Basketball is Back! – Lakers vs. Warriors Wrap Up

Darius Soriano —  October 8, 2009
Golden State Warriors vs Los Angeles Lakers

After one pre-season game the Lakers showed us some of what this team is capable of as they routed the Golden State Warriors 118 to 101.  Coming into this game, there seemed to be more questions than answers for a team coming off a title.  How would ‘Drew play?  What would our rotations look like?  How would our bench guards play?  Ron Artest!!??  Here are some thoughts on the game in general (and those questions specifically) from the game against the Dubs.  Keep in mind, though, this was only one game and an extremely small sample size:

*Andrew Bynum looks very much recovered from his injury that hampered him during the second half of the regular season and into the playoffs.  He ran the floor well and finished in the paint with ease.  He flashed some athleticism as he was able to play above the rim and he also showed some polish in working the low block.  He did a very good job of staying patient after he made his catch – reading the defense and acting accordingly.  He showed nice drop steps to both the middle and the baseline (finishing with both hands) and showed good passing back to the perimeter when nothing was there for him.  All of this work on offense led to a game high 24 points on 8-13 from the field and 8-9 from the FT line, all for a tidy +36 on the game.  Nice.  He also displayed good wind as he was the only Laker to play the entire 1st quarter while running post lane sprints and showing hustle on both the offensive and defensive glass (though he didn’t tally a high number of boards, gathering 5 total caroms).  Even for a pre-season game, I don’t think we could have asked for more and he definitely passed the eyeball test.

*Ron Artest played a nice, controlled game.  He showed off his strong mid-range game with a couple of pull up jumpers from the top of the key area and he even hit a corner three (not his best shooting spot, as we’ve detailed before).  Ron also played some pretty good defense – using that strong body to disrupt dribblers trying to attack the rim and showing good hands by getting his mits on some loose balls in his vicinity.  Ron also showed his capabilities on the glass, pulling in 9 total rebounds including 3 offensive.  However, where Ron surprised many was with his playmaking.  He had a beautifully placed lob to Andrew as Bynum flashed to the post, reverse spun back to the middle, and caught the ball that Ron delivered from the corner (reminded me of that Shaw/Shaq redemption play circa 2000).  He had a fantastic off the dribble left handed bounce pass to Bynum after penetrating the baseline that set up an easy finish for ‘Drew.  He then had a very nice shovel hand off to Lamar after driving the lane from the top of the key that set LO up for a nice dunk.  In all, Artest had 7 assists and several of those were very good plays that he made for his mates (not just post entries where Pau makes a jump hook).  Basically, Ron made the right play almost every time he touched the ball and created well when he had his chances.  It bares repeating that this was only one game, but this was an encouraging start for #37.

*Phil stuck to somewhat traditional rotations.  Odom was the first big off the bench and Farmar the first guard.  He let Kobe play most of the first quarter before going to Sasha.  Ammo got into the game before Luke, but it’s the pre-season and Phil is likely looking to see how Morrison plays when he’s not just in the game with scrubs.  Powell got some extened minutes as well but I think that is more the result of wanting to rest Pau than any indicator of what the regular season may look like.  All in all, the substitutions were pretty formulaic and there wasn’t anything I would really call a surprise.  But if there was one thing Phil did show that may or may not become a trend it was the backcourt pairing of Farmar/WOW.  They got extended minutes together in the 4th quarter and played well with and off of each other.  Maybe we’ll see more of that.  Or, again, maybe this is just the pre-season.

