Should Kobe Bryant Guard Point Guards More Often?

Darius Soriano —  February 28, 2011

Defending point guards has long been an issue for the Lakers. Derek Fisher is a good defender is several ways – he’s a bulldog fighting through screens, he’s still a master at drawing offensive fouls, and there are few players I’d trust more as the last man back in a 2 on 1 or 3 on 1 situation for the opposition – but man on man/on an island defense against the PG’s of the NBA is an area where Fisher struggles.

And there’s no shame in that. This is a golden era for point guard with names like Paul, Williams, Rose, Westbrook, Rondo, Nash, and Parker on the docket on any given night. You throw in less established/young players like Curry, Lawson, Brooks, Jennings Evans, and Wall or veteran leaders like Kidd, Billups, Harris, Nelson, Baron, Miller, and Calderon and there’s really not a night off for guys what have to defend this position.

The fact is, though, that the Lakers must do better when defending these players. PER isn’t a perfect stat, but it is a very good all encompassing one for measuring a player’s efficiency (mostly on offense). The league average PER for PG’s is 13.74 (per HoopData). Derek Fisher allows PG’s to sport a PER of 19.7 every night. Steve Blake allows a PER of 17.9. For comparisons sake, Paul Pierce has a PER of 19.5 and Danny Granger has a PER of 17.9. Both of those players are recent all-stars at their respective positions and the Lakers allow PG’s to perform at that level of efficiency nearly every night.

The question then is what do the Lakers do about it?

In certain instances, the Lakers have found a solution. They use Kobe Bryant to defend PG’s. Just yesterday Kobe marked Russell Westbrook whenever they shared the court. Since the 2008 Finals he’s been deployed the same way against Rajon Rondo. Throughout his career he’s been used to guard Jason Kidd, Deron Williams and Tony Parker in stretches and if the Lakers need a stop or want to switch up their scheme, I wouldn’t doubt if we see this tactic resurface. So, should the Lakers go to this more often?

Answering that question isn’t as easy as you might think. First, the cons:

  • Kobe is older now and can’t be expected to chase around the waterbug PG’s of the league. Having to do this will force him to expend energy that is better directed towards offense.
  • Kobe’s never been the best player in fighting over screens and the P&R is the predominant set that PG’s use in order to initiate offense when they’re the best player/playmaker for their team.
  • Kobe is known to wander on defense and some of these PG’s represent the better shooters in the league.

Now, some pro’s:

  • Kobe, when engaged, is still one of the better perimeter defenders in the league. He’d need to be engaged if guarding the opposing PG and thus we’d see higher quality D.
  • Kobe’s a master of using angles in basketball and his ability to funnel ball handlers is a given direction is an underrated part of his individual defense.
  • Kobe has very good size and thus can lay off PG’s while still being a defensive presence in contesting shots and passes.
  • By putting Kobe on the opposing PG’s the opposition must account for Kobe on defense in a different way than their normal game plan would dictate.

That last point, to me, is a major plus in the argument for this to happen. One of the smarter writers out there is Zach Lowe at SI’s the Point Forward. Here’s a note he made about Russell Westbrook and the Thunder offense from yesterday’s game in his Monday Musing’s column:

The Thunder were clearly confident that Westbrook could attack Kobe Bryant on pick-and-rolls, and they ran that play to death in the first half. And you could see Durant becoming frustrated; at one point during a Westbrook-dominant stretch, Durant came open at the top of the arc as Westbrook dribbled on the wing, and he began hopping and waving his arms to get the ball.  Westbrook didn’t pass, and Durant stopped hopping, deflated. Having two great players is fantastic, obviously, but the Thunder are still figuring out how to find the tricky balance between a scoring point guard and a scoring wing player.

And this is from a column Zach wrote following the last Lakers/Celtics game:

And if you look at every Boston possession over the last five minutes of the game, you’ll see that the Celtics had essentially given up trying to run their normal offense against this strategy. The Celtics took the ball out of Rondo’s hands and had their veteran players initiate the offense down the stretch. The Lakers, in other words, turned the point guard into a finisher rather than a creator, and Boston’s offense is built around Rondo serving as the creator.

