The Point Guard Conundrum

Kurt —  January 21, 2010

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The Lakers are getting above average offensive production at every position except one (using PER as the snapshot stat). They are holding the opposing team to average or less than average production at every position except one.

It’s no secret that if the Lakers have a weakness that could haunt them later, it is production at the point guard spot. At both ends of the floor. The Lakers have not gotten good shooting out of the point guard position, they have gotten questionable decision making, and they have gotten poor defense and an inability to slow penetration.

But the fix is not that simple. Notice I did not say the Lakers are getting poor production out of Derek Fisher — the production is a problem position wide. Everyone who plays there. That is what Reed noted to me in a recent email (after seeing the Lakers play in person in Dallas).

We currently have the single worst PG PER in the league at -5.9. Only Memphis (-5.4) and GS (-5.0 are close). None of our PGs shoot over 35% from three. Fisher is shooting 36% overall and Farmar 41%. Our best PG (Farmar) is 43rd among PGs in PER. Our starter (Fisher) is 65th (only 67 make Hollinger’s list). To drive the point home, of all the PGs in the league who have played 6 minutes per game, Fisher is the 3rd worse in PER. I believe his +/- numbers and decent 5-man-lineup production stats are only passable because (i) he plays 100% of his minutes with Kobe and two of Pau/Odom/Bynum, and (ii) his replacements are well below average.

But of them, Fisher is struggling the most. Again Reed:

As much as I love him, I think that Fisher is far below replacement level at this point… Fisher’s True Shooing percentage is 4% lower than the worst shooting team in the league (New Jersey). If a team were comprised of players that shot exactly like Fisher, they would by far be the worst offensive team in league history. And yet, he probably has more open looks than any PG in the league given his role in the offense.

Then there are the defensive concerns — Fisher is allowing opposing point guards to shoot 51.9% (eFG%), and he is not slowing penetration or guiding other point guards to help with any consistency.

Darius added to the Fisher talk.

What I worry about most is his drop off in shooting from 3. I can live with a low-ish % from him on his two point baskets just because he’s not a finisher inside and that will skew his shooting numbers downward as he’s primarily a jumpshooter. But if Fish can’t shoot in the 38-42% range from 3 that will be a problem for us just because I know that Farmar/WOW can’t shoot that number over extended minutes (nor would I even want them attempting enough 3’s where shooting a good percentage really matters as that is not their game and I’d prefer players play to their strengths).

What we are talking about here is the balance of the offense. Bynum operates from the post. Gasol can operate from the post. Kobe wants touches there. Artest has a bull move from the post. Odom can post up. What the Lakers need is a guard who can steadily make good post entry passes and then spread the floor. Fisher is not doing the second half of that right now (Artest is the best of our three point shoters getting regular minutes). In a playoff series, that could come back to haunt the Lakers as defenses collapse down off the shooters.

The problem is, neither Farmar nor Brown can spread the floor with their shot either. And they bring their own problems. Darius again:

Farmar could take those minutes or Brown could, but I’m not convinced that either of them is a 30 minute PG for us. They both, still, play too fast and don’t exhibit enough control and that style of play is not one that mixes well with our starters (especially now that Artest is swapped for Ariza). I suppose both could change or would adjust based off the personnel that they’re surrounded by (this would be more natural for Brown, imo), but I’m not sure.

In the off-season, the Lakers front office will be forced to deal with this situation. But, with the team not looking to take on salary, it is unlikely that any moves will be made at the trade deadline.

Phil seems to be dealing with the problem by trying to limit Fisher’s minutes every night — something he did last year but now, with the level of Fisher’s deterioration, has to happen even more abruptly. That means subbing Fisher out early (8 minutes of the first quarter) and keep his minutes down. The problem is, Phil wanted to play Farmar more late in the Orlando win but he on three trips down in a row he took the team out of the offense. The last one he called Gasol out of the post to set up a high pick, then launched an off-balance 25 footer. Soon Fisher was in, because the offense can flow better with him in it.

Brown should get some more run. Farmar will get time. Sasha needs to get some run at the point (he did okay in that role last season and he is shooting the three fairly well right now). Fisher will get his run, but his minutes need to be reduced. Close game and you need some big shots? Get him in there. But Phil needs to find a 25-30 minute a game answer at the point guard, and get that person fitting in the rotations. Darius adds this final note:

Phil is the king of normalizing roles and getting players conditioned to play with certain personnel groupings and at certain times during the game. And while I’m not at the stage where anything is urgent, I will be in about 4 weeks when we start to bear down on March and we should start to see more of what the team is capable of and have a better idea of where the team is headed.

to The Point Guard Conundrum

  1. Numbers have finally backed what we have said all along. Fish is at the end of his career. The problem is no one is ready to step into his shoes. As I have been saying for weeks both Brown and Farmar play too fast. Sasha could help but, PJ is not playing him because he has the perfect line-ups with Farmar, Brown, and Kobe with either Lamar and Pau or Bynum and Pau. If PJ keeps these line-ups, watch the numbers go up from the point guard position. They already have for Farmar (he is up to a 13.1 PER) and Brown (13.8 PER).


  2. Excellent analysis as usual. I tend to dismiss concern about Fisher, because the triangle often produces puny numbers from the point guard position, which makes comparison often fruitless. But Farmar is a key. Phil has liked him and been somewhat patient, even though Farmar is not a triangle guy. You have to be able to fill the corner, hit the open three, balance the floor, and get back on defense. That’s always been the basic job description for Phil, whether it’s John Paxson or Ron Harper in the position.
    It seems Phil also toys with an X factor like Farmer, younger, more daring to go out of the offense. A different gear. Getting the best possible player as that different gear, someone who understands the offense yet who pushes limits as a reserve. I’m guessing that style of player has interested Phil more and more over the years.
    That style of player seems to be one of the keys to securing another title. I love this blog.


  3. What’s this Devin Harris rumor on ESPN all about? Anyone with insider access who can read it?


  4. The only thing that concerns me with Fish is when he drives.. it’s embarrassing to watch. The other night he had a nice drive and layup over Carter, but boy is that a rarity.

    The reverse with Lamar, I don’t like seeing him attempt the three unless he’s started with a few inside buckets.


  5. I don’t think it is much of a conundrum. Fisher is well past the point that he should be benched. Short of a miracle trade, you give more minutes to the point guard who has played best this year with the starters, Farmar. It would be nice if Brown knew how to play point but he is a shooting guard. They should work on teaching him, but until he learns Farmar is the best option.