*Speaking of WOW and Farmar, our bench guards played a very good game.  The new, clean cut Machine was making jumpers.  I was especially happy that on his first shot attempt, he passed up a wide open three and took one dribble inside the arc to take a 20 footer.  He buried that shot and then proceeded to knock down his next two jumpers (finishing 3 of 4 from the field).  Farmar played a nice blend of uptempo and half court styles.  He was able to push the pace when the fast break presented itself, but also ran our sets pretty well.  He flashed his quick first step on offense to attack to the basket and also get into the gaps of the Warriors defense to create for teammates.  He still showed a penchant for dribbling a bit too much on a few possessions and also took one or two jumpers out of the flow of our sets, but overall I was pleased with his play.  He seemed focussed and confident – which is a big departure from where he was in March, April, and May of last season.  And everyone’s favorite backup guard WOW also played a pretty solid game.  He had a fantastic dunk over Mikki Moore – getting the ball in the open court, reading the defense, and demoralizing the dreadlocked Moore for a one handed flush when no one stopped the ball.  He also showed that he’s still got confidence in his jumper, nailing a three pointer and taking a few other jumpers in rhythm and without hesitation.   If our back up guards can play even remotely close to this well over the course of the season we will not be giving up the big leads that we did in the middle portion of last season.

*The rest of the team played well.  Kobe was his typical self – scoring when he wanted to and in the manner that he wanted to.  He focussed on his post game a lot as he often found himself being guarded by the smallish guards Curry and Morrow.  Neither of those guys can come close to battling Kobe on the block and he was pretty relentless in trying to punish them whenever they found themselves matched up with our boy Bean.  One thing I did notice about Kobe was his desire to stick it to the young Curry whenever he got the chance.  Kobe pressured him on defense (often leaving his own man to double the new Dub’s PG when he crossed half court) and (as I mentioned) he was trying to attack him on offense whenever they were matched up against each other.  If I was Curry, I’d actually take Kobe’s actions as a compliment as Kobe rarely makes the effort against players he doesn’t deem worthy, so obviously #24 thinks this kid could play or he wouldn’t have sought him out in the manner that he did.

*Speaking of Curry, this kid can flat out shoot (funny to say this on a 5-15 night, but it’s true).  His jumper looks just as pure as his Pops’ and his release is pure beauty.  He’s also an underrated playmaker, showing that he has good court vision and good instincts when playing the P&R.  A couple of times he successfully split the double team on the P&R and found an open teammate for a free look at a jumper.  Yes, Curry can improve his strength and yes, he will need to protect the ball better as guards try to see if he really is a ball handling PG, but overall I was impressed.  His range is limitless and he’s undoubtedly got guts.

*The rest of the Warriors were okay.  There’s only so much you can learn from the losing end of a blowout so maybe this isn’t the best time to objectively look at their team.  They didn’t have Brandon Wright, Azubuike, or former Laker and fan favorite Turiaf, whose presence would have helped on the glass and with their interior D.  They also lost Ellis very early to an ankle sprain and that definitely hurt their chances and limited their ability to push pace.  Some of their other guys looked good, but did not impress as much as I would have hoped (I do live in Oakland, so I have an interest in some of these kids).  Randolph flashed his versatility, skill set, and overall freakishness with 18 points, 12 rebounds, and a very good block on Kobe in the open court.  Biedrins worked the glass and was his usual slippery self around the basket.  Morrow showed that the shooting prowess he showed last season was not a fluke.  But overall?  Meh (especially you Capt. Jack).  They’ll surely want a better effort when they face the Lakers again at the Fabulous Forum on Friday.

-Darius

Darius Soriano

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79 responses to Basketball is Back! – Lakers vs. Warriors Wrap Up

  1. A couple of comments brought over from the last thread:

    First from drrayeye:
    ShanWOW may help us get over the loss of Trevor this season.

    Great to see Derek Fisher once again starting and providing his behind the scenes magic.

    Hard to recognise Sasha.

    Easy to recognise Andrew.

    Can’t miss Artest.

    Wonder if Kloe brought Lamar a snickers bar at halftime?

    Lakers just want to have fun.

    Now, Wild Yams:
    While it was the first preseason game and you don’t want to get too carried away with anything, I think you can definitely take two things away from this game: Bynum looks healthy and Artest’s inclusion looked seamless. Bynum’s timing isn’t top notch yet (you could say that about most players right now), but he hasn’t looked that confident and healthy since January. And before people get down on him for not getting more boards, consider that the Lakers grabbed a ton anyway and held a huge edge in that area. The best thing about watching Bynum for me was just that he drew a TON of defensive attention out there.

