Wednesday Storylines

Dave Murphy —  February 22, 2012

The win against Portland on Monday night felt especially satisfying, coming on the heels of Kobe’s statement of support for a teammate that’s still on the block. Players pulled together on the floor. I don’t think there’s any way you watch a team on a regular basis and fail to notice something so elemental. And then Steve Blake, bombing them in with clinical precision. A good win in many ways.

The players-only meeting that followed has been widely reported on and for good cause. Regardless of your take on the team as currently constructed, there are certain things that cannot be disputed. A large scale exodus took place after the Dallas sweep. A new coach and staff were brought in. A lockout followed. A blockbuster trade was scuttled and Lamar exited stage left. The season began and the transition has not been smooth. These things matter, and they get reported on:

Ken Berger at CBS Sports takes the matter head on, writing about a family business that is going through some sweeping changes.

Kelly Dwyer at Ball Don’t Lie further examines Berger’s take, and zeroes in on the aftermath of Phil Jackson’s reign.

The players-only meeting was reported on by Chris Broussard at ESPN.

Weighing in on the upside of the players’ action is Andy Kamenetsky at the Land O’Lakers.

Andy also has a preview up for tonight’s game against the Mavericks.

Mitch Kupchak’s reaction to Kobe’s statement is covered by Mike Bresnahan at the L.A. Times.

Kevin Ding at the OC Register wrote an in-depth article about Kobe’s purpose for airing grievances.. He also wrote a newer missing links piece out this morning.

Over at Silver Screen and Roll, C.A. Clark writes about the fall of empires.

It’s not about the today’s Lakers, but Jeff Caplan at ESPN/Dallas offers an article about Lamar Odom’s continuing struggles for the Mavericks.

In a good summation of the state of things in Lakerland, Mark Medina for the LA. Times, looks at our current crossroads.

***

The media has generally taken a wait and see attitude with Coach Mike Brown, a guy with big shoes to fill. The grace period has passed. From Brown to the epically dysfunctional Buss family to the continuing trade rumors, a perfect storm appears to be building. The irony (and perhaps the story’s saving grace) is that the players are the ones taking action. The team is doggedly hanging onto fifth place in the west and while lacking in depth, is good enough to compete in a banged-up league with a suicidal schedule. They’ll go as far as their own stewardship will take them this season. They’re at Dallas tonight, OKC tomorrow. As the wheel turns.

- Dave Murphy

Dave Murphy

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24 responses to Wednesday Storylines

  1. If you want to read real basketball writers… Hollingers is my favorite. I’m sure many of you don’t have espn insider… So I’ll post some good bits from Hollingers Lakers per diem from today…. Here ya go…
    ————————————————————————————————–
    So what’s the irony here, Alanis? It lies in the fact that the individual pieces are the antithesis of middle-the-packness. Basically, there are three kinds of Lakers: the big-time superstars who are carrying the team, the supporting cast that is dragging them down, and Matt Barnes. Barnes is the only average thing about this team, a decent workmanlike combo forward who is putting together a perfectly respectable season.

    Otherwise, the roster is all peaks and valleys. Himalayan ones. And this is why I’d argue that the Lakers may be in more trouble than they appear to be.

    As I noted in an earlier column on my “BAD” rating, the Lakers get more minutes from awful players than any other team in the league. Metta World Peace has a PER of 6.26 and Derek Fisher has one of 8.33; both of them start. Players like this usually don’t play at all, but for L.A. they’re out there all the time — only five players in the entire league have played at least 700 minutes with a PER below nine, and the Lakers employ two of them.

    The alternatives are no better. Steve Blake (9.57), Troy Murphy (9.80), Andrew Goudelock (10.69) and Josh McRoberts (9.82) have all struggled, while Jason Kapono (4.98) shouldn’t be in the league anymore.

    In one sense, that represents a great opportunity. If they can find a way to replace the awful players with ones who are merely decent, it will improve the team tremendously. This, for instance, is why the Knicks leapt forward so abruptly once Jeremy Lin cured their open sore at point guard.