    Our net production(82games) has been +.5 for Farmer, negative 2.1 for Brown, and negative 9.1 for Fisher(worst starter in the entire league).

    When you look at actual +/- Farmar has been far better than Fisher. Here are the available numbers from that are fairly current. The numbers are points, minutes, and points per minute.

    J. Farmar R. Artest P. Gasol 63 70:25 .894
    D. Fisher R. Artest P. Gasol 140 391:59 .357

    J. Farmar K. Bryant R. Artest 59 109:36 .538
    D. Fisher K. Bryant R. Artest 207 740:48 .279

    J. Farmar L. Odom R. Artest 77 177:23 .434
    D. Fisher L. Odom R. Artest 103 468:24 .219

    J. Farmar K. Bryant P. Gasol 45 132:14 .340
    D. Fisher K. Bryant P. Gasol 150 522:09 .287

    J. Farmar K. Bryant L. Odom 61 251:31 .242
    D. Fisher K. Bryant L. Odom 138 643:00 .214

    J. Farmar R. Artest A. Bynum 28 112:14 .249
    D. Fisher R. Artest A. Bynum 147 609:07 .241

    J. Farmar L. Odom A. Bynum 29 174:34 .166
    D. Fisher L. Odom A. Bynum 76 460:04 .165

    D. Fisher L. Odom P. Gasol 73 233:46 .312
    J. Farmar L. Odom P. Gasol 49 170:30 .287

    D. Fisher K. Bryant A. Bynum 180 736:52 .244
    J. Farmar K. Bryant A. Bynum 34 167:59 .202

    Even with Farmar’s poor decision making he is clearly the better option at this point. Phil should start him with the caveat that he has to run the offense properly. Since this is his contract year he has a huge incentive to cooperate.


  6. Dave

    I agree with the numbers but did they show what the numbers were with Farmar, Brown, Kobe, Ron Ron, and Pau in at the same time? I made a mistake up top by substituting Lamar for Ron Ron, but this line-up helps Farmar become more effective.


  7. I don’t think they play that lineup very much. I don’t see it on the list. They only list the top 50 lineups for each category.
    The closest I can find is Farmar/Bryant/Artest/Gasol. This lineup is off the charts. It has outscored opponents by 35 points in 36 minutes.

    The 5 man lineups tend not to be as useful because they don’t have enough minutes played. The 2 man lineups aren’t as accurate because they don’t isolate well who is playing with whom.

    The 3 and 4 man lineups are the most accurate. They all seem to point to the same conclusions. Fisher’s good stats are due to playing almost exclusively with our good players. Farmar has done surprisingly well with the starters, significantly better than Fisher (especially with Artest). Brown can play decently as a shooting guard but has done poorly as a point guard.


  8. Thanks Dave. Thorough as always.


  9. A minor point I want to make is that PER is going to be a bad way for us to measure our PG effectiveness because assists factor heavily into the PER of other PG’s around the league, but triangle PG’s just are not going to have equivalent assist levels to those other PG’s that play in standard offenses.

    3pt shooting and defense are what matter to us from that position. Though unfortunately they tell pretty much the same story.


  10. I am not sure we are looking at a “long term solution” – probably more like a 3 year solution given the contracts of Pau, Bynum, Artest and (hopefully soon) Kobe.

    So with that in mind, may I dare to suggest that the ultimate PG insurance for the Lakers is really Kobe. He can run the offense blindfolded and play the little guards, if no other PG emerges form this rotation. Yes you are playing with fire by giving the reins of the offense to the one person most likely to break out of the offense, but maybe Kobe will relish the PG role as he ages (maybe you sell it to him as a quasi player-coach, which is something that Michael Jordan did not do). Of course Kobe cannot keep up with the little waterbugs but actually most of the little guards these days are the ones you want shooting J’s not penetrating anyways. Maybe except Jennings.

    Also, over the aforementioned 3 year period, it will be easier to find a defense first +3pt swingman who can feed the post occassionally, than a PG with some talent who can be happy with the triangle. Maybe we already have such a player in Shannon Brown (if he can learn to feed the post – although I note that he does stop to do this even when things are going well for him, unlike Farmar who starts to lose control when either something goes right or wrong for him).

    And remember that Kobe essentially played PG during the 3peat when we had decent inside presence and consistent clutch outside shooting (Fisher early in his career was essentially a Shannon Brown, a PG sized guard with athleticism, hustle and a developing shot but no true PG skills).

    I am of the philosophy that when you need extra skills but cannot play 6 on 5 or land another good player to replace a bad one, just ask your superstars to do more.


  11. Well, the regular Fisher bashing has begun. This time, basically there are three arguments against Fish and for putting on more minutes for Farmar/ Brown :

    1) Fish’s PER is bad
    2) Fish sucks at 3pts
    3) Fish sucks on defense

    While they are facts, I did find 1) and 2) to be non-reasons for demoting Fisher. 3) is more valid on paper and I shall deal with it later. Here’s my take :

    1) It is well-known that PER only captures a fraction of the game, but I still want to re-hash it. PER cares about the play before a shot (assist), the shot (make or brick, and hence shooting efficiency) and the play after the shot (block or rebound). Then any glaring mistakes (TOs, steals), and nothing else. I am not surprised that Fisher is deficient in PER against opposing teams because :
    a) Fish just shoot a lot less than opposing PGs, period. He attempts less than 7 shots a game, or about 8% of possessions. If you have this plethora of above-average-to-outright-devastating weapons that Lakers have, namely Kobe, Ron Ron, Pau, Drew and Lamar, would you rather Fish to shoot or pass?
    b) Triangle. Unlike 29 other teams, PGs on Lakers do not assist much. Why? Because Fish either initiates the entry pass, and then the post player either dribble and finish (which would not count as an assist), or kick out for an open shooter (counts as an assist to the post guy)

    2) My point is, while I agree Fisher sucks at his 3s, IT DOES NOT MATTER, much. It is because of :
    a) Lakers’ plethora of weapons
    b) Lakers need his DECISION much more than his SCORING. Let’s do the math : Fish shoots 35.5% at 3pt this season, we say he should shoot 40%, then it is 4.5% deficient. He attempts about 3 per game this season. Let’s say he should attempt 5 if he shoots 40%. Then the differential is 5 x 4.5%, which is an extra 0.225 make per game, so it is about 0.675 points per game.
    Let’s say Farmar/ Brown brain farts 1 possession every 4, which seems to be fair. Fisher plays 27 mins, so he is responsible for about 50 possessions (assume 90 per game). So with Fish we get better decisions in 50 x 1/4 = 12.5 possessions compared with completely replacing Fisher. Let’s say 30% of such better decisions lead to baskets, then it is 12.5 x 30% x 2pts = 7.5pts.
    Now you see the point? While Fisher is not the primary weapon, his 3pts DOES need to be respectable to opposing PGs, which I think is sufficient at this point, albeit barely.