    Artest looked far better than I could have hoped for last night. There were maybe two times where I got worried that he was dominating the ball too much, dribbling in from the perimeter, but on both occasions rather than take an ill advised shot he instead set up teammates with fantastic passes. If that’s the kind of ball domination we can expect from him, then I hope he has the ball in his hands a lot. Other than that he did a great job of just finding a spot on the perimeter to set up and be open for kickouts, once he got in a groove his stroke looked great on his shots, and he even looked to take advantage of being guarded by a smaller player by going into the post a time or two. And you could tell on TV that he was talking a lot on defense, making sure everyone got back in time. The Good Artest is a great addition. Let’s just hope The Bad Artest is dead and buried

  2. Yes, I also love the WOW/Farmar combo and wished we went to it (or just went to more WOW in general) instead of trotting Sasha out to suck it up day in and day out.

    Hopefully all the backups play well though. I’m still hopeful the PG of the future is WOW or Farmar just as soon as they can put it all together

  3. Hey thanks for the comments roundup – definitely appreciate that instead of having to sift through all of them to find ones worth reading

  4. I though Capt. Jack definitely was just thinking about Capt. Jack. Some of his shots were straight up “playground going for mine” shots.

    I know it’s part of GSW’s style, but he just seemed intent on doing him. We know he’s unhappy. Is this how it’s going to be until he gets what he wants.

    Did anyone else notice this or am I just overreacting?

  5. I’m not sold on Shannon Brown, he just seems selfish. Instead of posterizing Moore, exciting the crowd, and lighting up twitter, he should have just passsed the ball to LO for the open layup.

  6. Every year I have to myself not to get too excited during the preseason, but man was that fun to watch. I really hope Farmar and ShanWOW can keep up that kind of play during the regular season.

    Bynum looked like a new man. WildYams’s observation about him drawing a lot of defensive attention is an astute one; one play in particular, Bynum drew the attention of 3 defenders, one of whom managed to forget about Kobe and allowed him to get the easy put-back. How often do we see Kobe get a shot that easy because someone ELSE is drawing attention? I also loved seeing him catch that lob Artest threw from the corner–no way would he have gotten to that at the end of last season.

    Things look very encouraging so far…

  7. I am looking forward to the Shannon Brown dunk of the game. Glad he is still a Laker

  8. As another East Bay resident, the state of the Warriors (like every other sports team in the city) is a mess. They should just commit to a youth movement they can develop into a strong team, the way OKC has been doing it. Then once the core of Ellis, Biedrins, Randolph, Morrow, Curry, etc. start showing that chemistry they should add the important veteran parts to put them over the top. Now, by signing Jackson and Magette to longer contracts as well as some of their young guys, while employing an indecisive drunk as coach and doing their best to alienate Ellis and Randolph, they’re getting the worst of all worlds.

    They have no plan, and they’re sticking to that…

    Whether Jackson will act like a jerk on the court during the regular season I don’t know. This was a preseason game and as a vet in this situation, he may just be unwilling to put himself out to be hurt, but it isn’t a good sign.

    On the other hand, the Lakers biggest problem day in and day out this year could be boredom. I kind of hope Artest’s addition gives a lockeroom voice that’s still hungry and pushing them each game.

  9. Bernie wins today’s prize for best impersonation of Henry at Truehoop!

  10. Darius you’re write-up was great as always. What did interest me was the combo Jordan/Wow movement by Phil. Given Wow’s size these two can match up with pretty much every 1-2 across the league even if we are talking about starters. Watching Jordan’s reaction to Wow’s dunk was a psych class analysis waiting to be written. What do you guys feel their chemistry is shaping up to be so far?

  11. 9 – J.D, yes it’s true the Warriors are a mess, but it’s fun to watch them zip up and down the court. Curry promises more of the same.

    I’m looking forward to seeing our Lakers mail it in against them during their two visits to Oakland this year …

  12. Bernie,
    Remember the Farmar layup – where he ran the entire court, faked a pass, and layed the ball up left-handed? Stu said, “You don’t pass the ball, and risk a turnover, unless the defense stops the ball.” That is the same thing with ShanWOW. Lamar sometimes has slippery hands and isn’t famous for his finishes – ShanWOW is. ’nuff said.

