Player Comparisons, Leadership, & Other Thoughts

Darius Soriano —  July 6, 2011

*I’ve always thought one of the great testaments to a player’s game is when an incoming draftee is labled the next version of you. I remember when Billy Owens was called the next Magic Johnson or when countless players were called the next Michael Jordan. Well, we’re now at the point where prospects are being called the next Kobe Bryant. And while smart analysis says otherwise and even the player himself has shied away from the comparison, it gives me a little smile to hear that monicker tossed out there. To me it means that a player’s imprint on the game is so strong that others see those qualities in up and coming prospects. This just serves as another reminder to appreciate what we have in #24 while we have it.

*Speaking of Kobe, an interesting read on his father Joe “Jellybean” Bryant.

*Derek Fisher is a natural leader and, I think, the best representative the players union could have in the negotiations with the league. Go check out what he had to say about the lockout and the state of the negotiations with the owners. A part of his interview that I found particulary interesting:

Like I just stated, progress is made the more times you have the opportunity to sit down and work with each other. Progress isn’t always similar to the game of basketball. … Trying to just tell how somebody played based on their stats or how many points they scored isn’t always the true value of that person’s game. In this process, just because we don’t have a deal done right now, doesn’t mean the months that we’ve put into this process prior to now have been wasted.

This exact description is how I’d probably talk about Fisher’s value as a player too. It’s not always the boxscore that tells the story, but the little things that ultimately lead to the victory. Here’s hoping Fish can come up clutch in these negotiations the way that he has in so many big games.

*Speaking of the lockout, both sides are in the wrong here and would do well to seek out a compromise rather than a full out win. That said, if you’re a Laker fan, you should probably be rooting for the players to get as much of a win as they can in these negotiations. Because if the owners get their way, the Lakers will be hit hard by several of the parity seeking proposals currently on the table.

*Last lockout note: when it comes to the league’s financials, one of the sides isn’t telling the truth.

*Last night I was watching NBA TV and they were showing the Jordan “Flu Game” from the 1997 Finals. Rewatching that game two things were abundantly clear. First, Scottie Pippen was a major key to every bit of success the Bulls had on both sides of the floor. He handled the ball, ran the break, finished inside off drives, posted up, guarded mutliple positions, and showed unparralelled help defense ability. Such a fantastic player.

Second, I’m going to miss the Triangle Offense. Watching the Bulls zip the ball around, run all the actions of Tex Winters’ sets, and get the type of looks that allowed them to erase a huge first half deficit was a sight to see. With Phil retiring (again), the only team left running the Triangle is Minnesota. But with Ricky Rubio coming over and Rambis’ job security twisting in the wind, that won’t last long.

*Happy 31st Birthday to Pau Gasol. Shall your time in Spain and play with the Spanish National Team get you prepared for next season’s chase towards the title (whenever that comes).

Darius Soriano

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to Player Comparisons, Leadership, & Other Thoughts

  1. I can’t argue with the results of the triangle for the Lakers when Phil/Tex ran it, but I for one am glad it is going away.

    The triangle itself just never had the flash of a traditional offense/fast break approach.

    It never felt natural. Maybe I say this clouded by watching Magic since I was a kid, but even if he didn’t exist I’d still feel this way.

    Hopefully the return of fast breaks and less confused players will translate to more wins.



  2. @2 – I guess it’s all in the eye of the beholder. Fast break basketball’s exciting to watch, for sure… but I’m also a huge fan of the triangle. Executed properly, there’s a wonderful and constantly shifting flow – a read and react system that takes both dedication and patience. I will miss it.


  3. Isn’t it great if Mike Brown could apply all kinds of offense on the book based on opponent’s weaknesses? Same with defense switching from man to zone. It requires a lot of practice and eye contact among players. Like during the time of the legends like Magic, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, the Cap and maybe include Kobe, the offense comes to them naturally by just keep on reading the moves of their guard. They have all kinds of techniques without telling them what to do at a precise moment.