You see, when the Lakers put Kobe on the opposing PG, an adjustment occurs. The Thunder tried to attack him more often and thus went away from their scoring champion SF (who, if fully disclosing, was being handcuffed by Ron Artest) in order to try and get baskets. Meanwhile, the C’s inverted their entire offense by having Pierce initiate and Rondo become the spot up shooter. Ultimately, neither of these approaches worked and the Lakers – who have been using this tactic against these teams for the past year (or more) – won both games and have also defeated both teams in last year’s playoffs.

So, it’s obvious that this is a technique that works. Should the Lakers go to it more? Do the pros outweigh the cons? I don’t have a definitive answer here and there are other considerations not mentioned (is there a non offensive threat for Fisher/Blake to guard?) but this may be an issue that needs further exploring. I know that Phil is big on roles and that disrupting the defensive identity of the team may not be needed at this point in the season, but if the Lakers end up facing elite PG’s in the playoffs (which is almost a given) don’t be surprised if we see this switch occur. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time.

Darius Soriano

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to Should Kobe Bryant Guard Point Guards More Often?

  1. Which begs the question then of how other teams will counter this move. Since this won’t be the first time, I can’t see someone as smart as Pop not anticipating it and coming up with a counter. His team is veteran enough to implement it.

    OKC might be still young enough and Brooks not seasoned enough to come up with and implement an effective counter.

    Boston, Doc isn’t a great x’s and o’s guy and none of the staff has a great reputation as an offensive mind, they’re more defensive oriented.

    Once again, it’s back to Laker’s old nemisis the Spurs who have the pedigree and personnel to be able to counter this adjustment.


  2. I think the lakers should have kobe defend more pg’s. But it’s going to depend on the opposing two guard and what type of pg is in. I wouldn’t want kobe chasing around guys like brook, lawson and cp3. Kobe does a lot better against bigger pg’s like Deron Williams and Westbrook.

    But the key to defending the pick isn’t necessarily kobe not fighting through screens (of course it’ll help), but the big has to step up and discourage the drive and jumpshot and allow kobe time that needed second or two to recover. Bynum did a really good job of that against westbrook, Pau would lay off to much and get stuck in a kind of no mans land. Westbrook would just pull up for the jumper or attack the rim. Guys like westbrook, rose, and williams aren’t afraid to attack the rim as along as Dwight is the guy waiting because they just take it right into the body of the big guy and get the foul.

    So I wouldn’t mind Kobe guarding the pg a bit more as long as the Big men know how to defend the P and R.

    Another strategy is play Blake a bit more. He’s a decent defender and guys just don’t blow past him every possession. Blake fights other guys and often makes the offensive player go to their second or third move.


  3. “but man on man/on an island defense against the PG’s of the NBA is an area where Fisher struggles.”

    Understatement of the Year!

    As for Kobe guarding PGs, I think it only works against PGs with terrible jump shots. They can’t be just average, like Tony Parker or Derrick Rose, they have to be terrible. Kobe is just not good at crowding a PG, and he’s not the best shot contester. So Kobe guarding PGs really only works if when the PG gets the ball, there’s one place he’s going: to the rim.

    Westbrook is also best for Kobe because he has absolutely no mid-range game. According to HoopData, Westbrook takes 6.7 shots at the rim per game, compared to 2.2, 2.5, 4.4, and 1.2, from <10, 10-15ft, 16-23ft, and Threes, respectively. Percentage-wise, he shoots 58.1% at the rim compared to 28.9%, 39%, 37%, and 44.6% eFG from three. For comparison, Kobe shoots 65.2% at the rim, and 48.9%, 52.2%, 39%, and 47.3% eFG from three (extremely low for him).

    For similar reasons, the Kobe treatment works on Rondo as well. However, if we go against a PG that can shoot at all, like Chris Paul or Tony Parker, Kobe will not be able to contain their jumpshots.


  4. What do you guys think of Bibby? He has agreed to a buyout with the Wizards.

    “Sources” say the Lakers are interested and have made contact.


  5. @1. The Spurs are one team where this strategy won’t work consistently. Parker doesn’t torch Fish in every game, and we can put Kobe on Manu or R-Jeff. Perhaps in certain situations, we’ll try Kobe on Parker.

    I can see us putting Kobe on Andre Miller if we play Portland, even though Wesley Matthews torched Fish last week. As for Dallas, Kobe’s one guy we might want to consider putting on Jason Terry in the 4th quarter. Terry is one of the best crunch-time scorers in the league, and I’d much rather see Kobe guard him than Fish down the stretch of a close game.