  13. Premised with this being preseason, lets not forget the GSW is not a team with much size. I want to see Bynum going against some trees. When he is effecting guys like Duncan and STAT the way he has when healthy, I’ll know he’s healthy. Otherwise, it was nice seeing him get up a little and moving his feet with some purpose.

  14. Until we have a Laker trophy presentation in June, some of us won’t be happy with how things are progressing. I really like Kurt’s suggestion that we relax – just a bit – and enjoy the ride that has just started. I suspect it will be fun, regardless where the road takes us next spring.

  15. Did the Lakers use last season’s zone/trap defensive scheme?

  16. R,

    Unfortunately, that’s the problem. The fans support them because they are entertaining, an they seem to have no real interest in being a good team. Just entertaining. There’s no pressure to win. With winning comes expectations. Expectations eventually lead to lack of interest when those expectation aren’t met.

    I’m not saying a fan base shouldn’t support their team, but they have to want more then what they are getting. The Warriors organization has it good.

    We only go to GSW once in the reg. season and I’m saying we win that, plus the 2 at home.

  17. Wondah,
    We actually do go to Oakland twice each year. This season we visit on 11/28 and 3/16. Because the Dubs are in our division we play them 4 times each year. It’s the teams in the other Western Conference divisions that we alternate playing 3 and 4 times a year. For example, this season we play Portland 3 times (two on the road) while last year we played them 4 times. So, I believe next season (2010-11) we will again play them 4 times and then the season after that we will play them 3 times (but we will get the two home games).

  18. Didn’t see the game, only highlights. Kobe has that nice little dream shake towards the baseline. That looked so easy, I hope we see a lot of that. Also glad to see he got T’ed up. That just tells me the fire is still there despite the monkey being off his back.

    Looking at still photos: every one of our big 6 looks like they’re in great shape. that’s all I can really ask for.

    Shannon Brown: human highlight reel.

  19. Darius,

    You’re right. I missed the November game. 3 pre-season games and 4 reg. season. Watch them do good and snatch the 8th seed, and make it 11 games total.

  20. darius, did they televise the game on local tv? lookin at the warriors schedule, it doesn’t look like any of their pre season games will be on csnbay, including fridays l.a. game.

  21. Is it just me or did the score at the end of the game change randomly? When Shannon Brown got fouled it was 114-95, then he made both free throws, so it should have been 116-95, but they gave us 4 points and made it 118-95, then a GSW player made two free throws and they gave them 6 points to make it 118-101?? Am I crazy or did I miss something??

  22. @Travis- I noticed the dream shake too, guess he really was paying attention while working out with Hakeem.

  23. #21. Andre,
    Nope the game wasn’t on local TV. They showed volleyball instead. I watched the game on an online feed.

    Also, speaking about Fan support of the W’s, I have a theory. The Bay area loves it’s hoops, so that’s one thing. The other thing, though, is that the Warriors do have a strong history. Yes they are transplants from Philly, but they’ve had success in the Bay. They have a championship in their past and they were pretty good in the 80′s and early 90′s. They’ve had a bad string for a while, but the fans just won’t jump ship, especially since they really do love the game. In a way, this team is kind of like the 49ers. Even when the 49ers were terrible, they stil sold out. They just had that passionate group of fans that cared. The Warriors fans care and they’ll continue to care. On some levels it doesn’t make sense, but in the end they really do want a winner but will just keep showing up/watching and settle for whats here now because it’s *their* team.

  24. #13 Craig W.

    Sorry if you over-reacted to my comment or think I’m overtly negative. I’m simply stating in a measured tone that based on my full-proof, Nobel prize winning analysis and evidence, Shannon Brown should have passed the ball to LO and not taken such a high-percentage dunk. My mild criticism fell far short than what Luke Walton and Travis Knight have said in print. It’s par for the course.

  25. Just my 2 cents on Warriors’ fans – at least they’re going to games in good times AND bad. You all know how many “fans” a team has when it’s winning. I find it refreshing for there to be a team that has actual fans that support the team, regardless of their current level of success (or lack of such).

