Fast Break Thoughts

Darius Soriano —  September 10, 2010

Jun. 03, 2010 - Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - epa02186398 Los Angeles Lakers' Pau Gasol of Spain goes to the basket for two points as Boston Celtics' Glen Davis defends during the second half of game one of the NBA Finals at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, USA 03 June 2010. This is the 12th time that the 17 time champion Boston Celtics and the 15 time champion Los Angeles Lakers have met in the 64 year history of the NBA Finals with Boston taking nine of those series.

A variety of topics to cover today, so let’s get to it.

*Everyone should already know that Matt Barnes was arrested this week on suspicion of domestic violence.  I’ve been largely silent on the Matt Barnes arrest for a couple of reasons.  First is because I typically try to focus on issues that play out on the basketball court and not those surrounding appearances in a court of law.  And with Barnes being a new member of the team and having not yet played a single minute for the Lakers, there’s little to discuss in terms of how this affects the team in a basketball sense.  Sure we’ve had thoughts on what role Barnes would play and how many minutes he might see, but that’s all speculation until he actually suits up.  The second reason is that I don’t have all the facts of what occurred at Barnes’ home on that day and I try not to form opinions on issues until I know more details.  Even with statements from both Barnes and his fiance now coming out speaking to these accusations being false, we still don’t know what happened that day and we may never know.   In the end, I think Kurt at Pro Basketball Talk said it very well when summarizing the entire situation:

We have no idea what happened in the Barnes household. Maybe nothing. However this points to a bigger societal issue — it is common for the female in a domestic violence situation to protect the man. It makes convictions on the charges challenging. It makes the pattern of violence harder to stop.

What exactly happened in the Barnes house remains a mystery. But you can be sure of one thing through all of this — the Lakers front office isn’t happy.

*Changing gears to news that is more about the actual game of basketball…Earlier this week we were discussing the correlation between offensive execution and good defense.  How, for the Lakers specifically, executing the Triangle well leads to better defense; that by operating with strong spacing and good floor balance the Lakers promote defensive success because it enables the players to transition well from offense to defense and thus forces the opposition to face a team that is set up and prepared.  This conversation was prompted by a series of posts that ran at True Hoopabout how strong defense actually has more impact in winning championships than playing strong offense.  When thinking about this more over the past couple of days, another thought came to me:  We’ve all heard commentators (Jeff Van Gundy being one) say that “great offense beats great defense every time”.  And I agree with that.  However, how many great offensive players are there in the league?  I mean truly great ones.  5?  10?  When trying to name them a list might include Kobe, Lebron, Wade, Durant, Carmelo, Chris Paul, Dirk, Steve Nash and others that I’ve surely left out.  We’re talking less than 3% of the entire league.  Now, think about very good defensive players and, even more, think about defensive schemes and the teams that execute well on that side of the ball.  My point is, you’ll likely find way more defenders that are considered very good to great than you will offensive players.  And even when you have a great offensive player (like Kobe), that guy will have bad nights.  Basically, you’re damned right I believe that defense is going to lead to more championships than offense does if only because you can’t rely on offense as much; the number of players that can truly hurt you consistently is minuscule in comparison the the population of the entire league and even those guys have off nights.  And when trying to beat the other team, what do you think is going to be the more effective tactic – scoring in a manner that few players and teams can actually do consistently or stopping the other team from doing something that is actually already quite difficult to do efficiently?  I’ll take the latter.

*Looking around the league, the big rumor of the past couple of days is the potential trade of Carmelo and his (suposed) preference of either going to the Bulls or the Knicks.  One floated deal had the Bulls giving up Deng and Noah for Carmelo.  When I thought about that deal from the Bulls’ end, I thought they’d be crazy to give up Noah in a trade for Anthony.  Noah’s a versatile big that rebounds and defends at near elite levels and is the type of player that championship teams always have.  And while I greatly respect ‘Melo, he’s a scoring wing that rebounds and defends at below a league average level for his position.  When looking at it this way, I thought the decision would be easy.  Which got me thinking, is Carmelo an elite player?  Yes he’s got name value and he’s one of the purest scoring forwards in the league but is he elite?  Let me know what you think in the comments because I’m really not sure and am leaning towards no.

*Speaking of elite players, its seemingly the time of the year where folks want to bring back the bar stool debates about players rankings and who the best players of specific franchises are.  The Lakers have a storied history and have had some of the best of the best this game has ever seen suit up for them.  Over at Hoops Manifesto, they’ve listed their top 10 Lakers of all time.  Personally, I think Elgin and Mikan are too low, but that’s just me.  Tell me what you think in the comments.

*One player that didn’t make that list is Pau Gasol.  Get him a championship or two more and he just might make a future one, though.  However, just so that we can all remember how great Gasol actually has been for the Lakers, here’s a video to refresh our memories.

*Lastly, did you realize the Lakers first pre-season game in on October 4th (in London, btw)?  That’s 24 days away.  The countdown is officially here as we’re within a month of actual Lakers’ basketball being back.

*One last lastly – this may or may not interest any of you, but a little while back I answered some questions about basketball in general and some other “getting to know you” types of questions over at the Click this link if you want to know (amongst other things) my fondest sports memory growing up (here’s a hint, it involves the Lakers downing the Celtics).

Darius Soriano

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