    As I noted above, it would appear the Lakers’ only trade assets are ones that allow them to do things around the edges, unless they’re willing to part with one of their three stars. Of the three, Gasol is obviously the one to go — Kobe can’t be traded without his consent, and Bynum is a 24-year-old behemoth just coming into his own. If Dwight Howard becomes available, great, but otherwise Bynum is staying put.
    ————————————————————————————————–

  2. Here is The Lakers section of Hollingers famous “BAD” article that came out a week ago… I can’t beleive with just the eye ball test I said a short time ago Orlando had the second worst PGs behind the Lakers in the NBA. Man I’m good…
    —————————————————————————————-
    BAD: Worst by position
    Team Position Players BAD
    Nets Small forward Stevenson, James, Sha. Williams, Owens 7,856
    Knicks Point guard Bibby, Shumpert, Douglas 5,794
    Kings Small forward Salmons, Garcia, Outlaw 5,663
    Lakers Point guard Fisher, Blake, Goudelouck, Morris 4,925
    Timberwolves Small forward Johnson, Webster 4,749

    If you’re wondering how the Lakers are 17-12 despite having three of the best players in the league, here’s your answer. The chart shows that the Lakers lead the league in BAD, with only four players having a PER above 12. Metta World Peace leads the way with 3,553 BAD points (fifth league-wide), but the point guards and frontcourt reserves are also major contributors. In their infinite wisdom, the league’s coaches decided to punish Pau Gasol for this by keeping him off the Western Conference All-Star team.

    Orlando ranks second, with horrid point guard play the main reason, although the Magic have at least begun to remedy a bit of the problem: Larry Hughes, with a horrid minus-4.84 PER in 114 minutes, was one of the worst offenders but has been waived.

    In each case, this represents an opportunity too. If L.A. or Orlando could just acquire a league-average point guard at the trade deadline (coughRamonSessionscough), it might improve their chances considerably.
    ————————————————————————————————-

  3. The growing probable scenario of Mark Cuban adding D-12 AND D-Will to a roster which still includes Dirk over the summer is an absolute nightmare for the Lakers & their fans. If that happens do the Lakers have a viable plan “B”, ahh I mean plan “C” (since D-Will would have been “B”) ?

  4. And why did we sign Kapono again?

  5. Aaron – those stats should adjust to some degree now that Blake’s back. Curious, would you consider him a less than league-average PG? And, is your implication that the above-linked basketball writers are not “real”, as compared to Hollinger?

  6. The growing probable scenario of Mark Cuban adding D-12 AND D-Will to a roster which still includes Dirk over the summer is an absolute nightmare for the Lakers & their fans. If that happens do the Lakers have a viable plan “B”, ahh I mean plan “C” (since D-Will would have been “B”) ?
    ——————

    Need Mitch to convince ORL that Dwight’s going to walk ala Lebron and they’ll get nothing in return, whereupon we flip him for Bynum…

  7. Sorry Dave,
    My posts have nothing to do with your write up. I put them on the last write up and wanted to repost.

    Steve Blake is not an average PG in today’s NBA at this point in his career. He is an average to below average back up PG.

    Jon Hollinger isn’t a writer in my sense of the word. He is a very good basketball mind. I don’t respect many writers because they are mostly ex athletes and/or journalists who don’t understand much about the game. Jon Hollinger is a very smart human being who loves, lives, and breathes basketball. Comparing him to guys who went to journalism school and dumb ex athletes is doing him a disservice. I once asked a good doctor friend of mine who seemed to me to know more about the game of football than all the “experts” and GMs as he predicted player development and game outcomes how he could know so much more than them. He responded… “Aaron, they are dumb jocks that played the game. They got their jobs because of connections through pkaying the sport and their names. Asking them to compete against someone like me who graduated from UCSD and at the top of their medical school class is too much to ask for. It’s not a level playing field. Just like it would be too much to ask for a intelligent slow Doctor like myself to compete on the football field with them.” Those are words to live by when discussing coaches and front office personnel. As time goes on smart owners will hire real actual smart basketball people instead of who they think are the smartest athletes. Not to make fun of writers in general but they aren’t even ex athletes who semi understand the game. They are writers who thought it would be more fun to write about sports. Comparing them to minds like Jon Hollinger isnt fair.

  8. The ” Aaron” who wrote number 6 is not me. It’s a different Aaron. Whoever you’re I was here first!! That’s my name!!!! (said in a baby voice)

  9. I’ve been here posting sporadically since before the Gasol trade :) .

  10. @5, Dave M – I would tend to agree with Aaron regarding Steve Blake. At this point of the season, he is a below-average NBA backup PG if you go by PER. He’s #52 out of the 60 PGs in the NBA who get significant minutes. An average starting PG would be ranked 13-17, while an average backup would be ranked 43-47.

    The 2012 Fish model, on the other hand, has become one of the two or three worst NBA PGs in the past 20 years. He’s been fluctuating between 56 and 58 in PER (offense), and he and Mike Bibby are probably the two worst in the league as ranked by PER Against. I think the only guy this season who can compete with his awfulness on both ends of the court is Mike Bibby’s corpse.

