How Trades Affect the Lakers

Darius Soriano —  February 19, 2010

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If the playoffs were to start today, the Lakers would face Portland in the first round.  And if the first round held its form with the higher seeds winning the series and advancing to the next round, the Lakers would then face Dallas.  If we extrapolate this same line of thinking to the Conference Finals, the Lakers would face Denver and then in the Finals the Lakers would face the Cavs.  It just so happens that three of those four teams pulled off trades in the past week that were aimed at strenghthening their roster for the stretch run of the regular season and into the playoffs.  So, at this point, I think it’s wise to look at the trades that those three teams made and how they affect their roster (and a matchup with the Lakers).  We’ll start in the first round and then move forward.

Portland:  Portland traded Steve Blake and Travis Outlaw for Marcus Camby.  This was a natural move for the Blazers as it relieved them of players that were crowding their rotations at both PG and SF (Blake at PG and Outlaw at SF) and opened up time for players that they are quite high on in Jerryd Bayless, Martell Webster, and Nic Batum.  When you combine that with the injury status of Greg Oden and Joel Pryzbilla and the chance to acquire Marcus Camby, this deal becomes a no brainer.  Camby is still a very effective player that rebounds well, plays very good team defense, and is a capable offensive player that does not force shots nor need the ball very often to be effective on that end of the floor.

In a match up with the Lakers, an addition of Camby means that the Blazers have more than Juwan Howard and LaMarcus Aldridge to throw at a front line of Odom/Pau/Bynum.  As you can imagine, slowing down the Lakers frontline is key to any series with the defending champs.  Yes, Kobe is the engine of this team; he is the unquestioned leader and the player that every teams defensive schemes revolve around.  But, as the Lakers showed against Utah, San Antonio, and Orlando, if you can not contain the Lakers frontline you do not have a chance at victory.  Only Denver came close to taking the Lakers bigs out of their game(s), but even they eventually succumb to them as Kobe’ brilliance caused double teams that the Lakers’ bigs exploited again and again with cuts to the middle of the floor where they either got easy buckets or moved the ball to an open shooter on the weakside.  If Portland is going to slow the Lakers big and turn Kobe into a volume scorer with little help from his mates, Camby’s presence is definitely needed as the Blazers stable of big men would not be nearly enough to battle LO, Pau, and ‘Drew over a seven game series.

My prognosis? I don’t think Camby gives them enough over the course of a series.  Though he is a very good defensive center whose rebounding skills would limit the Lakers second chance points, I still think he lacks the girth to battle Bynum underneath and would not have the endurance to go from ‘Drew to Pau as the Lakers work their substitutions over the course of a game and a series.  Plus, Camby does not have the offensive game to put the Lakers bigs in foul trouble and though his 18 foot jumper and high post passing are very strong, bigs that primarily rely on jumpshots rarely help lead playoff upsets against teams with strong post play.  This is not to say that the Blazers don’t have other weapons to take down the Lakers – we all know that Portland is, historically, a very tough match up for the Lakers.  Miller, Aldridge, and especially Roy all cause different issues on offense and both Webster and Batum can give Kobe problems on defense.  But, in the end, I don’t think this trade has improved the Blazers enough to truly contend in the post season and win a series against the Lakers.

Dallas:  You can find my thoughts on the Dallas trade here.  As for how they match up with the Lakers, I think this trade helps them a great deal.  Haywood is a really strong defensive center and I do think he could limit Andrew in a one on one matchup.  Completely stop him?  No, but he could make his life difficult on that end while also providing good help defense on any dribble penetration or post ups from our other players.  I also think Butler is a player that must be respected by Artest and that even though Ron could contain Caron, I also think that Butler is a good enough player to make Artest work hard and burn energy over the course of a game and a series.  You add in Dirk (who is fantastic), Kidd, and notorious Laker killer Jason Terry, and I think you have a team that matches up with the Lakers quite well up front.

That said, they don’t have anyone that can really slow Kobe.  And an effective Kobe compromises everything you want to do on defense as he finds ways to beat you by scoring and then (as shown against Denver last season) he shifts his game to exploit your changing schemes by using his teammates to hammer you into submission.  Then, on the flip side of that superstar coin, you have Pau and (especially) Lamar (and, potentially, even Artest) that have the ability to play Dirk one on one and I think Dallas has an issue with matchups against the Lakers.

My prognosis? I think it would be a hard fought series, but that ultimately Dallas would not have enough on both ends of the court to beat the Lakers.  Dirk may be too good to hold down for an entire series, but I think our array of defenders slow him in enough contests to make the Mavs’ lives difficult on offense.  You add the Lakers front line depth and the lack of depth (behind Haywood and Dirk) that have the size to compete with the Lakers bigs and I think our post presence wears them down over the course of a series.  Throw in the Kobe factor and you have a real advantage for the defending champs.  Don’t get me wrong, I think Dallas is close.  But I don’t think they get enough from Marion (who has traditionally struggled with Phil Jackson’s schemes and Lamar Odom) and I also think their back court is a bit too thin on defensive players to match up with Kobe (or even the quickness of Farmar on the second unit).  I think it would be a great series to watch though.

