Friday Forum

Dave Murphy —  April 6, 2012

For this Friday’s forum. I’d like to ask for thoughts about the season as we enter the home stretch – where we’ve been and where we’re heading. For me, this final month has come on like a freight train, the result of a shorted, compressed schedule, no doubt. I’m also struck by the evolution of this year’s model – regardless of the many ups, downs, and sideways bumps, the Lakers have become a very dangerous team.

Andy Kamenetzky from the Land O’Lakers, reaches out to Rahat Tuq from Red94, in anticipation of tonight’s game against the Rockets.

Brian Kamenetzky from the LOL, looks at our number three slot, and match-up implications.

C.A. Clark at Silver Screen and Roll looks at the Sessions effect – how Ramon has changed the Lakers.

If you need more links after this post, Theshmoes at Silver Screen and Roll has plenty to share

Elizabeth Benson at Lakers Nation, looks at our bench, and what we should expect from them down the stretch.

Janis Carr at the OC Register relays news of Metta World Peace’s sore ankle.

Eric Pincus at HoopsWorld writes that the Lakers have all but cinched the Pacific Division.

Dan Devine at Ball Don’t Lie writes about the many faces of Andrew Bynum.

Zach Harper at HoopSpeak looks at Griffin’s dunks on Pau, and how Pau may have had the last laugh.

On April Fool’s Day, Aaron McGuire at the Gothic Ginobili, wrote about the infinite sadness of Pau Gasol, with stat-head numbers included.

And while I’m including old April 1 posts, I can’t resist another from GG, this from Alex Dewey, in which he discusses western secession.

***

In one of the season’s many logistical quirks, all three of our games against San Antonio come in the last month. That’s right, three out of our final eleven, are against the team currently in second place. Despite a new coach, new system, and a lot of new faces, are we starting to peak at the right time? The forum’s open.

- Dave Murphy

Dave Murphy

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24 responses to Friday Forum

  1. Re: Ramon Sessions

    We need to put in perspective who Ramon Sessions is. He is better than any of us thought. Since becoming a starter he in in the top 4 in PGs PER. The man is just flat out good. In back to back games against DWill and CP3, Ramon statistically was their equal. I can’t say how spectacular that is. We went to getting killed by those guys for years to playing even with them overnight. Let’s enjoy this.

    Re: The Sixth Man of the Year Award

    This is rediculous. I feel like most people on the planet are morons. Just morons. If you play more minutes than the guy who starts in front of you… You are not a sixth man!!! The guy starting ahead of you is the sixth man!!!!!!! It’s not rocket science. If you want to change the award to best player not starting…. Then James Harden can win that award. Lamar Odom was the first true sixth man to win that award. He actually played less than Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.

  2. From the last thread:

    Kurt posted this article on probasketballtalk earlier today about Dwight opting in because he was threatened to be traded to the lakers (where Kobe told him he would be the third option on O):

    http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/04/06/report-dwight-howard-signed-with-magic-to-avoid-trade-to-lakers/

    What’s up Snoopy :-)

  3. I’m pretty with were we are as a team now. For me all that is left to fix is snot 10 minutes of shooting guard a game. I would like to see Barnes at the 2 with perhaps Ebanks at the 3 for at least 5 to 8 minutes a game. Blake is ok at back up PG but he will get crushed at the 2.

  4. Sessions Playing Bigger Role
    —————————————-

    Coach Brown has been working and reworking his rotation all season.  With the acquisition of point guard Ramon Sessions, the Lakers have found a player who has yet to play a game without a positive +/- on the floor.

    That’s 12 games as a Laker, the Lakers winning eight . . .

    Naturally Brown has looked to give Sessions bigger minutes, trying to keep either Sessions or Bryant on the court at all times.

    That’s pretty impressive. 12 games and always a plus :)

  5. The Lakers can be a dangerous team going forward. No, they are not the deepest team. But most coaches go with a 7 to 8 man rotation in the playoffs anyway. No, they don’t have the fastest legs. But the game does slowdown in the playoffs. And while I see guys out there the Lakers have no match for (Westbrook) I also know few teams can match up with Bynum. And if Pau and Bynum are playing their big to big game, then LA’s front court trumps everyone else. I like on the move Kobe over iso Kobe. Kobe playing wide receiver to Ramon’s quarterback in conjunction with AB and Pau’s high/low game can give fits to even the best defensive teams. Basically the Lakers have two playmakers in Ramon and Pau, and two finishers in Kobe and Andrew. I suspect in another month the Lakers offense will look even better than it does now.