  6. I love it when Kobe catches point guards on a cross-match.

    Post-up; command double-team.

    I think, in the long run, it’s not something the Lakers want to employ regularly, day-in and day-out. It’s better for Kobe to conserve his energy and preserve his body.

    It’s best to keep this in the back pocket.


  7. @3. All this angst about our PG position could have been alleviated by signing Dorell Wright in the off-season instead of Steve Blake. That still bugs me, although Blake has been playing a lot better since the break.


  8. Speaking of PGs…

    Tony Parker out 2-4 weeks…I doubt it’s enough to supplant their #1 seed, but at least the Spurs have now had an injury. Not that I root for injuries, but any type of vulnerability is music to my ears at this point.


  9. I think the strategy only works if their is another player that Fisher can adequately (by a very loose definition) defend.

    It works very well against OKC and BOS only because Fisher has a decent match-up. To defend Ray Allen only requires constant energy and fighting through screens to get a hand up and contest. Fisher does this very well. To defend Sefolosha typically doesn’t require much as he isn’t a great shooter and won’t put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket either.

    Both situations were essentially ideal as we could upgrade the PG defense with Kobe instead and not lose much at the other position.

    But when the opposition has a decent SG the Lakers are very much in trouble. In fact, in last years playoffs the Thunder were significantly outscored when Sefolosha was on the floor but flipped the results and significantly outscored the Lakers when Harden was on the floor. Two athletic guards made it impossible to hide Fisher and the Lakers paid for it. Thankfully Scott Brooks never caught on and kept playing Thabo.


  10. I would have phrased the question a little differently. I don’t think it is a quesiton of if he should guard the PG more, but when and against who he should do it.

    As Zephid pointed out, it depends on who the PG is. Against Boston, it makes total sense. For one, you don’t want Kobe chasing Allen around screens all game long. Secondly, Rondo can’t shoot.

    So, I don’t see it as a quesiton of how much, but of the matchups.

    In defense of our PGs – I was stoked about the Blake signing. He’s had a rough go, but I like what I am seeing since the break. I think he is going to be ok. When and only when the Lakers lose as series because of Fish, I will join the chorus callng for his ouster.

    If the Lakers lose this year, it is not going to be because they were beat by a point guard.


  11. Dude,

    I hear you – I was hoping, nay praying for it myself!
    What about this year? I like Tayshaun Prince a lot. His ball-handling skills and FG% (including 3 PT FG%) are on par with Fisher, but when it comes to defense, he would be on a whole other planet..
    OJ Mayo may not be bad either. Memphis was practically giving him away. If his stock is that low…we can all dream, can’t we?


  12. Wow! Corey Brewer just got waived by the Knicks. He isn’t the best shooter out there, but is a good defender with hops (remember the jam on Fisher?).
    Definitely like him more than Bibby!!


  13. Couldn’t agree with you more Walter. The way I would play the Lakers is by using two athletic guards to attack both Kobe and Fisher. That’s why I think San Antonio is best suited to beat the Lakers in a 7 game series. With Manu and Parker on the floor you can’t hide Fisher AND Kobe can’t resort to his “free safety” defense.

    I never understood the strategy of playing non-offensive factors at the guard positions against the Lakers.


  14. One, I don’t think it’s something we should try in the regular season, especially before ASG. I don’t want Kobe tiring nor other teams planning actively against it.

    Two, it obviously only works if their SG can’t torch Fisher. Thankfully there aren’t that many 1-2 combinations that makes me worry about it. Boston’s Allen isn’t the type to try beat Fisher off the dribble as much.

    Three, just like everything else, it has diminishing returns tied to reason one. Kobe’s legs, opponents getting used to it, and even Kobe’s attention span perhaps.

    Four, Fisher is not that bad in funnelling… i think the opposing PG PER has to do with Bynum not being healthy for the entire season, and also with the team not rotating as well some times (resulting in easy assists which also increase PER).

    All in all, I think it’s a good mix-up plan, something we should use as often as we’d use a full court press.