  26. #13. Craig W.,
    In reference to Bernie’s most recent comment (#25) I was going to say that I thought Bernie’s comments were in jest.

  27. Darius & PhilAus,

    I wasn’t bashing the fans. A loyal fan base should always support their team. I applaud them.

    I’m knocking the organization for taking advantage of that fact. They know the fans are going to be there, so they don’t actually try to “win” just entertain. I know it’s the real the point of professional sports. But the Warriors fan base deserves for the Front Office to try harder.

  28. I meant “they” as in The Warriors organization. Not the fans. I hope that clears things up.

  29. #28. wondahbap,
    I got that you were knocking the management of the team and not the fans. I was only trying to give my 2 cents on why the fans would still support a team like that with a management group (really the owner) like that. I think we’re on the same page.

  30. Great business model if you’re an owner.

  31. Bay Area Sports Fans are extremely loyal and knowledgeable. Frankly they deserve better than they’ve gotten from their collective teams the last decade or so (with the exception of the Sharks?).

    The lack of success have also made them bitter haters on any team you may root for that does have success, but that’s another story…

    I don’t think the Warriors owner is smart enough to take advantage of this fan base. Unlike Donald Sterling he doesn’t make money every year. They continuously make stupid deals and their inability to make the playoffs keeps them from that extra revenue.

    Instead, I think they’re panicky and don’t understand the business. They’re like cooks who panic after their meal has been in the oven only 5 minutes because its still undercooked, so they make some unnecessary adjustment that ruins what they might have been.

    And they’re unlucky.

    Oakland deserves a good basketball team. I hope the ownership sells sometime soon.

  32. And then there’s the corpse that is Al Davis.

  33. It’s not funny to talk about Al Davis like that- think of all the children whose life essence he feeds upon to keep him walking among us!

  34. #28. wondahbap – Oh for sure. I agree wholeheartedly. I mainly just wanted to express my appreciation of real fans who stick with their team, even when the owners are shanking them and the team is not really getting the job done on the floor. I think we’re all pretty much on the same page here, given that to be reading/posting on this site, we’re all pretty much hardcore fans through & through!

  35. #20 – wondahbap:

    Which way’s the sweep gonna go?

  36. Just to clear things up, my comments was just me being snarky. Shannon Brown’s dunk was just an example and a reminder of how way off base Henry Abbott’s blog was. Anybody with common basketball sense would know to go for the dunk if you can…..unless Kwame Brown is open, then by all means, pass the ball to him.

  37. Hmm, never considered Warriors fans to be any better than other fans of bad teams.
    I don’t know how that Warriors arena is when they play other teams, but when they play the Lakers it’s like a Laker home game. 60-70% are rooting for the Lakers. And it’s always been like this, even when Lakers are mediocre.

  38. 39 – Well, there are quite a few SoCal transplants living in the Bay Area.

    (like, ahem, me)

    Warriors management markets Warriors tickets as an opportunity to see other (ie better) teams play the Warriors (ie beat them like a drum).

    I’m happy to go along with this.

  39. Would any of you amongst us have an idea where I may rewatch last night’s game?

  40. <—Another transplant from LA living in SF.

    I found it to be really interesting when I attended my first Warriors game against the Lakers. 90% of the people sporting jerseys were wearing Laker jerseys with the exception of the season following the Warriors playoff booting of the Mavs.

    I have no expectations of the warriors as my second favorite team beyond entertainment.

  41. So how good are the lakers? There was no mention of Pau (and his injured finger and supposedly long summer of competetive basketball!!!)

  42. City of Champions?

  43. Interesting comments from the Hawks coaching staff on NBA TV training camp. They were discussing when the 4 could switch and guard the other team’s 5. They stated in all cases except against Shaq, Howard and Bynum…

  44. 45, hmm high respect for Bynum, nice

  45. Bernie,
    On a break you don’t pass the ball until you need to especially when you are the PG. Also… Odom was basically in no mans land and if he received the ball could have easily picked up a charge. Brown made the right play but so did Odom, by Lamar running that lane he drew the defender(s) away from Brown.