    3) I agree his defense is deficient, but I say he DOES NOT suck as much as suggested by PER. Yes, he is DEAD slow compared to Aaron Brooks, or Chris Paul, or Rondo. No question. But watch him play, you know he plays SMART. He knows how to body up on opposing guards (Fish is still strong, mind you) to block off the obvious driving lane, and push them to help defenders.

    I am not even mentioning the intangibles such as swagger, leadership, etc.

    The point that the Reed analysis ticks me off the most is that, obviously, he wrote that piece WITHOUT watching the games!!! I have been watching recent Lakers games, and Fish has been solid. He was energetic in Q1 in the game against Orlando. He pushes Jameer Nelson to respect him. He make minimal mistakes. While he is not perfect, I do see him as the best alternative we have. Even if we can pull the Harris trade with Ammo/ Brown/ Farmar, I do not see him losing his starting job this year. Lakers, as distinct a team as it is, still needs Fisher.


  12. I’m not opposed to giving Sasha a chance; a couple of years ago I thought that he would be getting a fair amount of time at PG by now.

    I think consideration should be given to playing Kobe at PG, with Brown at SG.

    Yes, it’s clearly not his natural position, but it looks to me like it’s the best solution with the current roster.


    • Guys, I am killing the Harris speculation, which went on yesterday. Bucher’s Laker sources historically suck. He is the only one with this (the Hoopsworld article is Eric Pincus — love him but he loves to talk trades — speculating on why, maybe, the Nets could want to move Harris, and even he thinks it is unlikely and does not offer new proof this is being discussed). I made a comment in the last thread about why I don’t think it will work, but Harris BS is not going to take over this thread. That topic is done until I see someone I trust say those talks are happening, or I hear it myself.


  13. Exhelodvr,

    The problem with the Kobe at the 1 solution is that we still have no one on the defensive end to stop fast PG’s. We definitely don’t want Kobe doing it and Shannon is not getting it done defensively. I’m sure we all could agree that if we had a PG that could play lockdown D and was able to pass the ball that player would get the majority of the minutes (we don’t need another shooter). Until we get one of those, we will have this problem.


  14. I’m pretty much done with Sasha but I think if he MUST be trotted out there Phil has the right idea in trying to make him play the 1 for us

    All back up 2 minutes should go to WOW, imo

    By the way, I’m assuming this is not a trade thread but I think with the PG position those two (unfortunately?) come hand in hand. The three “best” PG trade rumors involve taking on contracts using our expirings: Hinrich, Calderon, Harris.

    If I might make a suggestion, maybe a thread in the future might be dedicated to the rumors and hypothesizing potential trades (note: I am not a fan of mid-season trades for contenders unless it is Gasol-like, and I think many reasonable fans agree); there might even be a need for two threads. One for trades that take on salary and one for trades that don’t.


  15. Kobe can’t handle the ball well enough presently for him to have ceremonial point duties. Internally, it’s Jordan or Sasha or miracle de-ager for Derek.


  16. I’m not really gonna pass an opinion on this thread. But I will say that if we had a better option than Fish, the best coach in the history of the game would be smart enough to start him.

    And I don’t buy the argument that Phil is loyal to Fish, hence his reluctance to bench him. Phil loves Fish, but has benched him in the past.


  17. Jim,
    Kobe would not be ideal for fast PGs, but his length would allow him to play off them more than Fisher or Farmar, thus neutralizing their speed somewhat. He definitely wouldn’t be my preferred choice; I just think it’s the best solution given the current roster.

    Kobe is a good enough ball handler if they give him help bringing the ball up.


  18. Kurt, not only is Buchers info not reliable, Harris makes no sense anyways. We don’t need another player that likes to dominate the ball, we need one to defend, shoot open shots, and initiate the offense.


  19. #11. A really interesting post, with an unnecessary personal shot at the end. A
    good attempt to estimate the good decision making piece.

    From what I’ve seen this year, the offense has bogged down mainly due to lack of off-ball cutting (resonating badly with too much iso play) and too much shooting early in the clock. Fish has contributed to the early shots, but isn’t responsible for the lack of movement.

    Defense-wise, to my eye, Fish has played adequately and seems to stick best to the team plan, funneling and shading well.

    But in the end… Is any team above average at every position? And more to the point, I think it’s not clear if the pg situation is a big enough weakness to hurt the playoff run. The Cavs really exploited our PGs. I don’t think BOS, DAL, and DEN can. ORL’s Jameer seems to have regressed his year. Team D held HOU down (I throw them in as a wild card since if they move Mcgrady for a star, they could be scary). Parker will probably be too hampered by injuries to ever be the quicksilver of old.

    Today’s game will be very interesting to see if te Cavs bully us at PG again.


  20. All this conversation doesn’t take into account that Phil runs this team to develop certain skills and talents, based on the situation. Fish’s big advantage is that he knows pretty much everything Phil is trying to do – he is like a coach on the floor.

    I too get frustrated when he breaks the offense, but all players do this occasionally and Phil takes this into account.

    Farmar has been with us four years and, while he is still learning, his proclivities are pretty much set. He is still fighting the system some of the time and I find this a fatal flaw in his potential for our team.

    Shannon Brown is another matter however. He has only been in this system a year and has shown a willingness to adapt to our way of doing things. His problems are his instincts can betray him in our system. Phil is training Shannon to handle the SG and some PG work – two positions that have different objectives in the triangle.

    I think Shannon is doing quite well and am willing to give him some more rope – without bringing in someone to replace him for his PG duties. He needs to continue to learn, even if there are mistakes that could cost us a game or two. We fans aren’t willing to take that chance, but that is one key difference between us and Phil.