  15. I’m definitely with Zephid on this one. The think about Kobe is, he tends to see the big picture in defensive schemes instead of having the ability to focus on the small details of stopping one guy. This is one of the main reasons Phil began to put KB on Rondo back in ’08. We’ve seen Kobe get beat on several occasions trying to guard slashing wings who move well without the ball (i.e. a Ray Allen or Rip Hamilton), so why not put him on Rondo? He can sag off of Rondo to, not just because of Rondo’s quickness, but it puts him in better positions to help when Rondo moves the ball. Also, since Rondo is the dominant ball handler, he doesn’t have to worry about being beat back door too often. These same ideologies transferred over in the Thunder series and have worked to varying degrees.

    However, these defensive principles aren’t new to the Lakers and are employed against most teams in the league, just at different positions. Most nights, Kobe matches up against the wing with the least scoring threat. While a lot of the credit for this obviously goes to Ron, the fact still remains that Kobe is about the big picture, and is much more comfortable being able to sag of his man and help others (like when he guards Grant Hill in Phoenix).


  16. Dude, amen and all that. Wright or Livingston were on my preseason list. Neither one are in MVP considerations at the moment but Blake’s timidity is baffling.


  17. @4 Bibby is shooting 43.5% from 3 for the season and has playoff experience from his Sacramento days. As was so articulately discussed in this article the Lakers could not possibly defend PGs any worse.

    If Bibby can be had for the prorated vets min then it would be crazy for the Lakers not to take a serious look at signing him. The only reason I see the Lakers not signing him would be due to PJ’s reluctance to play “new” players this late in the season.


  18. The “sag-off” defense is such a Jedi-mind trick…gotta love it. When he employs it against Rondo, you can almost hear Rondo’s inner voice of doubt.

    I was always intrigued by guys like Ariza (maybe Ebanks now, and maybe Corey Brewer if we’re interested), who are 6’8″ plus and can guard quick point guards. I think Ariza once was put on CP3 and did a great job on him. The only problem with Ebanks and Brewer is that they’re clueless on offense.

    So far Kobe’s free-safety defense has worked wonders. But if we see Orlando, Chicago, New York, No. 24 will probably be guarding the shooting guard.


  19. Chris Broussard is reporting Bibby is signing with the Heat so X that off your wish list. Brewer makes more sense to me in case Artest pulls a Charlie Sheen in the playoffs on us.


  20. Clarification – I don’t think we can use Brewer this year. Between the intricacies of the triangle offense (which he has had exposure to) and the fact that we actually have good players at the wings, I don’t think he will get any PT.

    I’m more excited about the possibility of adding a top 10 pick, who has the potential to be another lock-down defender, to our squad for the future.

    He could be another Ariza in the making for us. Ariza wasn’t known as a great shooter either, and Brewer has the experience of winning two NCAA titles.

    At the very least he could be an upgrade over Luke!
    Another ‘B’ to add to the killer Bees 🙂


  21. Didn’t Brewer run the triangle for a season in Minnie under Clark Kent? It’s Dr. Buss’ money not mine, but, a long perimeter player capable of defending multiple positions seems like a good move.


  22. I too think Brewer could follow Ariza’s path on a team with veteran leadership and a well-defined role. And maybe Kobe still has that shooting manual lying around somewhere.

    Getting back to defending PGs, I agree that match-ups should dictate the strategy. A question to you guys who can see every game and know where to find all the line-ups and their efficiency: has Phil ever gone to a line-up of Brown at PG and Kobe at SG? In theory, Brown could be a solid match-up against guys like Deron Williams, Rose or Jameer Nelson, the stronger type of PGs that Fisher has the body but not the speed to cover. Has he been used on those guys, maybe successfully?

    Also, the Lakers do have the roster to put up a 3-guard/wing front that could switch a lot of those screens. Thinking back to MJ’S Bulls, him, Ron Harper, and Pippen could probably switch a lot without causing too many bad mismatches. Kobe, Brown and Barnes for example or maybe Artest (some concerns about foot speed there) could all probably guard each other’s assignment in a pinch. I for one would like to see that for a few minutes, and with Odom joining them at the 4 there would still be enough ball-handling and size.


  23. I think Kobe will defend point guard in the playoffs, especially game 1. In regular season, it’s hard to do it,because Kobe has to score too.Boston made mistake to let Posey,and Tony Allen go,now they have to find a player to guard Kobe. Lakers lost a game in Orlando, we saw Turgolu with his size gave Kobe difficult times to shoot over him. If Westbrook won’t change his style, Oklahoma won’t go deep in the playoffs, he tried to shoot over 7-footer Gasol while Ikaba was open.