    45),
    The easiest way to see how good a player is is to see (or in this case hear) how the other coach plays him. If other coaches see how good Bynum is maybe Lakers fans should start too. For instance in last years playoffs team were leaving Ariza alone on the perimeter. Now Ariza to his credit knocked down open shots… but other scouts and coaches showed very little respect for Ariza’s game.

  46. Aaron, they either showed little respect for Ariza’s game, as you assert, or they thought that in picking their poison against a championship caliber team, Ariza was the starter they preferred shooting. There should be few people who would feel disrespected if they got open shots because the D was more focused on Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, LO and Fish. Also, Houston has shown Ariza some respect in the contract they committed to him. That said, Drew can make this team dominant in an era with some excellent competition. We’ll see.

  47. re: continued comments about Bernie
    Sarcasm is hard to tell on the internet but I’m pretty sure that was it.

    Thanks for the link 36, loved seeing Kobe break it down. This only adds fuel to the fire of everyone saying this is Kobe’s team, not Phil’s, last year! haha

    In other news, congrats to both so cal baseball teams tonight, great wins.

  48. On an unrelated note:

    Sometimes I just have to shake my head:
    “O’Neal raised a few eyebrows after practice Thursday by declaring this Cavaliers team “the best team I’ve ever played on. On paper, anyway.”

    Some might take the 1999-2000 NBA champion Lakers with Bryant, Glen Rice, Robert Horry, Ron Harper, A.C. Green and Derek Fisher, or the 2003-04 Lakers who finished 56-26 with Bryant, Karl Malone and Gary Payton.

    When skeptical reporters questioned O’Neal about the comment, he said: “I’ve always begged management to get me the power forward I’ve needed and the shooters I’ve needed. Here you’ve got a guy that’s been starting 10 or 11 years [Zydrunas Ilgauskas] that’s backing me up, you’ve got Varejao who’s one of the top forwards in the league and you’ve got D-Block [Jackson] coming off the bench. We have a lot of great shooters, so on paper, I’d say yes.”

    When told of the comment, coach Mike Brown smiled and said: “When the big fella talks, you’ve got to listen. If he says that, it’s something that has to be heard.”"

    Not so much the stacked Lakers teams from 1999-2004, but what about the 1995 Magic? 2006 Heat? Shaq called Van Gundy a frontrunner, but this just defies all logic and is the epitome of frontrunning.

  49. Hold on, i thot Bernie was just trying to make fun of Henry Abbott. I dont believe he meant that Wow should have passed the ball…humor people

  50. Matthias,
    Yes, sarcasm is sometimes hard to detect, but – having written my share of it here – I must admit I missed Bernie’s intent too.

    Sorry, my bad.

  51. Re: Last year’s finals and Ariza. Remember, the Magic had him on that team and had traded him (for Brian Cook) because they thought he couldn’t hit the outside shot consistently. Ariza improved his game, but you could tell in post-game interviews SVG was stunned by the changes in Ariza. Maybe a scout warned him, but he clearly did not believe it.

  52. AFB, I love Shaq but he’s always a *live in the present/grass IS always greener* type of person. In every stop in his career, the pieces surrounding him have been the best he’s had. The more interesting part is Mike Brown’s comments about paying attention to this stuff and taking it seriously. I mean, when Shaq talks I’ve learned to just pass it off as just the latest round of comedy or hyperbole. He’s one of the most bombastic characters this league has ever seen and rarely speaks in measured tones. Let Tim Duncan say something like that and I’d perk up and listen. Let Fisher or Rip Hamilton or even Dirk say something about how he feels about his team and I’d really pay attention. Shaq saying this stuff is like Gilbert Arenas saying something – uh, okay, next.

  53. The one thing I really liked about preseason game 1 was Andrew Bynums activity in the paint. He didn’t hesitate to bang around even when there were bodies falling around his legs/knees.

  54. #54: You’re right. I like Shaq and appreciated what he did in LA. But sometimes even I have to ask “are you freaking kidding, Shaq?” I totally ignored Mike Brown’s comments just like most of the Cavs players do while in the game. LOL.