    Stop with the statistics and let’s concentrate on the learning – gradual learning, not instantaneous improvement.


  21. MWL20 – great post. I appreciate your well-reasoned defense of Fisher.

    Given the level of talent of our top five players and given the triangle, I don’t see how a ‘good’ point guard would even fit on this team. Everyone needs more touches, we don’t need another guy who needs the ball a lot. Of course, we could use with an upgrade on defense, but who and at what price?

    I would also say that it is probably more important to have a scorer and play maker with the second unit than the first. Honestly, it would seem that is where you want your better PG playing on this team.


  22. Conundrum or solution?

    Let’s not compare apples to oranges. The Lakers run the triangle and allow Kobe to improvise off of it–there is little to no interest in a dominating point guard to shoot, drive, and dish.

    There is a need for someone to show character and leadership–providing the intangibles and glue that make the Lakers winners. Derek provides all of that, and can do most anything when needed. Just recently, Derek led the early attack on Orlando. In another game, Derek led the Lakers in rebounds.

    Jordan can be brought in to play the more traditional PG role–which he does almost too well at times–but in the spirit of the triangle. Jordan can also be a better defender against the fast PG’s at times. Shannon sometimes provides the size and strength on defense that Jordan and Derek lack, Deferring to Kobe for part of the PG role. Sasha stands in reserve, having demonstrated a knack for the job on a few occassions. Fish’s upside can be protected with fewer minutes.

    Fisher seems cool in times of crisis, and his needed three point shots at the end of games are legendary–though his defense against fast breeaks or just his warrior persona often are remarkable as well.

    All of these players have now worked together in many combinations. Collectively and in various roles, they are exactly what the Lakers need at this time.

    Despite apparently attractive potential improvements, changes are very risky.

    What the Lakers have is working just fine. The Lakers have lost only 9 games this season.

    If it ain’t broke–don’t fix it.


  23. off topic (sort of):
    CLEVELAND — Cavaliers starting point guard Mo Williams will miss Thursday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers with a sprained left shoulder. [AP]


  24. Shaun (from the last thread) – here are a few tips that have worked for me in getting pictures, autographs, etc. First, it helps if you know where the team usually stays. The team uses the same hotel when they visit most cities. I don’t know where it is for most, but you can find out if you know the right people or just follow the media buzz. If you can work your way into hanging around outside or the lobby you can usually score a quick autograph. Second – realize the easiest way to meet players is during the middle of the day 11am to 3pm when they don’t have shootarounds or if they go out for lunch or just to see the city. I met Trevor and J Powell this way last year. Third, if you can’t do the first two, get into the arena as early as possible. Each arena is different, but in most cases if you have tickets to the lower level you might be able to get close, but don’t go near the court – go near the tunnel where the players enter. My son was able to score a picture and autograph this way. A few other tips – ask politely and ask everyone. While I don’t have a Kobe autograph or picture, my son and I have most of the rest of the team and some former Lakers – Mark Madsen and AC Green were great with this stuff. Have a Sharpie or pen handy and just ask for them to sign one item. Remember, there here to play, not to sign a million autographs. I hope this helps you out.


  25. I appreciate Fisher for being a starter on 4 (FOUR!) Laker championship teams, and always being a quality guy and teammate. And while his physical abilities have declined somewhat, compromising what he can sometimes do on the floor, it’s what he doesn’t do–make mistakes–that make him so valuable.

    We all bemoan his PUJITs, in that they’re in the “No…no….YES!” category, but I think that’s the role the coaching staff has told him to play in the offense at times, in order to keep his defender honest, and save Kobe from immediate doubles on the perimeter every trip down the floor. He’s too smart a player and Phil too smart a coach to allow that to keep happening if that’s not what they want to see, much like Lamar’s uptick in 3-point shooting this season–he’s only a decent 3-point shooter (I remember him hitting more as a Clipper), but it frees up the big guys inside, and opens driving lanes for Lamar.

    We’re focusing on tactics, the team appears to be focusing on strategy, specifically playoff strategy. Look at the larger goal and the smaller moves start to make sense.

    In that way, Fisher is almost the inverse of the “good player on a bad team” cliche, he’s the bad player on a good team, but inexplicably they are less successful (numbers aside–the offense runs more smoothly with him on the floor, even if his stats suck) without him. Anyone mind if I coin the “Fisher Theory” as the backwards “Ewing Theory”? ‘Cause I think I just did.

    Treading lightly over to trades, after the big deals of the past few years and the absolute radio silence that surrounded them all before they actually went down, I don’t believe a single rumor from anyone (particularly Bucher). If they’re going to make a move, we’ll never hear about it. Which is good–if we get two weeks of rumors we’ll go through loving the trade, hating the trade, hating the player, loving the other team’s GM, worrying about luxury tax and re-signing free agents, projecting future trades that would ruin the team to dump salary, and then loving the trade again, then it doesn’t happen and we’re all left a little…disappointed.

    What I’m saying is that I rather enjoy discussing the team without indulging in endless trade talk, although abstract discussions about why I dislike trade talk can be fun sometimes.


  26. Kobe at point guard is flat out a bad idea. Aside from the problems with his finger limiting his ball handling ability, I haven’t been impressed with Kobe’s pick-n-roll defense the past couple seasons. When he gets picked he is completely taken out of the play and doesn’t make a good attempt at trying to recover.

    I personally think the Lakers are showcasing Farmer for potential trade bait. He is playing well lately but I would caution getting fooled by his play lately as Sasha played very well in his contract year. I really think Shannon Brown is the answer at point guard. I think he’s the better shooter and defender of the 3 (Brown, Farmer & Fisher) and would save the Lakers money if we decide not to resign Farmer and Fisher next season.


  27. Richard Harris was a pretty good actor.


  28. sorry for the O/T, but for some reason, opening fb&g causes Opera 10.10 to max out one of my CPU cores and makes Opera nearly non-responsive. does anyone else have this problem


  29. @luubi, upgrade to Opera 10.20 Alpha (the 10.50 pre-Alpha is still pretty unstable), I have no problems at all. Ignore their scary “known issues”, it’s very very stable.


  30. I agree with Ray, it ain’t broke. Point guard isn’t the problem (except defending quick point guards like Chris Paul or Aaron Brooks – but most teams can’t defend those guys under the current rules anyway).

    The real problem is not having a 2 or 3 off the bench that can put points on the board, night in, night out.