Cleveland:  Ahh, the Cavs.  If both teams are good (and lucky) enough to make it this far, fans and media alike would be drooling at the prospect of seeing these two teams battle for the championship.  This is only more true with the addition of Jamison.  Antawn gives the Cavs what they’ve sorely been missing the past several seasons – a reliable scorer in the front court that complements Lebron’s game.  Jamison is a player that is just as comfortable as a spot up shooter as he is a slasher as he is a post up player.  A member of the “I don’t really know how his game is that effective” club, Jamison is a guy that keeps plugging along with an arsenal of deep jumpshots, driving runners, and post up flip shots that make old guys at the Y smile.  Jamison is also a good rebounder and a solid defender.  Most important of all, Jamison is a real team player and a pro’s pro that will work hard to fit into the team concept of the Cavs and will not rock the boat.  There is no diva in Antawn.

However, when it comes to matching up with the Lakers, an addition of Jamison is not a slam dunk for the Cavs.  While Jamison may be a guy that has the size and style to match up with Rashard Lewis or even Josh Smith, facing off against Pau Gasol is a different story.  As we saw in the Finals last season, when an undersize PF matches up with Gasol it often leads to a double team that can be exposed by our Spaniard’s slick passing skills.   This is a defensive matchup that is not in the Cavs favor.  Now, Jamison could make up for it on the other end of the court with his versatile offensive game, but as we’ve all seen Pau is an underrated defender whose length and reach often bothers shooters more than they anticipate.  Obviously though, a match up with the Cavs is not only about Jamison.  They have Shaq as well.  Oh, yeah, and that Lebron guy too.  These are players that create match up issues for the Lakers defense.  So far this season, battling Shaq on the block has not worked out too well for Bynum and Gasol.  And even though Artest is an elite defender, Lebron makes even the best of the best look slow footed and lacking in strength.  Throw in the possible return of Z, Andy Varejao’s crafty defense, and the shooting of Mo’ Williams/West/Parker and you have a team with a tremendous amount of talent and diversity to their potential attack.

My prognosis?  This may sound like a cop out, but I really don’t know how this series would turn out.  There are too many variables could break in either direction that lead a victory for either side.  Do the Cavs have enough size and defense in their back court to contain Kobe?  Does Z return to the Cavs to complete their rotations at Center?  Can Artest (and the rest of the Lakers help D) slow Lebron enough that the other Cavs are forced to make the key shots in a game?  Does Lamar play like he has for the last 5 games and the way that he did in last year’s playoffs from the Denver series on?  Do our guards make shots?  Can Bynum outduel Shaq?  Does Mike Brown make the right adjustments to the wrinkles that Phil is bound to incorporate into a gameplan?  I could go on and on.  These are obviously the best two teams in the league and I think we’d all be lucky just to see this matchup occur.

In the end, understand that the countdown is now on to the playoffs.  Rosters are pretty much set (save for a random addition due to a buyout or, tragically, potential injury) and teams will be looking to gel and peak as they enter the second season.  Yes the Lakers stood pat.  And yes some of their chief rivals did everything they could to compete.  Were these moves enough?  How will it turn out?  Let me know what you all think about these moves (or any of the ones not mentioned – Kevin Martin to the Rockets for example) and what they mean in relation to the Lakers.

Darius Soriano

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to How Trades Affect the Lakers

  1. I think Jamison was picked up because Lebron wanted an addition and Cleveland got bumped off by Orlando last year. It wasn’t really a Laker thing.

    I do, however, agree that there is too much in play to predict a winner at this time.

    Houston: I think their move had more to do with next year. The loss of Landry will hurt them this year. They need Martin’s scoring, but they are not tough enough inside to really compete in the playoffs.


  2. Keep in mind most of these moves were made to match up with our team. Yes, Cleveland beat us both times in the regular season, but that doesn’t always translate into post-season success. Keep in mind that if games get close at the end, you will likely see Kobe taking LBJ straight up on D. Advantage Lakers. Also, if Shaq gets in any kind of foul trouble – advantage Lakers. Lamar and Ron can both make Jamison work. The real intangible is Mo Williams. If we slow him down – real big advantage Lakers. Denver is a team that can beat us, but I don’t know if they have it between the ears for a 7 gamer. And let’s face it – our team needs the challenge of winning the Finals without HCA. Few teams do it and those that do it as a successful title defense gain an extra element to their legendary status. A LA-Bos won’t likely happen, but boy I wish it would…Enjoy the 4 days off and let’s finish strong Lakers!


  3. i’m with gr8 scott. i think the trade of the season was the non trade by denver. they looked pretty good against the cleveland and melo made some amazing shots. clearly, denver has not yet played against an inspired laker team. let’s see what happens on feb 28. ya think kobe will be back for that one?
    and look at this schedule in early april: april 2 (utah @ lakers), april 4 (san anton @ lakers), april 8 (lakers @ denver), april 9 (lakers at minn), april 11 (portland @lakers).


  4. Great Post.

    I agree with most of what you said, Darius, except the part where you say Jamison is a solid defender.

    That’s false.

    He’s a terrible defender – and that’s why there’s two sides to the Jamison addition coin. Yes, the Cavs offense improves, but the big reason the Cavs give the Lakers problems is there defense – Z, Shaq, and Varajao all give the Lakers’ bigs issues because of their size, length, and smarts – if you substitute Jamison in, suddenly the Lakers have a weakness to exploit on the defensive end.

    It turns the game into more of a scoring duel, rather than a defensive slugfest, and in that situation, (most times) the Lakers have the advantage.

    Unfortunately, a large part of determining the winner between the Cavs and Lakers will be how the refs call the game. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a vacuum.