  55. PeanutButterSpread October 9, 2009 at 9:07 am

    I totally enjoyed the sarcasm Bernie!

    Seriously, I agree with jd Hastings, best impersonation of True Hoop’s Henry.

  56. Shaq has a personality i absolutely love, but you can always tell he is full of sh*t. I haven’t heard it, but i’ll bet money blindly that he said something similar in Phoenix.

    Bynum is a beast. Not because of this 1 game, but because of what we have seen thus far in his career. If he can avoid the injuries, then we are talking about a premier player in the league for a decade to come.

    Regarding Artest, I think all the Artest supporters saw this man’s passing/playmaking ability. This is the reason why PJ was so high on Artest, he fits in perfectly with the triangle. His passing is his 2nd best trait, followed by his all-world, all-time premier defense. One of the BEST perimeter defenders that the NBA has EVER seen.

    Kobe is Kobe. He is the heart and soul of the Lakers. I think that since he won his 4th, the pressure should alleviate a bit, and we should see him at his best. I firmly believe that he has 6 rings on his mind now.

  57. if the cavs win the c’hip this year.. ure gonna hear ‘wade n lebron can’t win a c’hip w/o me..’

  58. Kurt,
    You had a thread about it sometime back, but we all seem to forget quickly just how good Phil is at developing players. Ariza is just the latest example. ShanWOW may be the next. The ability is there – or they wouldn’t be in the NBA at all – but Phil’s philosophy of letting each player play to his strengths and finding the right place for him in Phil’s system is just pure genius.

    I suspect this is one reason he adopted Tex Winter’s triangle. First it is a system, where different skills are needed in different situations, rather than Nellie’s scatterball – where athleticism and shooting are prized and other skills downgraded. This means more different types of players can fit in. In a world where athleticism and shooting are prized above all else you can find a lot of very good players who are ignored by others because they don’t seem to be able to shoot. With wide open shots and specified movement, these players’ NBA skills can easily be developed.

    SVG’s system apparently didn’t take the pressure off Ariza enough to allow him to develop successful habits…same with ShanWOW.

    This is also why we don’t think Ariza will do as well in Houston. However, I think Ariza has now gotten a confidence that will stick with him for the rest of his career. I do think his skills were uniquely adapted to this group of individuals in the triangle. Therefore, he may see some drop in his productivity. Ariza won’t ever go to the end of the bench again, however – IMO.

  59. Craig W. – Agreed. I love Ariza and I hope he does well in Houston, but I think his success will be heavily contingent on whether McGrady is playing well. Trevor is just not a guy who can create his own shot, and Houston doesn’t have anywhere near the offensive firepower that we had last season. If McGrady is healthy and playing well, however, I think he’ll get Trevor the looks he needs.

  60. Yeah, I foresee stories at some point during the season about how Ariza isn’t living up to expectations, when he’s actually playing just as well, he just doesn’t have 4 other guys on the court distracting defenses.

    Of course as the summer has progressed it’s been fun to hear Ariza’s importance grow in Bill Simmons’s mind to the point that he’s called him the best swing defender in the league, and is probably gearing up to claim that Ariza single-handedly won the title for the lakers.

    But this sort of off-season hyperbole is unfair to the kid. He’s a perfect match for any potential contender who needs a fill in the blanks guy who can energize a crowd with his hustle (like Shan Wow now). The current Rockets team seems like the worst case scenario. Unless TMac comes back, Aaron Brooks is the only player on that team who can make their own shot. And he mainly makes his own shots…

    If they can become a running team, maybe Trevor can get enough open court looks to do well, but that would be one of the most drastic transforations of team character of all time.

  61. Craig W,
    Great post on PJ.

  62. I can’t pretend to really understand what’s going on here, but this is supposedly a chart of the players who most benefitted from playing with other players who were quality offensive players. See if you note any pattern among the top 7 players:

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/blog/?p=3543

  63. That link is also fun because by their calculation (which they themselves find fault with), Nick Van Exel was the worst defender in the history of the nba…

  64. So, was one preseason game all it took for the “Bynum off the bench” crowd to see the light? Sheesh, while it was obvious to some of us that such a view was ridiculous when first promoted, it is still amazing how quickly that view got dashed….