    Actually, I wish we could have signed both Artest and Ariza last summer. Ariza and Kobe at the guard spots? Oh well, back to reality.


  31. Actually, comment 31 was not anonymous, but was ever friendly poster “inwit”. For some reason my info was not in the “leave a reply” boxes.


  32. Bucher’s report basically came down to “The Lakers called the Nets.” I don’t find that too insane to believe, I just don’t think its that newsworthy. Its a GM’s responsibility to keep tabs on other teams and players. But Bucher (and Vecsey before him) never stated “the teams were talking.” Just that someone had called the other for whatever reason.


  33. Great analysis. I think it is time to see if Farmar can do it or not. Let him get more time with the starting unit, and see how he does. That said I am not impressed with his defensive abilities, and this is what we need more than points out of the position. As for when we play great PG’s I actually do like Shannon or Kobe guarding them better than Fish or Farmar. Both Kobe and Shannon use their length much better where Fish and Farmar have no physical attributes to help them cover quick penetrating guards. As for Farmar, I think the irony with him is that he does better in a more traditional PG position than with the triangle where dribble penetration and two man game plays more of a factor than spot up shooting (his biggest weakness).


  34. I think almost agree that our PG should be upgraded. Clearly, Farmar, Brown, and Fisher trio is not the situation we fans are not happy about. However, due to Sasha and Walton’s bad contracts, it’s impossible for the team to make a trade without adding a significant salary not only for this year, but also the next two years. Furthermore, Sasha and Walton are almost impossible to trade because their skill sets are not that attractive outside of triangle offense AND their are overpaid.

    I think Kurt put this post up because there is so much interest in talking about or rather criticizing our starting PG, who is probably the worst starting PG in the league. We would love to see change because we would be almost unbeatable if we got better play out of that position. However, the Lakers still have best record in the league AND there’s really no clear solution to the problem. If Farmar or Brown start at PG, Fisher becomes almost worthless as he will be playing with the second unit. If he is performing badly with the starters, do you think he’ll play better with the second unit? I don’t think so. Phil Jackson probably knows this and probably thinks that the best way to use Fisher is to start him and give him limited minutes based on multiple factors, such as the matchup, Farmar and Brown’s play, scores, and etc…

    We know that Fisher can play some horrible basketball at times letting the opposing PG to have career games against us, but he’s had his moments where his clutch shooting and defense have helped us to pull out some close game wins. I, too, wish Hinrich, Harris, or Calderon was on the team, but Buss won’t spend anymore than we need to at this point. Perhaps, if the Lakers get torched by Rondo or Lawson in the playoffs and lose in the Playoffs, Buss will spend money to upgrade. But I don’t think Buss will do that because he may think that we already have the best team in the league that should repeat if everyone’s healthy. Also, this road trip will give us better idea about how good our team really is. If the team goes 4-4 or worse, I’m sure the front office will explore trade possibility since the likely reason for our losing would fall on Fisher and other PGs.

    BTW, Ramon Sessions makes 3.7 million this year, and I’m sure we could get someone in his caliber next year in FA market.


  35. It is too much to hope for a trade that will make a serious upgrade. Ammo and Dfish do have good expiring contracts, but giving up Fisher for a point guard who isn’t familiar with the system? No way. Given the fact that the Lakers are the favorites to win it all this year, it would take huge amounts of risk tolerance to even upgrade the point guard position.

    This, by the way, is why I argued in the off season that the Lakers should sign Ariza to play the point. I like his defense against opposing PGs at least as much as that of any of our point guards’. He can shoot the three as well as any of our point guards. He is in his early twenties. He can run. he is able to play the wing.

    If he dindn’t work out at point, you could run a three man wing rotation of Kobe/Artest/Ariza that would be as strong as the Pau/’Drew/Lamar troika in the interior.

    The general response to the idea was “you can’t do that,” but the only explanation of why you can’t do it was that he can’t bring the ball up. Seriously? When was the last time an NBA team ran a press defense? This isn’t under 10’s here. NBA teams kill you when you pressure the ball enough to make a difference. I’m guessing that Lamar or Kobe could make it out of the back court in 8 seconds or less if push comes to shove. In the end, I think it was just the money thing. Too bad we don’t have a billionaire or MSG to take the losses. It is so hard to collect talent in the NBA, it just kills me to let Trevor walk with nothing in return.

    So, I think this is it, folks. Last year, the thing that set the Lakers apart from the other contenders was that they took their dominant offense and added an elite level of defense to it. Here we are, well into the year, and the Lakers D looks great. But their offense has lost its luster. Is Kobe doing too much? Are they failing to integrate RonRon? Do the PGs all horribly suck? Um, yeah, I think so to all of that.

    Let’s get some easy baskets people.


  36. Guys like Bucher, Vecsey, wield so much “power” around this time of the year, when trade winds are in full effect. Everything they say has to be taken with a grain of salt – they have to sell papers, have posts, etc., so it benefits them sometimes to make these ridiculous trade propositions to generate hits.

    I do like the concept of the 3-headed PG. Too bad a hybrid could not be put together utilizing the disparate elements of each of the contributors. I just can’t see the Lakers tinkering heavily with the PG position right now given its complexities and given the Lakers time table of trying to repeat right now. I suppose we will simply have to table the question of Fisher’s replacement until the summer and milk the most out of the three-headed PG. I do expect Fisher’s minutes to decrease to about 20 minutes this season, letting Farmar play about 20-22 minutes and Brown picking up the rest given matchups and all.


  37. For all the praise everyone is giving Fisher here (nice change of pace, btw), there’s one more thing that has only been hinted but not flat out stated: He might be the only one on the team who is as clutch as Kobe, or maybe more. To have that mental poise and focus when we desperately need it is pretty important too, I think.


  38. 27. Rudy

    I couldn’t agree more. Kobe’s fingers are a wreck. He fumbles the ball too much now with that white bandage.

    31. inwit

    I have that same dream too. I wish we could have had both. That would have placed us on par with Orlando and the Cavs as the best bench in the NBA. Ariza, Odom, Farmar, Brown, Walton, Sasha, and Mbenga (Powell and Ammo) are left off on purpose.


  39. Chownoir (was J) January 21, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Here’s an interesting read on Javaris Crittendon. Possible camp invite for next year and long term solution?