    Did anyone see the Nuggets/Cavs game last night? Cavs took 40 free throws, with Lebron being awarded 17 (the Nuggets only got 26 as a team).

    If Lebron is allowed to throw his body into the lane like a fullback for an entire series and get a foul called every time, and if Cleveland’s defenders are allowed to hack and grab Kobe on the perimeter (as was the case against Detroit in ’04 and Boston in ’08), the Lakers are going to have a hard time beating Cleveland in 7.

    The Nuggets only won last night because Cleveland missed 17 free throws (almost as many as the total Denver was give).

    If the Lakers make it back to the Finals, I’m terrified of watching them play game after game of 8 on 5 as Lebron shoots 20 free throws a game and Kobe is awarded 4 or 6 game.


  5. Burgundy, the numbers back you up as Jamison’s PER against is around 18 as both a PF and a SF. That said, Kenyon Martin’s is almost at 17 as a PF, so I think there’s room for interpretation here. Would Jamison ever be labled a stopper? No. But he’s not awful and he’s a better team defender than he gets credit for. Do I think the Lakers (or another team that starts a post-up PF) give Jamison problems. I think so. But, the Cavs have a good defensive scheme and Jamison is a smart player that I think will blend in well with what they do on that side of the ball. But, in the end, I think we’re all on the same page that the Cavs didn’t get Antawn because of his ability to guard the opposition.


  6. If the Lakers run the offense and get excellent production from the front court (Odom, Bynum, Gasol, Artest) they can and will beat anyone. This team has the tools. As someone noted on the last thread, I get the sense Ron is starting to feel a lot better. If they can get a noticeable up tick in Ron’s activity to go along with the playoff version of LO they will do damage.

    Jamison cannot stop Pau Gasol. Andy can’t either. But they need to see the All World Pau, not the tired and frustrated one that showed up at the Q. Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom are still better than any front court players on those teams (save for Dirk, maybe). When the Lakers run the Triangle they, coincidentally, become an excellent defensive team. And when they are playing top level D they are unstoppable.

    There is another level the Lakers still have not reached yet. Everyone can see it. We all know the Lakers have not played their best ball yet. Even with Jamison you have to believe the Cavs are playing the best they can play right now.

    Lastly, as crazy as this may sound, Denver is the team the concerns me the most. They did not trade anyone, so they have more cohesion. They have strong on-court leadership. And they have some pesky point guards. If the Lakers can get past Denver they will be mentally ready for battle with Cleveland (should they come out of the East).


  7. I agree with Burgandy…Jamison is not a good defender. His addition in offense will be offset by his deficiency on the defensive side. I also think that Jamison’s offensive skills as slasher and post player won’t be as effective in CLE system in which Lebron has the ball 90% of the time. His outside shooting isn’t as strong as Rashard Lewis or even Pierce.

    That said, CLE and DAL are deeper and more versatile than before and will give the Lakers more difficult time, maybe even beat them. It’s pretty close. However, the game of basketball is played 5 men at a time. Depth is crucial in the regular season, but in the playoffs, versatility counts more. In Kobe, LO, Pau, and Artest, we have some of the most versatile 2 way players in the league. All of them can do damages on both ends of the floor. If Bynum decides to play hard on the defensive side, too, we would have five all-star level 2 way players. That’s something none of the contenders can match, except the Celtics. Although Fisher is the worst starting PLAYER in all of the contenders right now, I think our 2 way advantage in other 4 spots really makes our team the team to beat in playoffs in which rotations can be tighter as there are more rest days between the games. It’s not about who has the best 12 players. It’s about who has the best 6-7 players. That clearly is the Lakers. I still like our chances.


  8. RE: 5

    I see what you’re saying Darius – he might become a better defender in Cleveland’s system.

    Something occured to me in “pb’s” post…has Phil ever tried a lineup of Lamar, Pau, Bynum, Kobe, and Artest? Why not run your five best guys during crunch time? Odom could play point guard. I don’t think it’s that crazy.


  9. Burgundy,
    Because in this case the “five best” is not the “best five”.


  10. Burgundy,
    I haven’t seen that lineup all year. I do think that is a viable line up, but only against certain teams. For example, I think it could work against Dallas when Kidd, Butler, Marion, Dirk, and Haywood share the court. Or against Portland with Miller, Roy, Batum, Aldridge, and Camby.

    But I would say there are two keys to this line up: 1). Who does Odom guard? Against the Blazers in Kobe’s first missed game, LO started for Kobe and guarded Miller, while Fish guarded Bayless. Miller isn’t a real offensive threat and his best weapon on O is posting up smaller PG’s – well he’s not posting up LO and doesn’t have the quickness to beat him off the dribble. Would Odom be able to guard Kidd? – or would LO guard Marion with Kobe on Kidd? – more likely that way, right? And 2). Yes Odom could play PG, but he’d be limited to a lot of perimeter standing around with such a contested post area. Plus, you really would be depending on Kobe to play the “Fisher” role on offense as the secondary intiator because Ron just isn’t there yet. I think in the next calendar year, we will see this line up just because Ron will get more comfortable in this offense and Kobe will likely start to defer more and more to an evolving offensive team (maybe that isn’t “likely”, but it’s possible). I have a feeling that this is the reason that we have not yet seen that lineup this season. I do think that’s our most versatile defensive lineup, but it would be a work in progress on offense.