    The Knicks replaced the awful PG rotation of Bibby/Douglas with 40 minutes of Jeremy Lin per game. That is a massive improvement, especially with the PG position’s unique quality of improving the stats of all four teammates on the floor. In Lin’s first game as a starter (vs. Utah), there was a stretch when Chandler was on the bench where the P&R combo of Lin and Jared Jefferies completely dominated the game. Yes, Jared Jefferies.

  11. So Dude, you’re saying the Lakers should go all in on Bibby and pair him with Fish, right?

  12. Other Aaron,
    I’ve been posting everyday since way before the Gasol trade. How much do you want to tweak your name a little?

  13. That’s why I’m always a little surprised that Mike Brown is taking so much heat from fans. Hollinger’s breakdown is good but if you break it down by grades here’s how it would go, in my opinion

    Kobe: A
    Bynum:A-
    Gasol: B+
    Barnes: C+
    Goudelock: C
    Blake: C-
    World Peace, Murphy: D+
    McRoberts: D
    Kapono, Fisher, Walton: F
    Morris, Ebanks: Inc

    Even if you give a 50 percent increase to Kobe, Gasol, and Bynums grade you are still looking at a slightly below C team. Based on that, as far as I’m concerned this is really a .500 team that’s overachieving (especially at home).

    Mike Brown isn’t exactly winning coach of the year but he has an average team playing above average basketball.

  14. Dude,
    It would be actually interesting to see if there was a worse starting PG in the modern era than fisher this year. Fisher has the awful offensive numbers to compete for the title. What I think puts him over the top and why I would speculate 2012 Fisher might be the worst starting PG of all time is the fact he has never been a PG before (he was a spot up shooter his whole career) and he is now 37 and for the first time being asked to play PG on offense. All the intangibles a true PG brings are absent from his game while being one of the worst defenders at this point in his career as well. The icing on the cake is the fact Fisher is putting up these historically bad offensive numbers for a starting PG while playing with three all world players giving him wide open shots. I know everyone has a great time talking about the greatest seasons of all time… Well I have almost as much fun discussing the worst seasons of all time as well. I just hope letting Fisher play way too long doesmt hurt his legacy. He was a solid back up PG for the majority of his career and a deadly clutch shooter.

  15. This is to the Aaron Bros…..it would be pretty funny that Aaron is impersonating a 2nd Aaron just for the sake of this blog. One can sign on as AAron and the other as Aaron so we know the difference. Or, we can get one AAron at the regular price and the second Aaron for a penny. Your thoughts??

  16. @14, Aaron – Have you seen Mike Bibby? His PER is 6.13 (Fish’s is 8.32), and he’s even worse on D than Fish. Sebastian Telfair is horrible on offense as well, but he defends against penetration and the P&R marginally better than Fish does. However, Bibby will fall off the PG PER rankings eventually, as Baron is now getting the backup minutes. Also, Telfair is a backup, so it’s not really fair for their sake to compare two abysmal backups to Fish, who is a starter.

  17. To both Aarons – as one of the many Daves around the various blogs, I well understand. I go by Dave M to differentiate but there’s another Dave M who crops up now and then also (mostly baseball blogs but sometimes roundball as well).

    As for Steve Blake, I would personally rank him better than ‘below average’. Stats aside, Blake has an ability to hit the outside jumper that’s sorely needed here. It’s a shame that he missed so many games with the rib injury but that’s just what it is – there will be plenty more injuries around the league before this screwed-up season ends.

  18. Dude,
    Bibby is not a starting PG in the NBA. I. Talking about starting PGs. As you said either is Telfair. To really get into this we would have to do research on all starting PGs the last 30 years. It would be interesting. We would also need video. But yes… I said last year that Bibby was even worse than Fisher and I stand by that. I mean everyone would stand by that now.

    Dave,
    Blake’s stats are better than he is since his best attributes is his shooting. He isn’t a traditional PG who can run the pick and roll and pass.

  19. dave h – I think we should make them submit for carbon dating. There may be something nefarious going on here.

  20. David H,
    My thoughts are I don’t think this site is big enough for two Aaron’s ;) -The real Aaron

  21. @17, Dave M – Blake flashes the ability to hit the outside jumper, but his TS% is only .512, which is low even for a backup PG and indicates that he’s less consistent than he could be. His usage rate is also very low, only 14.8% – meaning that he puts very little pressure on opposing defenses for a PG. Overall, IMO he is a below-average backup.

    However, if the team had two PGs, with one rating as slightly below average for first-string and one who rates as slightly below average for second-string, then the Lakers would instantly be back in title contention.

  22. There had better not be another Funky Chicken.

  23. dave m: great minds and names think alike. like happy face aaron’s comeback and just before tonite’s tip off, let’s all just dance a little funky chicken w/Funky Chicken..