    Low Risk, high reward gamble. You’re not asking him to be an all star, just a high IQ dependable PG. He may not be a commodity that other teams want to take on. But why wouldn’t Lakers take a chance on him given his history here and supposedly he liked being a Laker. Throw in the redemption angle and being able to play for Phil and an offense he’s familiar with, I just don’t see the downsides to looking at him if he’s available after this year.


  40. I wonder if Houston will trade Ariza to us for Ammo? Just kidding. Or am I???(Sarcasm)


  41. Chownoir

    I’ve begged for this for months. I read both articles this morning but forgot to post them. Kobe really liked this kid. He took him under his wing and was real disappointed that he HAD to go inorder to get Pau. We can’t get Trevor back, so what about J Crit as Farmar insurance. If he doesn’t get any dirt from the Arenas bs, he can surely be had for a trade exception. I like him because has alot of Kobe’s quality. He’s big (at 6’5″) and has skills. Plus he has passion.


  42. @41 because we get Pau Gasol in exchange?


  43. Crittendon’s going to have to deal with this gun matter first. Depending upon his role, that makes his NBA future dicey.

    Also, while he seemed like he had some potential in spot minutes in L.A., you have to question why he’s never done much more at his subsequent NBA stops. Maybe he’s not as talented as he suggested in glimpses while a Laker?

    As for this season, this thread is again noting the Lakers’ apparent need of an outside shooter to spread the floor.

    I’ve written many times recently that too often the offense is playing two on five, with Kobe and either of Bynum or Pau (whichever is in the post) the only two players who really warrant guarding.

    Pau’s got to start knocking down his 15-18 foot shots (like he always had before this season) to open up the inside, which would help a ton. Artest needs to just roam the three-point line and find open spots like Ariza did late last year. And perhaps more time at the 1 for Sasha is the right move — if he can knock down enough jumpers to command the D’s attention, it would do wonders for the team’s flow.

    Phil has to see this need, so perhaps he’s tried this Sasha as PG approach and not liked the results in practice? It’s too obvious a move for it not to have already occurred in game action, unless there’s more to the story we don’t know as fans.


  44. @ 40, 42…totally agree about JCritt. However, given the uncertainties regarding his legal situation, would the Lakers even entertain any moves to get him? I was very sad to see him go, and eventually get stuck in Washington where the whole lockeroom situation seems to always be dicey (see Haywood v. Thomas, see crazy Arenas v. Stevenson for $$$ in a game of 3 pointers, etc.)

    Critt is probably valued at an all-time low right now, but the upside may be there. I don’t know if he’s recently been battling injuries as well, but he’s definetely worth taking a look at as a realistic pick-up rather than the glitzy big-names that everyone seems to be throwing around.


  45. 27) I doubt Farmar will fool anybody into a big extension like Sasha did. Partly because Sasha’s extension was based on big shots in the playoffs, and partly because we just don’t have the $ like we did before new contracts for Drew, LO, Ron, ect.


  46. A little point guard math, focused purely on field goal shooting.

    Right now, Fisher + Farmar combine to shoot 39.1% on 13.2 shot attempts per game; they combine to shoot 35% on 4.4 three attempts per game; they combine for 12.2 points from field goals per game.

    Now replace them with a below average but serviceable shooting point guard. If Fisher and Farmar shot the same number of attempts at the same % as the 30th best PG in the league (Acie Law at 44.4%) and the 30th best three point shooting point guard (DJ Augustin at 36.8%), they would combine to average 13.7 points from field goals per game — an added 1.5 points per game.

    Now replace them with an above average (but not elite) shooting point guard. If Fisher and Farmar shot the same number of attempts at the same % as the 15th best PG (Felton at 46.8%) and as the 15th best 3 point shooting PG (Blake at 40.1%), they would combine to average 14.5 points from field goals per game — an added 2.3 points per game.

    In other words, just having our point guards shoot at an average clip would generate 1.5-2.3 more points per game. Just from that improvement alone we would again be one of the better teams in offensive efficiency and would massively distance ourselves from the pack in terms of team scoring differential. And, of course, we’d win more games.


  47. I’m not sold on Crittenton as a player. What little time he played as a Laker he looked nervous and confused, and shot about 22%. Everything on paper on him seems good–played the triangle in college, very smart, good size, good athleticism, and Truehoop had a positive post on him today too, but I fear he’s like Kwame Brown–he looks like an NBA player, and people think he’s an NBA player, but he may not be.


  48. @47 I think that because of Kobe present. Some people just lose it around greatness.


  49. As a follow up, while a triangle team does not need a traditional playmaking (high assist) point guard to be successful, having a strong shooter is critical. That shooting creates the spacing you need to run all of your post sets.

    Remember the old Bulls teams, which were elite offensive machines. They did not have traditional point guards, but they always had strong shooting from the point.

    In 1996, Steve Kerr shot 50% from the field and 52% from three. Harper also played minutes at point and shot well from the field, even if he was a poor three point shooter.

    In 1993, BJ Armstrong shot 50% from the field and 45%, and John Paxson shot 45% from the field and 46% from three.

    Last year Fisher shot 42 and 40%.


  50. On Farmar. The guy absolutely rubs me the wrong way personality-wise.

    However, I think I see signs of hope in his play. He has started to find a couple of niches in the offense to get his shots. I think in the past (and still a little now), Farmar has this strong instinct to dribble penetrate. The triangle is almost always set up to have people in the post or have lanes for cutters, not for dribble drives. Farmar in the past tried to get the drive options going, like the two-man weak-side stuff, but I don’t think that has been that successful for him.

    Now I think he’s having a little success using the two-man game as a pick-and-pop (say to Powell when he’s dialed in). Furthermore, he’s working that little option of passing to a post, using the post as a screen to get free for a little jump shot above the screen. There’s also that little move of dribbling off the high elbow screen to either a floating baseline jumper or to the basket and reversing it in.

    Does he still take too many early shots? Does he break the Zen flow of the triangle? Yes. But I believe I see him trying to use the triangle to get himself good shots as opposed to trying to penetrate using sheer speed and gall.


  51. anyone with insider able to read the Hollinger article on Kobe and reaching 25,000 points?


  52. Javaris Crittendon? Seriously. Javaris Crittendon? Why do folks keep mentioning him? He’s never had one full solid season and he had a half season of limited minutes with the Lakers and people here swear he’s the next coming of Chris Paul.