  11. Odom plays at his best when he has lanes to drive. Gasol and Bynum have a habit of posting up on both sides of the lane, so really, nobody has any room to drive whatsoever when both of those guys are in the game. And this leaves only perimeter shots, I know how we feel about Odom shooting threes. We would have less spacing on the floor than we already do.


  12. “This may sound like a cop out, but I really don’t know how this series would turn out”

    You mean you can’t predict the future? Interesting. This is a good blog but even it falls prey to sports cliches.


  13. jamison is 0-12 with 0 points in 24 minutes as charlotte is killing cleveland.

    tyrus thomas on the other a good debut with 5 blocks and 11 rebounds.

    im sure cleveland does not want to face charlotte in the 1st round. they have their number this season.


  14. Another loss by the Cavs. So much for never losing again.


  15. Lakers just gained a half game in the standing on Cleveland, and another half on Denver. Wow.


  16. so…um…can I hop back on the Lakers band wagon?


  17. Tyrus Thomas and theo ratliff both played very well to say the least.Saw the whole game and i believe the cats play the best team defence against the cavs and especialy lebron from any team i saw this season.thet have very quick and strong defenders with size and can stay in front of lebron most of the time forcing him to shoot outside of his comfort zone, or make tough passes.
    they also have great comunication with each other on defence hence you dont see blown assignements on d.and hustle,hustle on each posession of course.Larry brown is doing agreat job with the cats.


  18. let’s hope the Celtics lose to Portland and make it the trifecta!


  19. I do think Jamison was a pick up for the Eastern conference competition, not for the Lakers.

    A big if, is whether Z is back for the Cavs. I don’t see the Lakers beating the Cavs, if they don’t find some three point shooting. Cav’s will pack the paint and make Kobe beat multiple defenders from the outside.

    I think a similar case can be made for the Denver matchup.

    Some players have to step up, Ron, Fish, Farmar, or Sasha (I’d include Brown in that group, but I don’t think he will ever be a steady three point shooter) or the Lakers will have a really tough time making it to the finals, much less winning them.


  20. Last year, the Cavs made a mistake by not making any trade at the deadline. This year, they make a mistake by making a trade at the deadline. Clearly, they weren’t good enough to handle ORL or LAL last year because they didn’t have enough size in the middle or not athletic enough on the wing. This year, they actually have enough talent, but Jamison deal might break up a nice momentum they were building this season. I’m not sure if they would have won had they not made the deal anyway. Either way, I’m glad that this deal won’t work out as well as many think it would. (Though it’s only one game so far…)

    I keep thinking back to Jamison on that Dallas team. That team was very talented, and Jamison didn’t really help out that team. Only after he was traded away, did Dallas started to win and even reach the NBA finals. Coincidence? Not sure. I just don’t think Jamison brings much to the tables other than scoring. He’s a career 45% shooting PF. He’s that classic tweener who works hard, but doesn’t have the overwhelming game to compete in playoff level basketball. He’s a pro’s pro, but a winner? His track record shows that he hasn’t been one since his college days.


  21. 11. Drew is the main culprit of making it impossible for teamates too get to the rim. Pau can make a pass to a cutter or make a move to score. Drew on the other hand gets the ball out of the paint and everybody stops to allow him space to make his move to get closer to the basket.

    If Drew would use his body to establish a deeper post positon, when he recieves the ball, then his passing skills wouldnt be such a glaring weakness. He is a back to the basket center at this stage and nothing else.

    Last night was a prime example late in the game when Drew was jab stepping outside the paint. While he wasted eight seconds on the shot clock, nobody was moving, killing the flow of the offense. Did he think he was gonna blow by the defense and get a layup?

    Since he’s been back for the last two games the offense hasnt had that rhythm it had in the previous three games he was out. Cant blame it all on Drew but I have seen him do this in countless situations over the course of the year.


  22. Provided the Lakers top Denver – which I don’t think is a given – I agree with Burgundy’s point about the officiating being a key point in a series versus Cleveland.

    LeBron’s annointment as King Jordan II has made watching the Cavs impossible to enjoy. Whenever they need a hoop, he just puts his head down, rushes into the lane and gets a whistle. It’s a total and complete joke.

    Remember in the Olympics, who saved Team USA when things got tough vs. Spain? It was Kobe, who has real basketball skills, not LeBron, whose effectiveness drops significantly when non-NBA refs are calling the game and fail to give him the superstar treatment.

    Anyone who questions this, watch the play in the Cavs/Lakers game when Lamar was set, LBJ ran into him at full steam, and the foul was called on Lamar.

    The one thing that could offset that bogus call edge is Phil vs. Mike Brown, who’s a different kind of joke. But I don’t know that his incompetence is enough to make up for the myriad points they’ll give LeBron at the line, as well as those the refs will take from the Lakers by putting Bynum, Odom and Pau on the bench for long stretches because they had the temerity to stand near the Annointed One as he knocked them back 15 with his head in their stomach.


  23. as far as cleveland goes, it may just be down to how kobe and lebron outduel each other in their respective matchups…

    i agree with darius, too many variables unaccounted for. that’s why the game is round as the ball i guess.

    feels good to see competing teams lose to hard-nose efforts by underdogs. all is fair that way.

    i agree, cleveland better look to their backdoor because these bobcats may just be the next golden state of 07.