  65. 65. Magic Johnson :)

  66. How is Kwame Brown not on top of the list of players dragging teammates down?

  67. Somehting must be wrong with the math. I don;t care what he used. Haha.

  68. http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/blog/ball_dont_lie/post/The-10-man-rotation-starring-great-defense?urn=nba,194973

    there’s a picture/article alleging odom is smoking marijuana; however, i think it’s a hoax, because the article doesn’t appear on star magazine’s website.

    i believe this is just a photoshop job/hoax.

  69. 63. j.d. Interestingly enough, from what I’ve read about the Rockets’ preseason games, it appears they are running A LOT. It makes sense given their current personnel; they’re without Yao for probably the whole season, and who knows with T-Mac. I’m actually of the mind that Houston is going to surprise some people this year. I of course don’t think they’re going to be much of a threat to us, but I bet they will be better than .500, and I wouldn’t be totally shocked if they managed to make the playoffs.

  70. #67. I was one that called that idea interesting, and I still stand by that. Not because Bynum isn’t a capable starter (he obviously is), but because Odom is a capable starter as well. To me, there are positives that both players bring to the table that are very useful to the starting unit and I don’t think it’s ridiculous to explore the option.

    In the end though, I think Bynum keeps his starting gig and Odom comes off the bench, and that is likely for the best. Both players are comfortable in those roles from last season and as the old saying goes – if it ain’t broke…

  71. Chibi,

    Real pic or not. I’d bet my house that LO still tokes. Not that I care what he does. I just hope he doesn’t do it before games.

    I played with or against a few of people in my rec leagues who think they play better high, and they played great sometimes, and like duds other games. You know, inconsistent. Makes you wonder doesn’t it.

  72. Funky Chicken, I’d still like to see it in certain matchups. Why would you presume after one preseaon game Phil would never cosider it?

    And come in here with a respectful, not baiting, tone. With the season starting soon the level of discourse here will rise one way or another.

  73. If Odom tests positive for mj use he could be due a long suspension by the NBA because it wouldn’t be his first offense. I don’t know how long under the rules, but this would not be good for us.

    72- I thought the rockets would surprise because they’d be disciplined and defend well so any team that took them lightly would be punished. But if they try to become a running team, what happens to the defensive discipline from last year? Their 2 young PGs are definitely talented, but are they ready to be Steve Nashes? They still might surprise, but at this point I have no idea what to expect.

  74. Kurt,
    Phil has never changed around his starting lineups based on matchups… so I don’t think he will start now. And I see few situations where Lamar is a better fit than Andrew. I am gussing you were thinking when other teams go small like… Golden State maybe? But those are the games where Bynum plays his best… against smaller front lines. Andrew is also just the better player compared to Lamar (who I love). But the biggest reason Andrew is and forever will be the starting Center is Pau Gasol. The spaniard is a natural PF and plays better the less minutes he has to play at Center. So those are the reason I think Phil would never consider bringing Drew off the bench. Well… he might think about it as often as he does playing with the idea of bringing Kobe off the bench.

  75. As a basketball player and also a user of Marijuana, i can agree with wondahbap on this one. Honestly, sometimes when i play high, i will tear it up. I’m sure all of you non-drug users will just laugh condescendingly… stupid stoner thinks he’s better when he’s high… but i am not the only one who thinks this. And then sometimes, i will just be terrible. Timing is off, cant make a shot. It is seemingly random. But this is the main reason i believe Lamar still smokes. His inconsistency is so consistent, its hard for me to believe he doesn’t toke.

  76. Forgot to say ex- Marijuana user. Bit of a difference.

    Oh, and any recommendations on good leagues to play for? OR even places to go to play a decent pick up game? Maybe some of you have courts you like to visit. I’m 6’8 220 and actually pretty skilled, relatively speaking. so i’m looking for a challenge. I need to improve my skills. I want to play some college ball here soon.

    I apologize if this isn’t the proper place to ask this question!