From Dan Loumena, Los Angeles Times: Everyone who follows the NBA understands how important the second unit is to not only winning games but winning championships. The moves the Lakers made in the offseason certainly filled their needs — a proven point guard in Steve Blake to team with high-flying guard Shannon Brown, providing a formidable long-range shooter and an athletic slasher. The departed Jordan Farmar was a fine second-unit point guard, but I think Lakers fans will be pleased with Blake’s efficiency, and I expect Brown to continue to improve.
From Dan Loumena, Los Angeles Times: Most people think that 6-foot-10 center Theo Ratliff is an upgrade off the bench from 7-foot DJ Mbenga, who really didn’t get much playing time during his tenure with the Lakers. Ratliff has been primarily a defensive stopper in his 15 years in the NBA, even earning All-Star honors in 2001. He averaged more than three blocks a game six times in a seven-year run during the prime of his career. He’s No. 18 all-time in blocks and tied for 11th in blocks per game. That’s impressive.
From Dan Loumena, Los Angeles Times: A former colleague of ours, Scott Howard-Cooper, had an interesting article on nba.com about Magic Johnson possibly joining a new ownership group for the Detroit Pistons. Owner Bill Davidson passed away at age 86 in March and the family is expected to sell the team in the near future, likely to a Detroit group headed by Red Wings and Tigers owner Mike Ilitch. Magic, an All-American high school player from East Lansing, Mich., and NCAA champion with Michigan State, has been rumored to be in talks to join Ilitch and Pistons GM Joe Dumars to become part of that group.
From Broderick Turner, Los Angeles Times: Lamar Odom won his second consecutive NBA championship in June playing for his team, the Lakers. Now he’s trying to win his first world championship in September playing for his country, the United States. Odom is the starting center for Team USA in the FIBA World Championship in Turkey, on a team that some consider too small and too inexperienced to become champions.
From Brian Cronin, Los Angeles Times: In 1971, the United States Supreme Court heard the case of Haywood v. National Basketball Association, which involved NBA Star Spencer Haywood, who left college after his sophomore year at the University of Detroit and was eventually outright signed by the Seattle Supersonics. At the time, the NBA had a rule that stated that no player could join the NBA until four years after they graduated high school (they adopted this rule soon into the NBA’s existence). So, naturally, the NBA took issue with Haywood playing for the Sonics and the Sonics countered by backing Haywood in an anti-trust suit that went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled 7-2 that players should be allowed to be drafted sooner than four years after graduating high school, although the rule was predicated on the player in question being able to demonstrate economic hardship that required him to pursue a professional career right away. The 1971 NBA Draft saw the introduction of a special “hardship draft” for these players.
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: Before change comes inspiration. Before inspiration, someone must inspire. Here is Jeremy Lin. Even if in his own mind he’s merely just another American kid playing ball, here is Jeremy Lin. He’s a somewhat reluctant torch-bearer for race. He has not even begun his NBA career and is trying to pursue his dream his way. His reservations are completely understandable – yet altogether secondary to the greater good. He is already someone to so many, and that’s the thing about inspiration: It’s not about the one causing the inspiration as much as it’s about the effect on many.
From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: It’s time again to empty out the Land O’Lakers mailbag. Just because we’re in the dry, forbidding summer months doesn’t mean there are no issues to kick around. After all, training camp is just around the corner. So without further ado, let’s get going. Q: Yo Kamenetzky Bros! I’m splitting season seats for Lakers/Clippers/Kings this year, and I have to go to this draft next week to select my games. Its a snake draft but I wanted to have my picks ready to go. So for time’s sake, can you at least give me your guys top 10 games of the season, in order from best to worst? Also I really don’t want to pick any Clipper games in the top 10, but do you think I need to select Clippers/Heat that early?
From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen and Roll: The Triangle offense has enjoyed a nice little run of success over the past 20 years. Since the 1990-91 season, there have been more champions who believe in the principles of the ol’ “Triple Post” offense than use some other antiquated stategy for putting a ball in an iron hoop. Really, when you think about it, it’s a minor miracle that so few teams have tried to give the Triangle a shot. If this were a copy cat league like the NFL, a full 60-70% of the league’s teams would be trying to duplicate success by running the Triangle, and screen-roll dominant guards like Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo might be reduced to coming off the bench for a few minutes at a time, as Kevin Harlan proclaims “It looks like the Hornets are turning to their Wildcat offense, looking for a spark.”
From Lakers.com: Early in December, the Lakers found themselves down two points to the Miami Heat with just two seconds left showing on the clock, though it was L.A.’s ball on the sideline opposite Miami’s bench. Kobe Bryant received the inbounds pass and stumbled, but managed to move quickly to his left before rising into the air, avoiding the outstretched hand of Dwyane Wade and launching a high-arching bomb. The clock flashed 0.3 seconds as the ball left his hand, and after the buzzer sounded, banked home off the glass. Lakers win.
From Shaun Powell, NBA.com: Lamar Odom (Lakers): His shooting percentage and scoring average has dipped the last three years, and he seemed noticeably average during the championship run. Odom still has value to the Lakers as a rebounder, but the rest of his game has faltered. Once the Lakers cease winning championships, his weaknesses will become magnified. And that could happen this season.