  24. I have a REAL ISSUE with your comment that Jamison is a “solid” defender. I’m just wondering what data you are using to back up your claim? From all the data that i’ve looked at, Jamison is not only NOT a solid defender, he is not even average and quite frankly rather POOR at defending.

    I’m wondering how you got “solid” which i regard as above average, when everything i’m looking at leads me to believe that he is quite BELOW average.

    At they have a simple “roland” rating. In that they take production, production against and also an adjusted +- to come up with the Roland rating. It can be found here:

    For his own production (we all know on a bad team such as the Wizards, Jamison can produce) he scores 20.3. However, his opponent’s production is 18.4. This is a very high number. I compared it to a lot of other PF’s, and even similar PFs like Rashard Lewis or Dirk, and I got the same result –Jamison’s number is bad.

    And basketball reference, they state that his defensive efficiency rating this year is 109. Last year it was even worse at 113. This means that he is allowing 109 points per 100 possessions, and last year 113. This is the best defensive stat i know of, and Jamison’s is horrid. Just to give you guys a comparison, we all hate how horrible a defensive player Derek Fisher is, and how our absolute weakness is the attack on Fisher’s horrible defense by other PGs (before i used to say “quick PGs,” but i’m being frank here, it doesn’t matter if the opposing PG is quick, slow, fat, dumb, retarded, dying, he is going to kill Fisher). Anyway, Fisher with his atrocious defense, has a defensive efficiency number of 104! That is far better than Jamison. Just to give you another comparison, Dwight Howard sports a defensive efficiency number of 95!

    My overall judgement of Jamison is that he is no where NEAR “solid” on the defensive end. In fact, he is quite bad.


  25. #4 Burgandy, you totally stole my thunder

    Also, i must admit that you are absolutely CORRECT regarding the Refs. The main reason basketball is not my favorite sport is due to the refs. They decide a game, flat out. I would be happy if the FT count is roughly even between any two teams. It is absolutely unfair to give 1 team 40 free throws and the other 15, as happened in game 5 of the 2004 finals. I think it was the biggest difference in NBA history.

    Unfortunatle basketball is turning into WWF. The NBA wants to write a good story instead of watch an actual competition.


  26. What a terrible debut for Jamison. Two airballs and 0-12 shooting? I can’t feel too sorry for him though; after all, he’s a Cav now.

    I agree with people who point to our 3pt shooting as a key to a playoff run. I’m worried defenses will pack the paint and dare us to shoot the 3. Our shooters get plenty of decent looks already, and they’ll need to knock more of them down.

    I have no doubt that Kobe will strike a balance between ‘mamba’ and ‘facilitator’ mode when we need him to.

    I want the Cavs in the Finals even though I know Lebron’s running into people for foul calls will drive me insane. Overcoming that will make the Lakers victory that much sweeter. I’m getting ahead of myself.


  27. 21, it’s drew’s fault nobody is cutting to the basket? the triangle is all about player movement. come on.

    maybe he held the ball for so long because he was waiting for somebody, anybody to move purposefully.


  28. The X-factor against the Cavs will be Odom (as he is against any team). When Odom plays well the Lakers are very hard to beat. Especially if he plays the way he has since Kobe went down.


  29. 1. On Lamar, Pau, Bynum, Kobe, and Artest. I am quite sure the reason Phil doesn’t run that lineup is that he believes they get killed by speed and transition. Lamar/Pau/Bynum started one of the games without Kobe and got clobbered and we didn’t see that after the 1st quarter.

    2. Not sure how the Jamison experiment goes – but I’m glad to take our chances. I really think the Lakers were in trouble against the Cavs pre-trade. I guess the Cavs are hoping to have more of a Magic look, playing three spot-ups, Shaq rebounding, and Lebron driving and creating. But yes, I would way rather have Pau taking on Jamison than Varejao. That’s another thing – Jamison will take minutes away from Varejao, who is really an underrated monster. I do think the Cavs will match up better against the Magic.

    3. My sense about a Cavs-Lakers final is that it would be a mix of close games where the Kobe and Lebron factors make it a toss-up, and games where the Cavs just beat down a passive Laker front line. Basically, a mix of our games this year. Unless the Lakers gel better and Pau/Bynum play better under brute force attack, I don’t like our chances.

    4. I agree with the commenters who fear the Nugs more than the Cavs. Last year it took 4 and three-quarters playoff games to figure them out. This year, they may have improved enough that we may not recover in time.

    It sure will be fun to watch it unfold, though. And who’s to say the Cavs and Nugs (or Lakers!) make it out of the first two rounds anyway…

    ps. If Z goes back to the Cavs, karma will be against them. I HATE that rule. Such returning players really should be ineligible for the playoffs.


  30. One good thing about Dallas getting better is that it will make the 2 v. 3 play-off round a lot tougher. (At least that’s good as long as we hold on to the top seed in the West.) I think avoiding that match-up is probably more important than the home court advantage.

    At the start of the year, I would have said the Eastern conference play-offs were going to be harder. With Boston falling apart and Orlando never putting it together, I’m not sure that’s true anymore.


  31. >let’s hope the Celtics lose to Portland and make it the trifecta!

    I think the way that game is going, you’re going to have to settle for the Spurs getting slapped by 76ers for your trifecta.


