Fast Break Thoughts

Darius Soriano —  June 29, 2011
  • Yesterday, the Lakers draft picks were introduced to the media after playing some scrimmages as part of the team’s free agent mini-camp. From that media access, we learned some interesting tidbits. Like how Darius Morris is already used to playing in front of Denzel Washington and that Andrew Goudelock doesn’t want to be called “goldilocks”.
  • What we also learned is that both players are humble yet confident. They understand that they’ll need to work hard to earn a spot but also see opportunity to compete and contribute with this team. I’m not sure I see either playing any kind of major role with this team next season, but it’s good to hear that they believe they can and that they’re willing to work to make it happen.
  • Yesterday we took a look at some free agents that could potentially be had for minimum dollars. In response to that, commenter DY mentioned former Warrior and Knick Kelenna Azubuike as another potential wing to bring in who could compete for a roster spot as a back up SG. I bring this up now because he’s an excellent name to keep tabs on as the summer progresses. He’s had a myriad of injury issues and who knows if he’ll be able to play next year. But, if healthy, he’s a good shooter, plays hard on both ends, and is the type of solid role player that you win with.
  • Not to be hard on Kevin Durant (I have the utmost respect for him and his game), but if this report is true I’m not sure what to think besides he needs to know these things. Especially as his team’s player rep.
  • What better way to celebrate the lockout than with the official Champagne of the NBA?
  • Here’s an interesting read touching on JJ Barrea and Shannon Brown and how, despite his faults, the Lakers may miss Shannon Brown should he depart in free agency.
  • Any analysis of Brown is interesting because he does bring traits to the Lakers (namely athleticism, durability, ability to create his own shot) that are positive ingredients to this team. However, his penchant for making little mistakes on both sides of the ball (like over-dribbling on O or going under screens on shooters on D) drove me crazier in each successive game. So, it’s a bit of a catch-22 with Shannon. I like what he brings to the team but want him to cut out those parts of his game that frustrate me so much. In the end, I wouldn’t mind having him back, but I’d also love a viable alternative should he deserve a trip to the dog house. Ultimately, he’s the type of player that makes enough plays where you feel you’ll miss him if he’s gone while also being average enough that you can’t believe relying on him is a good idea. Sigh.
  • Suffice to say, with no summer league and the potential for a prolonged lockout, we’re all going to have some time on our hands. So, does anyone have any good books they could recommend? Fiction or non-fiction, sports or non-sports related, it doesn’t really matter to me. I’m easily entertained.

Darius Soriano

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22 responses to Fast Break Thoughts

  1. I just read “Those Guys Have All the Fun” and enjoyed it.

  2. If you’re into food, The Making of a Chef and The Soul of a Chef. Both by Ruhlman, first one is a great inside look at going through CIA and acquiring the technical tools and transforming the mentality.

    The second one examines what makes a great chef? It’s not just technical skills.

    There’s a lot of great inside background info but I found a lot of parallels in other worlds. What is it that make people great at what they do? There’s natural talent, there’s learned technical skill. How far can you go with just one or the other. What happens when you marry those two, like Kobe does with his talent and technical proficiency.

    Ruhlman’s also a very good writer and great to see how he puts together descriptions of processes in a compelling interesting way.

    Any Raymond Chandler or Jim Thompson for great stories and prose. Although after reading them, I always feel anything I try to write is complete garbage. Chandler’s dialogue is just amazing.

    For more current mystery T Jefferson Parker. Great characters and writing.

    Alternate history where you’re learning about real history while drawn into a great story Harry Harrison’s Stars and Stripes trilogy.

    Great fantasy grounded in real historical events, any of the older Tim Powers books.
    On Stranger Tides, Anubis Gate, Drawing of the Dark, Last Call. He does a great job of using real people and events and filling the spaces in between.

    For science fiction with a twist and great human story lines, Any Spider Robinson, especially the Callahan series.

    If you’re into comics, I’d highly recommend getting the tradebacks of The Boys.

    That’s off the top of my head. Can recommend more if you give some examples of what you really like.