    Folks – he’s been with three teams in two years and never cracked the starting rotation. Add to that a possible gun charge and his current stats on a team with ONE true PG, and you get the picture that this guy is third or fourth option at best.

    Seriously, give the Javaris Crittendon bandwagon a rest.


  53. I can do that when I get out of work, ian. I’ll come back here and rub it in as soon as I have a chance 🙂


  54. Hollinger breaks it down by odds (for some reason) and gives Kobe a 45% chance of making it (assuming 5 years at his current production level), LeBron at 33.5% (but he has to produce at the same level for the next 10 years, which is a little less likely than Kobe doing the same for just 5), and lays out the odds for Carmelo and Kevin Durant at about 10 and 16% respectively.

    Personally, I think Kobe plays at least 7 more years, so even with 2-3 seasons near the end of decreased production (say 20 ppg), he could conceivably exceed Kareem’s total by 2000 points or so, meaning he has a chance to be the first 40k scorer. A lot of things have to go right, but it’s possible.


  55. Fish would be benched on any other team, but I believe Phil keeps him around to keep Kobe happy, and a happy Kobe is more important than PER or any other stat.

    Besides every few games D fish takes a horrible pull up j in transition and makes it, giving us the energy we need that game.


  56. @ 49 jb

    J Critt was a rookie. He was only a Laker for 8 months. The guy had to prove is worth on the court. Not many rookies can come into the game and look like established veterans. Farmar didn’t, Bynum didn’t, not even Kobe did it.

    @ 45 Chris J

    Read the article, Memphis was stacked at the point so he was learning a new system and he was still in his rookie year. He still played well enough to average 7.4 a game in 18 minutes. Since he wasn’t a starter, the next year he was expendable, so off he went to Washington.

    He averaged 5.3 with 2.6 dimes in his first year at Washington State Penn playing in his third system in 3 years. He’s not a God, but his numbers are not that bad for a guy who has been forced into one bad situation after another.



  57. What I have been wondering about, is why has Fisher been shooting so poorly from 3 point range? As Reed said, he has a lot of open looks. This is a guy who has always been a solid 3 point shooter, and even still today hits big 3 pointers in crunch time. It may be age, but do you generally see such a big drop off in that particular stat do to age?


  58. it could be related to failing eyesight.


  59. Chownoir (was J) January 21, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    Hmm, I don’t recall saying Javaris is a savior or even for this year. Said it was a low risk, high reward situation. Guys sometimes just get squeezed due to numbers. Javaris in Memphis and Wash got stuck behind guys. He played decently in limited stints. Trevor bounced around and couldn’t get minutes. I loved that pickup and my friends laughed at me. I said it was low risk/high reward.

    With Lakers cash situation, you have to take gambles like that. Whether it be a D league guy or a fringe guy on another roster. It’s all about their skills fitting the system. You’re not going to sign guys to MLE to fill the void, just not going to happen.

    All I said was that he’d be worth a camp invite next year as part of the ongoing search for long term answer to PG. By next year, the gun situation should be resolved.

    Heck, if you could get him for peanuts, why wouldn’t you take a shot at him? (ha!)


  60. Aren’t we due for a preview soon…? 🙂


  61. @55 Manny

    We are looking at a back-up. Would Walton, Ammo, JP, Mbenga, or Sasha last on any other team but ours? NO. Everyone but Walton would be out. Heck, Mbenga was out of the league!!

    Those of us who like him like him because he is 6’5″ (Phil likes big guards), knows our system, has great skills, and KOBE LIKES HIM!


  62. @ Chownoir

    AGREED. But why not this year as Farmar Insurance (pun intended) for next year? I think his part in the Arenas BS will be over soon. They have no evidence, just hearsay.


  63. Chownoir (was J) January 21, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    Oh and Manny, FWIW, after Critt got traded from that logjam in Memphis, he got a lot of playing time in Wash in 56 games.

    20 mins a game, shot 46%. 1.8 Assist to TO ratio. Almost a steal and 3 rebounds a game. His only noticeable weakness was lack of 3 pt shooting which would be a concern in the tri.

    Again, it’s worth taking a look at him once the gun situation is resolved and if no one else is interest. Get him for cheap.


  64. Building on Reed’s most recent comment (#51), this is where Ron still being green in our system hurts us a tad. In every single title winning season by a Triangle team, a player besides the PG has been either the main offensive initiator or the role was split between two to three players (including the PG). Pippen and Jordan were the main initiators with Pippen taking over primary duty (while somewhat sharing the role with Paxon/Armstrong/Harper) when Jordan evolved into more of a post player. Kobe was the main initiator during the Shaq years (while splitting the role with Fisher/Fox/Shaw). Last year, because of Bynum’s injury, Odom did a lot of initiating (while splitting that role with Kobe and Fisher).

    This season, Kobe is playing off the ball more and in the post more (and when he does bring the ball up it’s to run P&R or he’s focussed on getting his own shot) and Odom is on the bench. That means that we (somewhat) have to play Fisher with our starters because he’s the player that still runs our offense the best (despite his other weaknesses). And even though Farmar plays a lot of minutes with Odom (who *should* be a primary initiator of our sets), Farmar is still most comfortable with the ball in his hands where he can make decisions in the mold of a classic PG. Brown, for all his promise, is not ready to be an initiator, thus Phil has him playing SG.

    I circle back to Reed’s point and to Artest because right now not one of our PG’s is giving us enough of the needed combination of 3 point shooting/defense/ability to run our offense and while some of them do one or two of those things well, none of them do all of them. This relates to Artest because if he was more comfortable as an offensive initiator, we’d have more options at PG…maybe Sasha would get minutes there or Brown would step into that void (where their limitations in decision making could be covered up and their strengths in shooting (Sasha) and overall athleticism/movement in the offense (Brown) could be accentuated) . But right now (and, actually like last season too) if we want better execution on offense while removing Fisher from the lineup it means one of two things: 1). Play Brown or Sasha at PG, but do so knowing that either Walton (for Artest) and/or LO (for Bynum) will need to be paired with those guys. 2). Play Farmar more, but live with the fact that he’ll need the ball in his hands (to be comfortable) and he’ll freelance more than we’d like – and he’d be doing it with our core players on the floor paired with him (Kobe, Ron, and some mixture of LO/Pau/Bynum). To me, none of those options are really solutions – they just shift our issues around some. (We’d be less effective on D and in 3point shooting with Luke in for Ron and we’d also be losing some size with Odom in for Bynum while also risking some of the sulking issues that pop up when Bynum isn’t as involved. And with option 2, you lose cohesiveness on offense by replacing Farmar with Fish and some of our defensive issues at PG still remain.)