  32. I love this post Darius. And while its unpopular to be predicting cliche wins and cliche anybody’s game, its still fun. For what its worth…

    First off, the Lakers cannot afford to be complacent. That has always been the problem if you have Kobe on your team. The other players tend to stand around and watch and marvel at Kobe’s greatness. This is a recipe for disaster. I think one can clearly state that having Kobe on your side is bittersweet. Its sweet when he displays his case as to why he should be regarded a top 5-10 player of all time, and its bitter when his teammates become spectators of his own greatness.

    I particularly commend the team for playing their hearts out when captain Kobe is not playing. Its good for both Kobe’s health and overall team morale. But these guys cannot revert to their non-effort of Mr Mamba is back. Remember its a luxury to have Kobe, but its not a cakewalk.

    Against Portland, the Lakers seem to have it covered. I say this because the Lakers are motivated to beat that team whether its the playoffs or simply a regular season game at the Rose Garden. On the E-scale (effort) I think the Lakers might even want to go for the jugular and not give the Jailblazers any chance. I cannot predict the future, but I can sense the vibe of going 3-0 (2 strong games at home and a hard-fought game 3 win at Rose Garden). The rest is up to you. But the Lakers will be winning this with motivation and effort.

    Against Dallas, the team sure got upgraded. Like I always say, its almost like Dallas made the investment of spending money solely on Haywood because the difference from Josh Howard to Caron Butler is too irrelevant to notice. Haywood is nice, I’d take him to be my backup center any day of the week over Amare or Bosh, but will the Mavs have enough? I think we will beat the Mavs out of sheer talent.

    I have to note how much I like how you used the phrase “hammer into submission.”

    Against Denver is where I get weary. Against them, we are pansies. Only because we seem to be really deficient in someone who could effectively guard Chauncey Billups. Carmelo Anthony is also a nightmare to matchup against, and even the great Ron of 2004 will have his hands full.

    I like how the 0-2 record will motivate us to exact revenge. I actually prefer it than being 2-0 at this point because it will mean the Lakers will shelve its own complacency and beat this team talent-for-talent and effort-for-effort. Make no mistake, that what it will take to take down this Nuggets team.

    Ahhh Cleveland. I often wonder why all of us get to be a part of the media-anointed East Champs. Remember last season? Remember when the Cavs were supposed to be 67-15 if they didn’t drop their final game against Philly? I hate to be the only objector here but I still can’t see CLE as the nemesis media or you would like them to be.

    The East crown is still Orlando’s to lose… and notice it when Orlando flies under the radar is when they are most effective.

    Another is the Celtics. Nate won’t help them as much as they’d like him to do, and I am a firm believer that Eddie House is huge for that team. Too bad they couldn’t resist little Nate’s expiring contract without Birds.

    But the point is, Boston had a 3-yr window when they made the Allen + Garnett trade back in the summer of 08. If you know how to count, you’d know that this is still year 3. Overall, for the sake of my Laker fanhood and for the game in general, its my deep assertion that it will be Boston facing us come June, not the Cavs.

    Of course, I wouldn’t mind seeing em Leppers struggle and lose in the 1st round.


  33. Cleveland isnt losing to Boston in the playoffs this year..

    Cleveland has improved by leaps and bounds where as the Celtics haven’t

    If you’ve noticed 3/5 of the Cavs starters from last year are coming off the bench(Z, Andy & Delonte). These aren’t the Cavaliers of 2008. (when the Celtics were younger and better)

    I see only Orlando, Atlanta and maybe the Bobcats giving the Cavs trouble in a series. Which may not be a good thing for us.

    Id rather play a team that hasn’t been tested and fresh than a weary team that’s overcome struggles together.


  34. Well Jamison did his Fisher imitation tonight. If he plays like this more often than not, he and Fisher will cancel out in the Finals if Lakers face Cavs


  35. Q

    lol as harsh as your comment is there’s no arguing against it.


  36. Phil is saving his wild card for the playoffs… Kobe will be on Lebron and Melo when the playoffs games get tough. That is a hand we have not seen in the regular season and will be the difference maker. If Kobe can play those two to a wash( he has in the past)or close to it, the Lakers will prevail against the Nuggets and the cavs. Z will be returning to the Cavs after 30 days, no doubt about it, but bynum has to mentally get over Shaq’s shadow n sucess in LA. It seems he plays timid n little nervous whenever he faces Shaq. Bring the same attitude he brought against the Celtics, and Shaq or Z cannot guard him over 48 minutes!


  37. Darius,

    You said,

    “Antawn gives the Cavs what they’ve sorely been missing the past several seasons – a reliable scorer in the front court that complements Lebron’s game. Jamison is a player that is just as comfortable as a spot up shooter as he is a slasher as he is a post up player. A member of the “I don’t really know how his game is that effective” club, Jamison is a guy that keeps plugging along with an arsenal of deep jumpshots, driving runners, and post up flip shots that make old guys at the Y smile.”

    After Antawn’s 0 for 12 debut with the Cavs, I hope that you have a sense of self depreciating humor.

    There is no doubt that Antawn will improve statistically, but it may not be that easy to integrate him into the Cavalier core. Dallas may have even more difficulty integrating new players into their team concepts.

    The Lakers have only recently shown signs of fully integrating their team, and they have multiple “glue guys,” and (except Artest) have played together for at least one year.

    What has been a hallmark of the Lakers teamwise for decades has been an ability to attract players who could take on more than one role. Right now, Fisher, Artest, Odom, Gasol, and Kobe all have the capability to take on diverse challenges. We only hope that “glue guy” Luke can be still added this season. Farmar, Brown, and Bynum are clearly still in the learning stages. Sasha may be finally putting together the pieces–he changes from game to game in cameo appearances.