  3. Darius…nice post! Good to see the rookies have some confidence becuz they are going to need it.

    Shannon Brown what can we say? He has also the tools needed to play in the NBA and be a guy getting major minutes but mentally he might be a “box of rocks”. He does things out there that boggle the mind and I’m sure it had Phil ready to choke him out at times. Your right the turnovers, the lack of consistency and defensive lapses really hurt us in the playoffs. He should be able to create his own shot but the problem is he is not really polished enough to get off quality shots unless they come in the offense or on fast breaks. I think he can and if he works really hard will get these things. The problem with winning is the role players really start to think of themselves as better than they truly are. It is infectious and you start thinking you have arrived on and off the court and maybe you don’t put the work in as one should. Something happened because in what could and should have been a breakout year for Brown ended in his game regressing significantly. I like him but he has got to go now package him up Mitch and get us a PG we are trying to win championships and have no room for projects.

  4. I laughed the entire way through Keith Richards’ “Life”. Hilarious and great.

  5. Knickers, you really are stranded in the (deep) past!

    Darius, here are some (more recent) good reads: ‘Unbroken’, by Laura Hillenbrand (author of ‘Seabiscuit’); ‘Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln’ by Doris Kearns Goodwin; ‘The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood’, by Jane Leavy; ‘The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay’, by Michael Chabon; and, if you haven’t read it yet, ‘Cryptonomicon’, by Neal Stephenson.

    oh, and if you like thrillers, try the Lucas Davenport series, by John Sandford (plug for a very polished MN author)!

  6. I was thinking about posting a rec for Cryptonomicon, but since tsuwm has mentioned it above (#6), I’ve decided to post after all, if only to second his recommendation. It’s not an easy book or a short book. But it is fascinating, complex, and, at times, viciously funny.

    Some great “oral history” (not-that-new-anymore) basketball books by Terry Pluto: Loose Balls (about the ABA) and Tall Tales (about the NBA in the 60s and 50s).

  7. Oh man, I wasn’t going to recommend Cryptonomicon, but since two of you already did, let me third the recommendation. Neal Stephenson writes some amazing books.

    Others of his I’d recommend: Snow Crash, the Baroque Cycle (Quicksilver, The Confusion, The System of the World–buy the big ones, they also split the three giant books into eight paperbacks but they’re impossible to find)–which features some interplay with the characters from Cryptonomicon, 300 years before they were born. Also, Anathem, which I just finished for the third time last week. Great, great writer.

  8. Just read “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” and was totally blown away. A must read.

  9. I’m a huge Stephenson fan but no way would I recommend Cryptonomicon as an intro to his works. That’s super dense and convulted and could turn someone off Stephenson forever. The mathematics part alone can overwhelm you. Although Zephid would probably love it. Snow crash or Diamond Age would be a good start.

    Also check out Interface and The Cobweb written under his Stephen Bury name and co-written with his uncle. Those are more mainstream straight forward.

    If you ever spot his first book The Big U at a used book store, just buy it. It’s almost impossible to find and is worth it regardless of how dog eared it is. I got introduced to Stephenson in college when someone loaned me that copy. Yes, I’m that old. His second book, Zodiac is also pretty accessible. But after that, his books get steadily dense.

  10. LakerFanInCowTown June 29, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    Hi, I’m new here. I’ve read the articles referenced here about the upcoming lockout. I know it’s more complicated, but I’m totally on the players side. If the player demands $20 million a year and nobody will pay him that, then he’ll have to lower his asking price. Likewise, say he wants a 6 year contract and no one will give him more than 3 – he’s going to have to take the 3 year contract. The problem is, teams in big markets can afford to pay someone $120 mil over 6 years because they make money off of TV deals, other kinds of sales, plus they are in more desirable locations. That puts pressure on small market teams to overpay for players if they want to be competitive. I think the main problem is that all the owners want to make money but the ones making the money don’t want to share with the small market teams, they want it to come out of player salaries. I think that’s ridiculous.