  24. I would definitely support picking up Brewer. He had a full year and a half of triangle under Rambis in Minnesota, plus he’s super athletic and an excellent defender. If he’s willing to take the minimum, I’d say we have to do it. There’s literally no downside and a ton of upside. Plus Brewer is a 3 yr vet, so his minimum salary is a measly $885k, which is further reduced by pro-rating over the course of the remaining season.

    As for Wright, I don’t think he could play at the PG spot. Via 82games, Wright’s assist/bad pass ratio is 2.7, has a passing rating of 2.5, and a hands rating of 13.5. For comparison, Fisher is 3.6, 4.7, 20.4, while Kobe is 3.4, 7.3, and 18.0. Say what you want about him not needing to handle the ball, but Fisher being able to bring the ball upcourt takes a huge load off Kobe.

    However, Blake has been abysmal so I agree that Wright would’ve been a better pickup. I just don’t believe it would be as picture perfect as some would believe.


  25. Oh man, plus if we pick up Brewer, there’s absolutely no reason for Phil Jackson to ever play Luke Walton again, ever! Addition via subtraction!


  26. With Barnes’ impending return, I have a hard time seeing Mitch justify picking up Brewer. That would be a tough conversation with Buss. I think Buss wouldn’t be opposed to spending the money on a minimum salary as long as it’s a skill set that isn’t already duplicated.

    For all this talk about Blake’s performance, I wonder if there’s a way to isolate his impact on the offense outside his lack of shooting. One of the reasons his pickup was deemed important was his ability to run the offense and keep the flow. Something Farmar struggled with.

    Wright would have been great with his shooting and D but what impact would it have had on the rest of the bench? Would Shannon be more inconsistent? Would Barnes have less of an impact?

    Blake’s horrid shooting is the most visible impact. But is he helping the team in other ways? What about in defensive rotations? Another area Farmar struggled in.


  27. Yeah, not saying Wright would have been picture perfect. I just think that signing him and letting him play PG in the summer and again during the exhibition season could have gotten him ready for the regular season. His defense and 3-pt shooting could have made up for his ballhandling deficiencies, and if the latter turned out to be too big of a flaw, we could have paired him with Lamar in any lineup.


  28. @Zephid

    Ha ha! I’m not entirely convinced that Ebanks isn’t already better than Walton 🙂


  29. Ebanks looked excellent in garbage time vs the Clips Friday, for what that’s worth.


  30. Wow now Broussard is reporting that the Heat are the leading candidate to pick up Troy Murphy. I hate bandwagon players, I know they just want to ride the coat tails of great players to get a ring but come on this is ridiculous.


  31. This is a tough one. There’s not a single poster here that’s not at least a little tired of seeing the elite point guards of the NBA blowing by Fisher. That said, I’d hate to see the Lakers waste the Mamba’s energy on the defensive end unless it gives them a very strong chance at foiling the opponent’s game plan.

    To me they should consider two and a half conditions before deciding to implement this strategy.

    The first I’d say is who is the man Fisher would have to guard other than the point guard and how big of a part of the offense is he? Asking him to stick to spot up shooters like Ray Allen makes sense as he is so good at muscling himself through screens. Against some teams (personel-wise) this doesn’t make sense; IMO one example is Memphis. Trying to imagine Fish guarding a slashing/create-off-the-dribble 2-guard or small forward gives me nightmares and if I recall Mike Conelly has had some strong outings against the Lakers.

    The other condition would be how dominant scorer the other team has at either the 4 or 5. The bigs would have an easier time helping Fish out if they didn’t have to worry about defending an elite post scorer. . . Would somebody please help me with an example of a playoff contending team that has a point guard that kills us but no big men to dump the ball to?

    Sorry fellas – my 2 cents lost all steam in the end.


  32. i like brewer’s athleticism as well, but I don’t know if the lakers play fast enough to take advantage of that.

    i can envision him deflecting passes and creating transition opportunities with steals, though.

    he’s definitely looking for minutes, though. young guy like him will want to showcase his talent and earn a nice contract in free agency.


  33. I agree with Zephid, getting brewer would be a win-win acquisition for the Lakers.


  34. I think Buss needs to pick up at least one player off the waiver wire. I’d love for that player to be Troy Murphy, but getting him quality minutes would be difficult.