    During this season, Derek has occasionally reverted to his shooting guard role from Jazz days, and even once led the team in rebounds–even though his combative presence on defense, tempo setting offense, and his ability to defuse 3 on ones with strategic “flops” are more his current trademark.

    Odom can play all five positions and has superstar capabilities. Even though his 3 point shooting is generally forgettable (one season the worst on the team), he has come through with three point shots that have saved the Laker victories from time to time–emerging from his rebounding facilitating role. Just when you think that he can’t dunk–he dunks. When you think he always uses his left hand, he makes a right handed layup.

    Ron Artest, likewise, can emerge from a defensive role to become a major offensive scorer–we’ve also been pleasently surprized by his strategic passing ability.

    Pau Gasol has proven himself capable of almost any role that can be thought up for him, from scorer to facilitator, to defensive shot blocker and rebounder. The league has not yet fully grasped how much he can mean to a team through his diverse roles–both as power forward or center.

    As repeatedly pointed out,”Good” Kobe can play superstar team defense, facilitate, and rebound–when he isn’t a volume shooter–at either the small forward or shooting guard positions.

    Very few other NBA teams making midseason changes are likely to work together in such diverse ways with only a few months to get their acts together and fewer experienced “glue guys.”

    Bring on the playoffs.


  38. The dallas deal was a great one, but it doesnt put them over the top.

    They have no one to take advantage of Fisher.. Kidd is not that type of PG. Kidd will definitely outplay Fisher but he wont compromise our defense by penetrating.

    As for Dirk.. We have the greatest duo of PF’s to guard him. Lamar has shown he’s more than capable and Gasol has also done a great job.

    Butler? Not really worried about him, Artest will make sure his contributions are marginal.

    Who’s their Kobe stopper? I’d expect Butler/Marion and Kidd to get time on him. With Marion being the most effective.

    In the west their are only 2 teams the Lakers should fear… Denver and themselves


  39. Also notice- if the playoff were going to stat today, Cleveland would face Charlotte in the 1st round. The Bobcats just won that season series 3-1. That is a bad matchup for anyone with Charlottes style of play. Remember how they owned the Lakers last season?


  40. I like what Larry Brown and MJ have done in CHA. They were never getting any good FA so stack your team up with freakishly athletic ballers who own multiple skills and you suddenly have yourself a playoff team.

    Tyson Chandler sees very little time, if he could only be more consistent a Chandler-Thomas front, along with Wallace-Jackson wing with Felton-Augustin at the point is a crazy good defensive team.

    Not tome mention there’s Diaw.


  41. Can we get a grass roots effort started to get Steve Blake as our point


  42. I agree. Jamison was picked up to help match-up with Rashard Lewis.

    Unless Big Z leaves a ton of money on the table to go back to Cleveland, I like this trade, should we see them in the Finals.


  43. As others have said, lamar is really the x-factor in every series, but i think he really comes into play in the cavs series. All anyone needs to look at the see a glimpse of how lamar can impact a game is to look back at the game last year where he almost single-handedly took apart the cavs with a double double in the third quarter. Granted, hickson has improved greatly since then, but that kind of activity and production can really tilt the scales in the lakers favor.


  44. I agree, no bigger X-factor in the league than Lamar. If he has one of his days no team in the league can beat LA.

    Btw did you notice how much fun Lamar was having against Boston? seemed like he was constantly smiling.


  45. Yusuf,

    Yes. I think everyone noticed that. Check out CelticsBlog. They noticed too, and were hating big time. KG gets him revved up.

    What I like is he’s been really aggressive going to the hole. No lay-ups. He wants dunks. Biggest difference in him.


  46. #24. I don’t think “solid” means above average or good. Maybe I should have said “average” or “ok” or “better than what his metrics say”. Because that is what I believe. Defense is more than what you do on your own man, it’s how you play within the concept of your team, it’s how well you rebound, it’s you communication on the court, etc. That’s why I can say that he’s “solid” and not feel like it’s a stretch.

    #37. Yeah, not a great debut for Jamison. Maybe I should start to write flattering things about more players that play for other teams. But I don’t think anyone should jump to conclusions about Jamison’s first game. Yes he played poorly, but it was one game, and he came off the bench. I think your point about integrating him is an interesting one just because if you recall, Shaq made comments about adjusting to the Cavs schemes early this year that implied it’s not that easy playing in a Lebron centric offense. We’ll see though. I do still believe that Jamison is a good compliment to Lebron based off his skill set.


  47. Well, five games without Kobe and I had to feed my Kobe Bryant withdrawl. In the process I found a video on youtube that has the propeganda power to rebirth USSR with KB as Joe Stalin. You don’t believe me? Do yourself a favor and enjoy the next ten minutes of your life watching this… Comrade

    BTW, if this was any other player the clip at 8:04 would have been 95% of any NBA players (retired and active) #1 highlight to be watched in their would be “highlight compelation” but not in Kobe’s. Instead, it was just a 5 second clip in a 10 minute, non-stop highlight reel.

    And no, I have nothing to do with the production of this video. I just wanted to watch some Kobe this morning and stumbled upon something I couldn’t help but share with FB&G crew.