    Sure there are other issues. The defense needs to pick up. The rotations need a little refining. The mental focus needs to be stronger. I do think the playoff schedule combined with seeing the same team multiple times will sharpen their focus on the court. I am not sure they can will win it all. They need some things to break in their favor. Still Dallas wasn’t the favorite going into the playoffs last year. Anything can happen.

  6. Haha good find Matt, didn’t see your post before I submitted. Good reads as always, Dave.

    I’m less concerned with the offense going forward – with Bynum’s continued dominance down low, Sessions simply existing, and Kobe’s increasing willingness to play off the ball (and he moves so well off the ball), the offense will sort itself out. If we can combine that with some semblance of our defense from earlier in the year, I like our chances against anyone.

    Per the Point Forward: “the Lakers have yielded about 109.5 points per 100 possessions since the trade deadline when Sessions sits and about 103.9 when he’s on the floor. The first mark would rank dead last in the league, and the second would rank among the bottom ten defensive teams.”

    Small sample size notwithstanding, those are not good numbers. It also means there’s a lot of room for improvement and this team has an even higher ceiling than many believe.

    To me, the only other big issue (besides the defense) is MB learning to utilize Blake only alongside Kobe, and dropping the awful Sessions-Blake lineup.

  7. T Rogers: I agree that playoff basketball is more suited to our current make up. And yes Dallas was not the favorite last year, but they were tied for the 3rd best record last year and we will most likely be a distant 5th. Further, as stated before, teams like the 11 Mavs and the 04 Pistons are the exception. I think the odds on one of the Top 4 winning it would be about 90%. (we would be the majority of the remaining 10%).

  8. why would the lakers trade drew for a rental?

  9. Chibi,
    We wouldn’t. It was an empty threat by the Magic to get Howard to stay for another year most likley. Howard and his people were too dumb and conceeded to not call their bluff. After all… Isn’t Howard worth it for two months? Haha

  10. matt: I didn’t know playing for the Lakers was such a bad thing.

    Great prespective from Ding on Bynum. I always questioned his immaturity not his game. You can tell he cares about winning that’s a good thing. But he’s very important to this team he knows it and is using his power right now.Hope it’s a phase.

  11. So what do we do to improve our odds? Well at this point the roster is what it is, + I think most of the rotations are as well. That said, even though I would love to see our players rested, I think we need to finish strong. Forget being “dangerous”. We need to be the big, bad, Lakers (evil empire) + to do that we need to complete this 7 gm stretch at least 6-1 (as I predicted), then we need to finish strong with at least 2 out of 3 against SA.

  12. 1/2deaf: We often agree on much so please explain this to me, since nobody else will. We got swept in rnd 2 last year + we all thought we were in need of overall. Outgoing we have PJ, DF, LO, + SB; Incoming we have MB, RS, JM, TM.
    You + others are concerned about MB. Certainly the upgrade from DF to RS is good, but you have to say that SB + LO for JM/TM is a downgrade true?
    So please explain this optimistic epiphany in terms that my stubborn/realistic mind will understand: )

    PS: your post above lists a bunch of concerns – which I share – the optimism does not have such detailed suppor data however : )

  13. Robert: agree Mike Brown is set in his ways they are working late. Just need the 3 bench players play at a high level. And Kobe is coming out of his slump just in time.

    Lakers are already better than last year’s playoffs. Pau’s head isn’t full of fog, Bynum is better thatn he was, Kobe will be better and Lakers have a PG. Dallas was the championship team no shame in losing to them. Blake is the X- Factor his minutes will be key.

  14. Robert,

    I would say that all five starters of last year’s playoffs are worse than their current incarnations on the Lakers. Aside from the obvious personnel upgrade at PG (adding Sessions while removing DFish’s minutes entirely), Kobe is more explosive than he’s been in a couple years, World Peace is actually dunking consistently and is in good shape, Pau isn’t mopey and is a little less beat (for now) than he was, and Bynum has clearly improved as well. LO was a great player to have, but the increased minutes going to Bynum is looking to be worth it.

  15. Robert,
    I’ll make things super simple for you. Two things matter the most when you’re trying to win a playoff series. 1) Have the best player on the floor and don’t have the worst player on the floor. The Lakers lost because Dirk was better than Kobe and Fisher was worse than everyone. The Heat lost because of Mike Bibby. If you wanna pick playoff series winner just ask yourself who is the worst player and who is the best player.

  16. Robert,

    I see where you are going with the probability angle. However, this is a lockout shortened season. There was no real training camp. There is a condensed 66 game schedule. This entire campaign is a statistical anomaly by any NBA standards. It is no coincidence the last lockout shortened season saw an 8th seed win the Eastern Conference.