    Brewer is an intriguing option, but one guy I’d like for us to get is Kelenna Azubuike. He just got waived by the Knicks and is a legit 3 point threat who can play the 2 and 3 spots. I watched him play a lot on the Warriors and the dude can ball.

    Of course, this pickup may not pay dividends this year as he hasn’t played a game all season while recovering from injury, but rumor has it that he is ready to come back to the court so at worst we would have a a career 40% 3 pt shooter to check out for the rest of the season and possibly resign on the cheap for next season.

    If Brewer can’t be had, which is most likely the case, then we should go for Azubuike. If nothing more than for insurance if ShanWow leaves in the offseason.

    And if we don’t get him then we better pick up Gadzuric or Kapono since Ratliff probably won’t be able to ever play again and our 3 pt shooting needs a reliable shooter off the bench.


  35. 32, Ariza single-handedly injected athleticism into the Laker lineup in 08-09. I remember so many games where the Lakers easily got two extra possessions due to his defense and hustle.

    I think Brewer is the best option because he’s already familiar with the triangle. Anyone else would have to learn it on the fly, which only Shannon did and he didn’t even know it that well.


  36. 1 – I think the simplest adjustment is to just have Parker and Ginobili on the floor together. Our strategy hinges on Fisher being able to guard the 2-guard. He can hide on Thabo, muscle up Harden, and even chase Ray Allen around – but there’s no way on Earth Fisher can guard Manu. So I don’t think it’d be an effective strategy against SA.

    Edit: This is why I should read the rest of the comments before posting mine. People already covered this fairly well.


  37. 34 – I had no idea Azubuike was waived, I’ve always been extremely high on his game. I think Darius even mentioned him a couple years ago as a possible candidate for trying a “non-traditional” PG next to Kobe, to take care of our PG problem. I wonder about the state of his injury, and if he can’t help us this year, then is it worth it?…but I’d hate to pass on a guy that physically gifted.

    Brewer also sounds like a great pickup. His shooting improved after working with Thorpe; although I haven’t seen his shot within the last year, I’d imagine that indicates his shot is “fixable” – look at what Kobe did for Ariza’s shot.

    If both are available I’d rather have Kelenna over Brewer (a bit more proven than potential), but either one would bring a huge dose of athleticism that we sorely need.


  38. Zephid, not gonna happen because Buss already hates our payroll as it is. Even in spite of this, Brewer would effectively get no PT once Barnes returns – which is soon, apparently.

    Like Chownoir said, he provides a duplicate skill set that Barnes already produces for us.


  39. Definitely n agreement with several of the commentators who state that it depends on matchups n regards to Kobe guarding a 1. As Zephid basically mentioned, it would be mission impossible if the PG that he’s assigned to cover is an accurate jump-shooter. Even more so if the opponent possesses tremendous speed. In such a case (great speed, along with perimeter accuracy), Kobe would not be able to keep up with nor close out fast enough on the opposition at this point of his career. Based on this logic, this is how I see it (Western Conference Playoff Contenders only):

    Spurs/Tony Parker = No (Too much speed, experience and a good jump-shooter)

    Mavs/Jason Kidd = Yes (Average speed, non athletic and a so-so jump-shooter)

    Thunder/Westbrook = Yes (Excellent speed but inexperienced and not a good jump-shooter)

    Blazers/Miller = Yes (No speed, non athletic and a so-so jump-shooter)

    Hornets/Paul = No (Too much speed, excellent decision maker and a good jump-shooter)

    Grizzlies/Conley = Yes (Excellent speed but inexperienced and a so-so jump-shooter)

    Nuggets/Lawson = No (Too much speed. Just way too much speed)

    Jazz/Harris = No (Too much speed and a good jump-shooter)

    Suns/Nash = No (Good speed, tremendous decision maker and excellent jump-shooter)

    Keep n mind that I’m basing this solely on his ability to defend the Point Guard Position and not taking n to account the PG’s backcourt mate.


  40. Tra – I agree pretty much with that entire list. I think Kobe can guard Parker in very brief stretches (I know he’s done it very effectively as recently as 3 years ago), but enough of his speed has slipped that I don’t want to see it for long stretches, even if Manu isn’t in the game. Otherwise, in complete agreement.