  48. As great as PJ is, one of his biggest criticisms is that he doesn’t develop young players to their potential. Why doesn’t he just give Farmar more opportunities in the regular season? Why does he insist on playing Fisher more minutes than he deserves? If the Lakers don’t win it all, Buss isn’t likely to pay so much money for a head coach next season. And any other head coach is not going to have Fisher as a starting PG for sure.


  49. Just finished reading the comments over at Celticsblog. I love their fans, they make Laker fans look even keeled.

    My favourite post was a commenter talking about how the Lakers were lucky that Odom grabbed 14 rebounds like its a fluke… only for some 1 to tell him that Odom has had more than 14 rebounds 8 times in the past 15 games.


  50. When the Lakers played in DC, Jamison went 46 minutes and scored 27 points. Odom, Gasol and Bynum were a combined 21/30 from the field, and the Lakers ORTG was 132.

    Yes, it is one game–but I agree with those who think Jamison is weak on D and a bad matchup from the Cavs’ perspective.

    That said, I expect Z will be back with the Cavs, or, if not, with Denver.


  51. #46 Darius,

    Unfortunately the only statistics you have used for your claim that JAmison is a “solid” defender, is his against PER which you said was 18! Obviously you used this to back away from your claim since it is an atrocious number (btw, wondering where i can find against PER, i’ve been looking for a place to gather that data for a long time). Basically, what i’m saying is you haven’t really backed that claim up with stats or data, but rather your personal opinion. Not that your opinion or your “eye” doesn’t count for anything, but that sometimes a persons eye can deceive.

    Jamison is a huge hole defensively and not that efficient offensively. I think this trade makes the Cavs better, but it is rather insignificant in the over all picture. If the Cavs would have picked up Amare, now that is a different story. Or even Troy Murphy who i think is much better. Murphy is just as bad defensively, but his offense is so much more efficient!

    Basically, usually when teams make trades, they are looking out for their own self interest. The Wizards gave the CAvs Jamison for basically NOTHING. Just like the Bucks gave away Jefferson for basically nothing. The reason is that they are not good players, they are not worth what they are getting paid. That’s why they give these players away. Jamison is just like Jefferson. An over the hill, inefficient volume shooter who cannot play defense. He looks a lot better on paper because he was a high usage player on a horrible team, just like Jefferson. When these type of players move to very efficient contending teams, they stink the place up and are big disappointments. Let’s hope Jamison doesn’t break this trend.


  52. #52. Kaveh,
    You can find PER against at When you go into the individual player profile, there is a table near the bottom of the page that lists the PER for the player at every position that he plays and then in the next table there is PER against for those same positions. If you’re looking for a lot of good hoops stats that are sortable you can also go to Great stuff at that site.

    As for the Jamison/defense argument – to me it’s semantics. I don’t think he’s a defensive minded player nor do I think he’s going to be an impactful player on that end of the floor. We disagree that he’s bad. I don’t think he’s bad. His PER against suggests he’s bad, but in the games that I watch he’s useful, but in different ways than locking down his own man. Like I’ve said many times before, basketball is a nuanced game and while stats are useful they are only one aspect (this is the same point that you made about the eyeball test – I think this rationale applies to both point’s of view). I try to look at the stats and then watch the games and then make a determination. Do the stats lie? Not necessarily, but when I watch the games I see a solid player that does better against certain types of players than against others. As I said in the body of the post, I think Jamison will do better against a guy like Rashard Lewis (look at the last two times the Magic have faced the Wiz to see Lewis’ numbers against Jamison) than he will against Gasol. There are shades of gray here.


  53. One thing about the Cavs is the difference that Shaq and possibly Hickson as a starter have made this year, not only in reducing the effectiveness of our front-line, but also possibly on LJ’s production.

    This year Drew/Pau/Odom: 21pts & 30pts
    Last year Drew/Pau/Odom: 34 & 46 (Pau & LO only)

    This year LJ: 36pts and 26 pts
    Last year LJ: 23 pts and 16 pts

    In terms of Jamison, I look at this way. If we would have gotten Jamison for “nothing” as it seems we are characterizing the deal, I would be pretty happy. If the Cavs get Z back, it really will be a steal of a deal.
    Assuming Jamison is coming off the bench, then he’s going to spend less time against starters and his defense will be less of an issue.

    I think the Cavs had the pieces to win a championship w/o Jamison. This is plus. It doesn’t get them over the hump. It doesn’t guarantee victory, but it raises the odds.


  54. Speaking of trades – McGrady looks like he hopped into a time machine tonight. Holy crap.


  55. How about Daryl Morey? Giving up Carl Landry for Kevin Martin, Jordan Hill.. and potentially as high as Knick’s 2011 #2 pick, and #6 2012 pick? Are you kidding me? This was crazy.;_ylt=AhE5gdHR0FPKp_AJGBWFT.W8vLYF?urn=nba,220605


  56. I think the Jamison trade is just as much about the off season as it is about the finals this year. If Lebron loses to LA in the Finals, he’s still more likely to stay in Ohio b/c of Jamison being there.

    Shaq was a nice pick up but his contract is up this year, and the Cavs may not pick up his old man rate next year. Without Jamison, the Cavs wouldn’t have much to offer next year for Lebron to stay.

    Now they’ve got a selling point to give LBJ for a 3-year contract this summer. If they get a championship – great. If they only get to the finals – still great.

    Finally, it was a no brainer. The Cavs only lost $$ on this trade. They gave almost nothing up talent-wise.