    In the last WCF, it was fun to watch JJ Barea trying to look for Terry or Dirk and with one head move of Robinson, JJ is gone & found his way to the basket. Compare this to Shannon Brown’s triangle, he always slows down being conscious with the prescription of the offense, gets into lateral passing until the 24 secs. limit is about to expire, gets back the ball and execute a hurried “brick” shot. Why not use his talents in attacking the post to create opening for others? There is a great disparity in b’ball IQ between JJ and Shannon.


  4. I love the triangle, however, I recognize that it is a system that is passe. Today’s basketball player does not operate well within a system that requires them to bounce the ball, see the floor (read and react), shoot within the 3pt line or get other players involved (read and react). Hence, the triangle is no longer viable.

    A steady diet of fastbreak basketball will win games over the course of 82 and garner the best record, all the while putting patrons in the seats and purchasing team merchandise. Will that be enough to win during the playoffs? One need only look at the Heat for that answer.

    The Lakers as constituted are not designed for a run-n-gun game. A little fastbreak here and there will hope the Lakers scoring average and make it easier to win games. Fastbreaks are predicated upon defense, and when the other team scores, quickly taking the basketball out of the net and making a half court pass to a person that is already surveying the floor for areas to attack on the offensive end.

    Coach Brown will have to build his system around two 7’ers and an aging super star. It should not be daunting to rebuild an offensive and defensive scheme around this these players as they are still the top team in the league. And, if there is a shortened season the Lakers, Heat, Mavericks and Celtics will be in the best position to win the championship. I would include the Spurs (since they won after the last lockout), but I am not sure that Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli have the legs for another run.


  5. Rusty Shackleford July 7, 2011 at 6:22 am

    I doubt the Lakers will do much on the break with their current starting five. Other than the Lamar Odom coast-to-coast one man fast break I don’t think anyone on their roster is suited for it.

    That said, with the league changing to a point guard dominated game, it will be interesting to see how well they control tempo with the new offensive system.


  6. I don’t know if it’s an either or situation. Running a half court system offense doesn’t preclude having fast breaks and vice versa.

    As much as the 80’s team were known for the glitter of the fast break, they also executed very well in the half court. KAJ, Worth and of course Magic were all capable passers with high IQ that knew how to work with each other.

    The key is being opportunistic and smart. Get the board and look for the fast break immediately. If it’s there take it, if not, run the offense but at least you’ve moved the ball up into the front court quickly and still have plenty of time to run all the motions in the system.

    From the preliminary indications it seems like Brown has that kind of philosophy.

    At the very least, being aggressive early and probing as soon as the board is secured means the D doesn’t have a chance to relax. If the D knows the majority of the time the ball will be walked up the court. They have a chance to dig in instead of being back on their heels. That makes it a lot tougher on the offense.


  7. All it took was one season of not winning the championship for everyone to dump on the triangle.

    It’s definitely time to move on, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the Lakers implement a new system, but let’s not forget how LA’s triangle carved up teams this past decade. The offense in the ’09 title run was particularly beautiful basketball, unstoppable.


  8. Warren Wee Lim July 7, 2011 at 10:30 am

    2 words for D-Fish: Class Act.


  9. Well said, Chownoir…

    Between the players you mentioned, as well as something many forget — Magic and Mychal Thompson ran the pick-and-roll as well as anyone in the league.

    Just one more way those Lakers were deadly in the half-court.


  10. I have been a Laker fan since 1975, the year the Lakers stoled Kareem, and I have seen and heard all of the comparisons of this player to that player. People who are Jordan fans get these big heads that all players are compaired to him. I always hear, “I don’t see them compair them to Magic, Bird, or any other player. Let me settle this. You will never see another 6’9″ player run the point like Magic and you will never see a 6’9″ guy hustle and shoot the ball like Bird ever agian. But, you will see hundreds of guy that are 6’7” with the skill set of Jordan. When compairing to Jordan most fall short in the drive and desire aspect of his game. Kobe is the only player since Jordan left the game that has all of these and by the way he does have 5 rings and could end up with more than Jordan. (Could get closer to Russell. ) So this debate will always there soon people will start to forget about Jordan and like the article states they will compare them to Kobe, Labron, and Howard. Always remember there will always be only ONE Magic and Bird. There will HUNDREDS of Jordans.