  11. Wow what did I do to you Darius? I mentioned Keleeza in comment number 20 and stated that he had knee surgery (his second on the same knee) in March. He comments on his tweet that he felt the first surgery was not done properly and he feels better than before after this one. He really has not had a myriad of injuries, he just never got off the ground after the knee surgery which was his first injury. Again, when we mentioned free agents I have brought him up in every discussions. I found five instances already if you are interested in researching this one also.

    ShanWow was miscast as the second unit’s Kobe. He is not Kobe. He has no ball handling skills, his shot is suspect (even though he can get it off with ease), he shoots on the down instead of shooting at his apex (highest point), and his defense is unfortunately similar to Kobe’s in that he cheats off 3-point shooters and gets burned by it most of the time. If given the right tutoring, he can be a better defensive player. The offense should be limited to cutting and learning how to take people off the dribble to get either to the rim or learn a mid-range pull up shot.

  12. @jodial, darius

    speaking of keith richards, some of his favorite books, and mine, are the master and commander series by patrick o’brien- the best historical fiction i’ve ever read about the almost unbelievable exploits of a frigate captain during the napoleonic wars

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/24/arts/music/24richards.html

  13. “The Art of a Beautiful Game” by Chris Ballard (2009)

    Easy but informative read, with a small collection of fine photos. Includes profiles of Kobe, Nash, Battier, LBJ, Dwight Howard, and much more!

    Get the hardback if you can.

  14. A few favorite reads, “After Dark” by Haruki Murakami (great mood, very minimalist), “The Corrections” by Jonathan Franzen (National Book Award), “The Shipping News” by Annie Proulx (Pulitzer Prize), anything by Carl Hiassen but “Sick Puppy” is a good choice, and for humor, “Me Talk Pretty One Day” by David Sedaris. Agree with @3 about Thompson – one of my favorites is his novella, “This World, Then the Fireworks”. For anyone who hasn’t read it, “Sole Influence: Basketball, Corporate Greed and the Corruption of America’s Youth” by Dan Wetzel & Don Yaeger is a must… the sections on Lamar and JaRon Rush (oldest of the Rush brothers) are worth the price alone. And finally, Jim Carroll’s “The Basketball Diaries.”

  15. Gotta say, this thread is filled with choice reads. It would be kind of great to see a couple more posts like this over the long summer.

  16. If you like history, check out a book called “Bloodlands” by Timothy Snyder.

    It’s one of the best-researched books I’ve ever seen, and it tells how the commonly known details of the Holocaust don’t even tell half of the story of the atrocities Hitler and Stalin inflicted upon people in the years prior to and during World War II.

    It’s not a light read by any means, but it paints an amazing story of how cruel mankind can be when circumstances and the wrong people combine forces.

  17. A good before the lockout post Darius, this summer is going to suck, for lack (or lockout) of my two favorite sports. The book “Basketball on Paper” by Dean Oliver, was recommended to me by Kurt years ago, and it is very informative. It contains basketball stats and strategy for coaches and fans alike.

  18. 12) Good stuff…

    Excellent analysis of Browns game man.
    He is still very much a unpolished player and it showed when we needed him.

  19. #16 Choice read, I’m more fascinated with non fiction in People’s History of USA by Howard Zinn, a must read for everyone. For bathroom reading, I go for Chronicles of the World DK Pub. which I started a year ago from BC now I just reached the American Civil War. Everyday there is always a new knowledge at least two years of world history per page.

    Shannon is a diamond in a rough, he has the athleticism but needs theoretical knowledge in proper utilization of his God give attributes. I compare him to Barea seasons ago when he was just lurking as a sub for the PG. In the case of Shannon, he was asked to be Kobe in the 2nd unit in a triangle setting. Oftenly, I observed he steps on the breaks and go on lateral passing rather than attacking the basket and/or pass the ball to the open man. He gets into shooting frenzy but the touches are often moody. When he is bad, he’s worse than Derek and on good nights he soars like an unflappable eagle. He is small version of LO2, the gang of inconsistent Lakers.

  20. Read Game of thrones and than watch the show.

  21. I can’t believe no one mentioned anything by Orson Scott Card. Ender’s Game is probably, one of my favorite scifi novels. Really any of the Enderverse books are good but Ender’s Game is the best to start with. 10/10