    Once again, I don’t think the Lakers have the inside track to winning the title. But if there was ever a season ripe for bucking the norm across the board, this is it.

  17. Jumping into the fray here for a second, I’d also add that seasons don’t happen in a vacuum. Last year’s team was trying to win a 3rd straight title and go to the Finals for the 4th straight year. They’d played nearly 400 games over that span with the mental and physical toll apparent. When you add in a departing Phil Jackson and a buzz saw of a Mavericks team, I’m not sure last season should be used for a guide to this season.

    That said, the players did come into this season mentally and physically refreshed and, dare I say, more motivated to win. The roster and coaching staff changes have made progress difficult, but with the Sessions acquisition the team does have a new dynamic to help push them along. Where this all leads them is anyone’s guess but I’m not quick to say this team can OR can’t achieve their goals this season. There are simply too many variables that will go into it.

  18. Robert, I’ll take a stab at your post…

    What happened last year:
    Last year the squad was attempting to reach the finals for the fourth year in a row. That feat has never been accomplished by any modern NBA team. They were gassed, plan and simple. They also had internal issues, as Bynum put it “trust” issues. Pau’s mind was in another place. And we ran into the hottest team in the league at the time, they shot the lights out and they were loaded/deep. Don’t forget they didn’t just sweep us, they also blew through both OKC and Miami, whom are the title favorites this year and largely have the same rosters. Even if we were on our A game, I don’t think it would have been good enough to beat Dallas last year.

    Roster changes:
    First off, I think you’re undervaluing the Sessions for Fisher swap. Fisher was not only the worst starting PG, but he was worse than over half of backup PGs in the league. We replaced him with a near top 10 PG in Sessions. Heck, as Dude has been tracking and Aaron has pointed out, his PER is 4th in the league since coming aboard (for PGs). Secondly, I think absence has made your heart grow fonder in regards to Shannon. He shot lights out early in the season, regressed to the mean HARD and had a basketball brain the size of a peanut, and I loved the kid (check my username =] ). As far as LO is concerned you are comparing LO of last year, the 6th MOTY, to McRoberts and Murphy of this year. I’m sure you’re well aware that LO’s production has fallen off of a cliff this year, so it’s really not much of a downgrade.

    So we may have downgraded with LO for McBob & Murph, but we upgraded our starting PG big time. In my book, that is a clear net gain. This is all without mentioning the dead weight contracts the FO was able to get rid of this year as well.

  19. McRobert last 10 games avg. 5 rebs in 18 mins.

    Barnes in a bit of a slump 1-12 3ptFG last 5. He is avg. 6.1 reb 1.2 blk last 10 games.

    Blake is 10-23 FG 43% and 7-17 3ptFG 41% last 5 games

  20. Kevin, just wanted to take a sec and say thanks for the stats man! You always post them randomly, just cherry picking stats here and there. No rant added, not even an opinion, just sharing whats been happening and I like it.

    Those three lines you posted are pretty damn interesting to me…

    McRoberts – we see what giving energy guys minutes brings to the table. 5 rebs in 18 mins would extrapolate to 13.3 rebounds per 48 mins, which would put him around 33rd in the league, ahead of guys like Josh Smith, KG, Taj Gibson, David Lee, M Gasol, Perkins, Maxiell, Bosh, Scola.

    Barnes – My guess is that Barnes has seen an increase in minutes and has been running the floor more frequently now with Sessions in the fold. Hopefully he’ll get his legs back underneath him on his jumper.

    Blake – I certainly hope that means Blakes shooting confidence is on the rise. That would mean Browns investment in minutes for him will have paid off, as will our thinning patience with seeing him getting eaten alive in the post by opposing 2 guards. We definitely need him and Matt to be shooting well in the postseason.

  21. I’d like to key on something Kevin said – Pau’s head isn’t in a fog, and Bynum is better than he was. Absolutely. Simple statement but on target. Andrew’s a veteran in terms of seasons played, but he reminds me of a kid going through an exponential growth spurt – sometimes acting out, testing boundaries, making dumb mistakes, but also consuming the game and space around him. Should be fun to watch in the playoffs.

  22. sbdunks: thanks man *sheds tear* lol
    you’re right need Barnes and Blake shooting. Lakers 3s point shooters will be tested come playoffs.

  23. Robert,

    People here and in general tend to overreact to whatever has happened over the last three-four games. People also overreact to nationally televised wins over teams they hate. The Clippers’ win was enormously satisfying emotionally, but the Lakers’ title prospects aren’t really any different than they would be if the Lakers had lost 108-107.

    That said, you are underrating the Sessions add and Darius’ point about variables is correct.