  41. Tra, you’re forgetting the SG Fisher has to guard, and PGs Fisher can guard.

    So No on J.Kidd (Fisher could guard him), no on Miller (Roy will kill Fish), maybe on Conley (how will Mayo do against Fish, although he seems to have fallen out of favor)…

    In other words, out west, it’s just OKC where it might work.


  42. I’d be a little surprised if the team picked up anyone at this point, after they stood pat and did nothing at the trade deadline. I actually don’t care for Bibby’s corpse, and Brewer/Azubuike aren’t exactly high-IQ players who could pick up the system, much less play PG. We’re gonna head into battle with Fish, and I’m willing to live and die by that man. He has more than earned my trust.


  43. The question is not so much how well Kobe would do guarding them, but whether or not he would be better than Fisher.


  44. 42 – I don’t question that we will be going to battle with Fish, Blake, and Brown as our guard rotation along with Kobe. I don’t think there’s a waiver pickup that we could make that would crack that rotation, at least not with so little time in left in the season. Especially with Bibby gone, but he’s just a slower Blake with worse defense and a quicker trigger.

    However, I think getting a wing who can consistently shoot the 3 while playing decent defense would be huge for us. Which is why I think Azubuike would be a good pick up to plug in when we need some shooting to space the floor. If we play Dallas in the playoffs (a Zone heavy team) we are going to need some zone busters to help open up the paint.

    I don’t expect Azubuike to play the point, just hit open 3’s. Same goes for Kapono. As for Brewer. Guy has potential, but his jumpshot is broke and has actually gotten worse since last year. Besides, I think Ebanks could potentially wind up having a better career than Brewer.

    Either way, I hope we get a 3 shooter or a big man to help shore up the bottom of the bench with eyes toward next year.


  45. Darius,
    Now that we are fb friends I must say… That was one of the best basketball write ups I’ve ever read. Honestly… I’m not overstating it. It was everything a basketball piece should be. It hit every possible topic in great detail. Here are my pros and cons…

    * Derek is an awful one on one defender

    * Kobe is an awful team defender (he needlessly leaves his man open too often)

    * if Kobe guards PGs he will lose a lot of energy on the offensive end and Derek will be undersized against a SG

    In the end I wouldn’t have Kobe ever guard a PG unless it’s the playoffs and it’s going to be a competitive series. Kobe isn’t a young pup… Not only will it expend too much energy… But he isn’t as good at guarding PGs as he used to be. The real solution is acquiring a SG or tall PG to play in the backcourt with Bryant. SGs or tall PGs are the only players that have the length to effectively guard the talented PGs of the NBA. Shannon Brown might fit the bill.


  46. I may catch flak for this but Sasha would be good insurance to have going into the playoffs. I know his contract wasn’t equitable and the machine wasn’t always efficient but he was an above average defender with size. He plays pesky defense and hustles so he’s getting burn with the Nets…more than Farmar. Money aside I think Sasha’s of more value to the roster than Joe Smith right now.



  47. @45/46: All we need is a time machine to go pick up 1996 Ron Harper and we’re set.


  48. #46. I don’t disagree with you there. The Sasha trade was all about money and reducing excess on the payroll. At the time it looked like Joe Smith might be able to play some minutes at C while Ratliff healed and Bynum got back into game shape but that hasn’t happened. Moving forward it seems Phil would rather give Caracter spot minutes instead of playing Smith as well. Essentially, Smith plays about as much as Ammo did.

    This isn’t to say that Sasha would play any more than what he was before but he’s surely more useful moving forward than Smith will be.


  49. #37. You have a good memory. He’s not ideal, but he has the requisite skill set to fill that role. The issue would be defense since he’s not known as the quickest player and having to guard some of the better PG’s would be a challenge – but he wouldn’t be alone there.

    Offensively he has the skillset needed, though. Good enough ball handler, good shooter, and enough size (and before the injury, athleticism) to finish inside on the cuts and post up chances that every player has available to them in the Triangle.


  50. 46, then again, Steve Blake seems like an ideal triangle PG in terms of skillset. Good ball-handler, good defender, good three point shooter on paper. Hasn’t materialized so well…


  51. Whoa. The Thunder wasted no time. Perkins locked up to a 4 year extension already?

    50 – Every time we think we’ve found the heir at PG, the person ends up dramatically undershooting expectations. I’m fairly sure by this point that Derek Fisher uses some voodoo to keep the PG spot locked down, only he calls it “intangibles.”


