love to know if there is a name for that dribble.

  49. Zephid,
    I’m not saying Bynum doesn’t have the *potential*, and actually I believe quite the opposite. And as I said before, I’m very high on Bynum.

    But, to say that you “don’t buy that teams having to guard Bryant and Gasol make scoring easier for Bynum.”, I think, is not looking at the game in the proper light. Every player who plays with other very good or great players benefit from the presence of those guys. Bynum, while getting some of his baskets off post isolations, also gets a ton of looks off P&R’s with Kobe and offensive rebounds when Kobe and Gasol are attacking the defense. Many times he’s able to gain position on the weakside primarily because of the defense shifting and rotating to Kobe and/or Gasol. So, while I could easily see Bynum being a featured player on a different team and excelling in that role, I’m still saying it’s quite difficult to average 20/10 for a season.

    All that said, I’m extremely happy that Bynum is on the Lakers and think he’s a building block to a championship contender. I think his presence on our team is a real difference maker on defense and on the glass, and that his ability to play above the rim and finish as a cutter and off dives in P&R situations adds a dimension to our team that we have not had since Shaq (and is only partially provided by Gasol). Like I said before, I see great potential in Andrew, but if you want an honest analysis, he still needs to improve on his balance and footwork when making the quick power move to the basket and he still needs to make quicker decisions with the ball (by either attacking and making his offensive move faster or being more decisive with what he wants to do with the ball in passing situations on the low block). But, he’s still so young and has so much more growing to do and he has a good work ethic. So I have no doubts he’ll develop into an elite level Center, I just don’t think he’s there yet, even if you put him on another team. Even a bad one where all they do is Iso him all game. (I say that just because with all that attention comes pressure and double teams and complex schemes that are set out and developed to stop you. That’s a different world than he’s playing in now, for sure.)

  50. Sorry for double posting but… Re: A Lee trade to the Blazers. Does it make sense to have David Lee backing up Aldridge? Lee is a starter quality big and sticking him behind Aldridge just reproduces the problem that team has already, too much talent of similar quality. I understand the the gap between Aldridge and Lee might be bigger then say between Webster and Outlaw or Batum. Lee is a 15 and 11 guy who gives you a steal a game and historically has shown he can hit his FTs a bit better then he has this season. I think his stats from a few seasons ago show that he, at least, is not a product of the D’Antoni system. One might want more blocks from the 4 but dude is a very, very good starting PF. Sounds to me, since the rumor came from the Knicks, that this might be their way of announcing to the league what sort of return they want for Lee.

  51. If Bynum was on a team without Kobe and Gasol, he would be getting a LOT more attention on defense from the other team than he is currently getting. To this point he hasn’t developed an offensive “game;” he has some nice pieces, but hasn’t figured out how to put them together yet. I think that will come, maybe by the end of the season, more likely by sometime next year. (Yes, he has had a few games where he got glose to 20 points, but he has also had 11 games with less than 10 points, and 14 games with 10-15 points.)

  52. Breaking Down Bynum vs. Oden:
    http://theassociation.blogs.com/the_association/2009/01/breaking-down-b.html
    [quote]
    Who’s better? That’s hard to call considering both teams don’t depend on either to carry them. But right now I’d say Greg Oden is more NBA-ready simply based his footwork and efficient use of his size. He knows how to clog the lane defensively and is a good rebounder. Bynum’s not playing with the same confidence as last season and it shows as Phil Jackson rarely uses him down the stretch. So right now it’s Oden, but if Bynum stops sulking then maybe it’s a different story.

    The present and future: Both players clearly have the skills and work ethic to be a factor for years but they just aren’t there right now. Oden needs to work on his offensive skills and Bynum needs to work on his footwork. But both benefit from playing on quality franchises that have the patience to allow them to develop. Basically they’re not asked to carry their respective teams right now. In fact both franchises are stable and are able to see the “big picture” with these guys.
    [/quote]

  53. Uka, I personally and sincerly apologize if I made you dummer. You deserve better.

  54. Uka’s posts (not all of them made it through the filter) were deleted because, well, if your goal is to tell us we’re not very bright you need to at least find a bright way to do that. He was far from clever.

  55. Anyone that complains about Derek Fisher taking a pull up jumper in transition (when he is wide open) doesn’t understand basketball. Next to Kobe and Pau, Fish’s shot is a good shot for that starting five.

    As long as it’s in rhythm , no one should have a problem with it. That’s his shot. And you don’t see PJ yanking him out of there after he takes one or two.

    Now his DRIVES to the hoop on the other hand are horrible and he shouldn’t go to the hole unless he’s uncontested. When he tries to force something… it’s just ugly.

    Just my two cents.

  56. Off-topic, but has anyone seen Millsap play in the last 18 games? Is he really as good as his stats indicate? My impression (from last year) was Boozer could create his own shot and have the offense run through him, whereas Millsap feeds off bunnies created by the attention others draw. Or can he really replace Booz?

    How did a guy like this fall so far in the draft? Wow.