  65. thanks Mimsy & JB!


  66. Robert Horry’s numbers during our Championship run:

    ’99-00: 22.2 mpg, 5.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.6 apg, .438 fg%, .309 fg%
    ’00-01: 20.1 mpg, 5.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.6 apg, .387 fg%, .346 3fg%
    ’01-02: 26.4 mpg, 6.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.9 apg, .398 fg%, .374 3fg%

    Sometimes stats fail to capture the true value of a player…


  67. Chownoir,
    I am with you on the low risk, good upside part of signing Crit after this year. I don’t see any value of doing anything before July.

    For those who say they don’t see NBA potential – all I can say is that Shannon Brown was considered the throw-in in the Bobcat trade for a reason.

    The key to most players is which system they get into and which coaches/players surround them? Brown didn’t look good until he got into a system offense where he wasn’t responsible for getting his own shots, but others were responsible for passing him the ball. And he was expected to hustle back on defense, not go and get a rebound. Phil Jackson – and his system – tries to focus on a player’s strengths, not his athleticism (read Luke Walton here).

    Crit has years experience in triangle systems, but was traded to conventional systems in the Gasol trade. While we all hoped for success for him, the odds were stacked against him more than they were here.

    With Kobe behind him, a familiar system in front of him, and no real expectation – but lots of opportunity – this would seem the ideal place for him to land next…at least that’s what I would think if I were him.


  68. The point position is not going to be solved for LA, it will hover like an albatross over LA’s season as long as we keep the same roster. Until Fisher’s minutes are taken by some other player on the bench, all LA fans can do is pray that the rest of the 85 mil on the team will be able to take up the slack. Only time will tell if staying intact, or moving in another direction will cost us the ultimate goal at the end of the season.

    The talk of Fish being horrific and who his replacement will be was talked about at the beginning of the year, and we still dont have the anwser. All the stats and numbers crunched will draw us to the same conclusion that we knew at the start.



    1) “Nobody can guard great PG’s, Aaron Brooks can’t stay in front of Aaron Brooks”

    That might be the dumbest statement that a basketball fan can make!!!!! That is like saying “but nobody can guard Kobe.” But would you rather have Bruce Bowen guarding Kobe Bryant or Coby Karl? Against one player Kobe will score 45 on 70% shooting and against the other he will get 30 on 40% from the floor.

    2) “If Phil Jackson (best coach of all time) starts Fisher he must be the best PG for the job

    Phil Jackson started Luke Walton and Vlad Radmonivic over Trevor Ariza last year until after the all star break. Just because Phil is starting one guy now doesn’t mean he is planning to start him when the playoffs begin. And Phil Jackson also isn’t perfect… he is human. He can make bad decisions every now and again.

    3) “Farmar and Brown haven’t proven they can start”

    They have done everything possible besides starting to prove their worth. They have both outplayed Fisher while getting fewer and inconsistent minutes off the bench. 99% of players play much better while starting and getting consistent minutes with the first unit. Case in point Jordan Farmar last post season against the Rockets. He wasn’t playing well in the playoffs and then gets to start because Fisher was suspended and he went on to play a better overall game in that contest than Fisher had starting the entire playoffs. It was the only game the Lakers won in Houston… and Rockets fans (me included) believe if Fisher played in that game Houston would have won that series.

    That being said… there is 1% of me that believes Fisher should still be in the Lakers rotation. That piece of me has watched Fisher play his but off on 4 Laker championship teams and feels we owe Fisher the chance to play on a championship Lakers team because sometimes life isn’t about winning and losing… its about the journey. And the journey will always be more fun with Derek Fisher walking next to you.


  70. I don’t know who it was that said it earlier, but despite our weakness at the PG position, we’ve still only lost 9 games this year. While it’s extremely aggravating and frustrating to watch at times our record and the players we have on the other positions combine to this being a source of frustration for the fans a lot more than a reason for panic in the front office.


  71. 54) Manny,
    “Javaris Crittendon? Seriously. Javaris Crittendon? Why do folks keep mentioning him?”

    A shot in the dark?


  72. >we’ve still only lost 9 games this year.

    we’re about to get a better idea on this as the Road Trip progresses.


  73. Guys,

    I’m still not sold on Javaris Crittendon. Sorry, but what I see in him so far is nothing more than an option for the league minimum IF and ONLY IF Fish, Farmar or Brown walk away this summer. Sorry, but athletic or not, he’s not an improvement on Farmar or Brown.

    But, I can respect that we disagree. After all, I’m speaking from my gut more than anything else. That’s why I love this forum. We can have both points of view here without resulting to insults like in other places. Anyway, on to the game!


  74. I don’t care how old Fish is, I don’t understand why he’s such an attrocious shooter this year.

    The triangle point guard is afforded WIDE OPEN three point opportunities that come off a kick out, with his feet set.

    How is he missing these shots? We know he’s “clutch” so it can’t be the pressure, right?

    Seriously, how come Fish can’t hit wide open shots anymore?


  75. What about devin harris for farmar, sasha, and morrison? There has been talk about this.


  76. We have our pt guard already Phil is a line up guru he hasnt showed any one our trump hand yet because teams would make major moves if they knew what was coming but if you watch the games as some of you say u do how is it i havent heard anyone talk about the pt guard from Rhode Island who also played Pt for the Clippers who wants to play the position anyway hince he is the one who brings the ball up and sets us up in our offense Lamar at the pt Kobe 2guard Ron small f Pau Big f Drew the middle now i know your worried about the bench but dont we start rotations jus for breathers for players cause with our ultimate line up i dont see any team being able to match that five and if you know of one let me know cause i dont know any teams that can guard Lamar at the pt Kobe would have to go in the post less since all rebounds are ours if they dont get sucked down and they can get back on transition defense i dont see why Phil would go away from his big line ups check your Bulls and Lakers history Phil knows what he is doin and he wouldnt wait this long if he didnt already know he has what he needs if he thought we couldnt put a winner on the floor with this group changes would have already been made by now Kobe wants it now and the all star cast around him want have to do more than usual to help him wait til everyone is clicking which hasnt happend yet which should scare the rest of the league holla