  52. 50, Zephid, Blake’s shooting has been bad, but has his ball handling and defense really been below expectations?

    I’ve been pretty disappointed at his shooting as I loved the summer pickup and defended it against my skeptical friends. Who by the way are now throwing it in my face repeatedly.

    But the other aspects of his games doesn’t seem to have suffered. Granted his lack of shooting aggressiveness does hamper the offense at times. But he seems to play well within the D scheme and there’s less volatility with leads disappearing quickly unlike Farmar.

    The analogy I liked to use with Blake vs Farmar was that Jordan was more of a homerun or strikeout kind of guy. Blake more of an on base kind of guy. On a team full of run producers, you don’t need someone like Farmer. But someone more like Blake to get on.

    Problem is, Blake has been so passive with his shot. Which is weird as I can’t see Kobe/Phil getting mad at him if he takes the shot within the context of the offense.


  53. Don’t forget Fisher knocked Van Exel out of the starting spot in…1999? Granted it was because Van Exel had been hurt, and he opted to come off the bench when he got back because of how well the team had been playing with Fisher starting.

    But still, Nicky Van Smack was often the Lakers’ best player in those pre-Shaq/Kobe years.


  54. thisisweaksauce March 1, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Snoopy (51),

    Didn’t the Celtics offer a similar extension? If so, why would Perkins turn that one down?


  55. #54. OKC used a provision in the CBA to use their cap space to raise Perkins’ salary *this* season. They then used that higher dollar figure as the basis for his contract extension. Boston didn’t have any cap space to do the same thing and thus their contract extension offer was lower than the one that OKC was able to put on the table. I believe the difference in dollars over the life of the deal is in the 10-14 million dollar range (I think the C’s extension was 4yrs/22 million and OKC’s is 4yrs/34 million).

    So, to answer your question, the difference is – as it usually is in these cases – cold hard cash.


  56. #54. Also, to further clarify, there are provisions in the CBA that limit how much an *extension* can be for in terms of starting salary in comparison to what a player currently makes. This is why Boston couldn’t offer more than what they did to Perkins – they were limited in how high they could go based off the rules of the CBA. However, that’s also why they offered him an extension rather than waiting for his contract to expire and then negotiating with him when he became an unrestricted free agent. If Perk became an UFA, Boston would have owned his Bird Rights and could have offered him the max. You can bet that Perk would have been looking for a big payday that Boston likely wouldn’t have wanted to pay.

    Boston also was likely looking to use the looming CBA negotiations as leverage to get Perk to sign a deal now, with both sides knowing that the new CBA may limit contracts in a way that current deals are not. It’s in everone’s best interest to get a deal done now but Boston didn’t have the same money to give that a team like OKC – one with cap space to raise his salary *now* – could give him. Thus, the quick extension from him (not to mention that today was the last day for OKC to make such a move). For more information on this, visit a great site called Sham Sports and read this. (All the way at the bottom where the Perkins extension is discussed.)


  57. thisisweaksauce March 1, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Darius (55, 56),

    That was quick. Really appreciate it.


  58. Darius – This is interesting, I forgot Boston’s offer had been the max they could offer. Color me a little confused. There’s a provision in the CBA that lets teams with cap space change the structure of current player contracts? So, if I understand you correctly, if Perkins was making $4 mil in his last year with Boston, OKC has the ability to inflate that salary to something like $5-6 midseason? That’s fascinating, I’ve never heard of that before. I thought there were rules in place to prevent restructuring of NBA contracts.

    Looks like Murphy to the Celtics.


  59. #58. Snoopy,
    Indeed, there is. Apparently few teams use it but the caveat is you need cap space to up the salary in that year. Really though, this makes sense because just like there’s a spending limit/ceiling (albeit in the form of a soft cap), there’s also a floor/minimum spending amount. If a team has a full roster but is below the spending floor, they’ll need a way to get above that amount without committing a trade or waiving a player to sign a more expensive one (why put a team in a position to change a roster they like if you can allow them to pay their guy more in a given year?).

    Apparently, it’s a rarely used provision (as Sham Sports notes in the article I linked to above) but it does exist. I would not be surprised if Presti (who is a smart guy) knew what he was going to do once he acquired Perkins in terms of making a solid contract extension offer and how he could use this provision to up the offer that the C’s had on the table.