  57. Re: Millsap, maybe part of the reason is due to the impression you have of him (me as well) as that of someone who feeds off others. I know nothing about his college career but if he is ‘just’ a really good role player in the nba, maybe he was the same in college ie. not the main banana.

    I’m not american and have no real interest in college basketball so I could well be wrong but given how few college players go on to the nba I doubt they choose many good role players in the draft, it would mostly be stars of their own college team.

    Also he may have just been a big kid whom they selected because of his physical attributes ie. he may be a late developer skillwise.

  58. Snoopy,

    I think Carlos Boozer is overrated. The Jazz can get similar production for less money with Millsap. Boozer has shown a problem with length, a problem that as of now, will never make him dangerous against the top tem in the West, the Lakers, nor up and comers like the Blazers. He was theonly guy on Team USA who couldn’t finish. Boozer might be better, but I’d let him walk.

    Muddywood,

    The problem is Fish takes the PUJIT when he could easily make a better pass for a lay-up or dunk. He’s one of the worst fast break PG’s in the NBA. He either makes a pass too late, or not at all. I don’t know how many times we’ve seen an alley oop pass, when a simple pass across the court or lane would’ve resulted in a dunk or lay-up. He’s wide open because it’s a fast break. There’s t least 1-3 guys that would be wide open for an EASY bucket.

  59. The other reason Milsap fell is that he went to Louisiana Tech, and played against lesser teams for his college career. He was the leading rebounder in college his senior year but many people thought his numbers were inflated because of the level of competition. But, if you can ball you can ball. I don’t think people are making that same mistake with Curry out of Davidson this year.

  60. Yeah. Curry is getting major conference kind of publicity. The difference is Davidson has done a good job of taking advantage of Curry’s attention and scheduling major programs to give Curry a chance to showcase him and the program. It helps when you make a name for yourself in the NCAA’s also. I don’t know if Millsap had that benefit.

    Plus, it helps when LBJ comes to see you play, a nice message to any team interested in LBJ in 2010. This kid can get open and shoot from anywhere, with little space needed. If he played with someone like LBJ, he’d get open 3′s all day.

  61. 25- Thx for the clear explanation of Bynum’s injury.

    Ah, so you are a tennis player. As a dedicated club player I am amazed at how hard tennis is on the body. It’s interesting that the top male players start to be considered leaving their prime at 27 or 28 (Agassi and Conners excepted), as opposed to the NBA where the window of a player’s prime is much larger.

    It’s hard to win a tennis match as you cannot run out the clock like in basketball, you need to keep winning points, games and sets.

  62. Its funny how a win against Celtics coupled with some Celtic losses (showing us that they are human after all) completely changes the dynamic on the postings.

  63. I’m not sold on Curry. I think he will be able to put up a lot of points in the NBA, he can get to the rim at will and has a silky smooth shot that he can get up with no space at all. But I think he will be a liability on the defensive end. But I’d take him early in the draft because I think that he will be able to sell tickets.

    Last years NCAA tournament helped his stock a lot. He was able to show that he could perform on the big stage.

  64. Of the subject. But shouldn’t Utah and USC be playing for the national championship? BCS, what a joke.

  65. Ryan,

    Sounds like your sold on Curry then. The positives you mentioned are enough.

    He seems to have quick hands and some smarts. If it translates to the pros, then he could be good for some CP3 like steals. Paul doesn’t get his steals on the ball, a la Ariza. More passing lanes and big man swiping. Same thing with Iverson in his prime.

  66. 63 – Thanks for articulating that in a post. I miss the controversy a little. It’s a little boring without the debates from the 2 waring factions of Lakers Nation.

    We’re playing bad, the D is terrible”. “We’re 21-5, stop complaining!”…Ahh, good times.

  67. So are all the junior high schools back in session now?

    Just wondering why Celtics Nation isn’t here giving us the daily update as to how many days before the next LA-Boston game.

  68. What I meant by my last post (#63) is that as great as the team is playing now and as happy as that makes me, I still have not seen a game where the team plays solid defense for 4 quarters straight (except vs Boston).

    I also think we need help in the PG spot, although I hope that Sasha can help fill that gap. On that note, Shaun Livingston got released by Miami. Not sure of the details there, but he may be worth looking at.

    Finally, one thing none of us have commented on is the crowd at Staples Center. Ariza said in an interview after the last game that they really feed of the crowd and that it was nice to have an energized crowd this game. I took that to mean that the crowd sometimes does not show up, so I guess the team does not play with great intensity. Anyway, I just think that in pointing out all of the areas of improvement for the team, we are leaving ourselves out of the equation and that’s not right.

  69. Hornets preview up

  70. It seems everyone agrees bringing in another guard doesn’t make sense but Phil Jackson may be thinking otherwise.

    From the Press-Enterprise:
    The Lakers still haven’t decided whether to acquire another point guard to help make up for Jordan Farmar’s absence, but Phil Jackson seems to be leaning that way, if only to make sure Derek Fisher doesn’t burn out before the playoffs.

    “When I look at the box score and I see Fish has played 40 minutes again, that’s usually when we say that’s too many minutes for him at this particular time in the season,” Jackson said. “We’d like him to be in the 30-minute area, but not 40 minutes.”