Archives For April 2012

Friday Forum

Dave Murphy —  April 20, 2012

 

And so here we are. The tail end of the regular season, the last of the three game series against the Spurs, and the return of Kobe Bryant after seven games off. The team has played well in his absence, and is certainly an emerging contender for another title run.

Andy Kamenetzky at the Land O’Lakers, has five questions about the return of Kobe.

Brian Kamenetzky at the LOL reports on Portland, possibly making a run at Mitch Kupchak.

Wondahbap at Silver Screen and Roll writes that the Lakers seemed primed for a serious playoff run

Dexter Fishmore at SSR wonders if the MWP rebirth can survive Kobe’s return.

Theshmoes at SSR writes about the western conference seedings.

Kevin Ding at the OC Register says it’s mostly fascination by association, but offers a peek inside a sportswriter’s life.

Interesting piece from Mark Heisler at Sheridan Hoops, about Kobe’s long and winding road.

Mike Bresnahan at the L.A. Times writes about the need for balance, with Kobe’s return.

Jabari Davis at Lakers Nation, on MWP and Matt Barnes as the Lakers’ renaissance men.

A game preview from Quincy Scott at the excellent Spurs blog, Pounding the Rock.

Adrian Wojinarowski at Yahoo Sports writes about the union leadership battle between Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher.

***

Tonight’s game is an impossible one to predict – there are simply too many variables. The Spurs are bound to be more prepared at home than they were for the last Lakers visit. And the Lakers need to have more resolve and desire than they did at home on Tuesday. And of course, everybody’s asking the Kobe question. My own sense is that he’ll go with the flow, find his spots, and be an assassin. Beware of Mamba.

Coming into this season, many openly wondered if the Los Angeles Lakers would even manage to qualify for the seventh spot in the Western Conference. The argument was that given their lack of athleticism, the loss of Lamar Odom as well as the departure of Phil Jackson that the team would take a huge step back.

What had been a cohesive unit for three straight Finals appearances, would suddenly forget how to play together without the triangle offense as their foundation. In addition, judging from his days with the Cleveland Cavaliers where he essentially allowed LeBron James to monopolize the offense, Mike Brown was far from an offensive genius.

With that said, his defenses always looked above average, and there was no reason to expect any different in Los Angeles, especially with Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol there to anchor the paint. Mind you, the defense would take time to bring up to speed given the condensed schedule.

And if that wasn’t enough, if Mike Brown was powerless in front of LeBron, there was no way he would be able to hold Kobe Bryant accountable.

Those were some of the concerns coming into the season for Lakers fans; and detractors took it a step further and stated that the team would fall off a cliff given these “facts”.

These issues were obviously warranted but they were a little overblown. Let’s be honest here, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum helped the Lakers win three Western Conference crowns and two NBA titles. These guys weren’t scrubs.

And yet, the popular opinion was that the 2012 Los Angeles Lakers could not compete for a title.

Oh and this just in: the Los Angeles Lakers lead the Pacific division and own the third best record in the conference.

They defeated the San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks without their superstar guard and in the process saw Andrew Bynum not only dominate for stretches, but play the part of a franchise player.

Indeed, the big man has used the additional touches to put up more points and has also displayed great effort and energy on the boards.

The end result?

The Lakers are a far more dangerous team these days with Kobe Bryant on the sidelines. It’s not so much that the team is better off without him, but rather that Bean has had the chance to watch the big man tag team work together and see just how productive and effective they can be when given a more than adequate amount of touches; especially Bynum.

This may come as a shocker, but this installment of the Lakers may be a remix of the 2001 squad.

Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant spent the bulk of the 2000-01 season wrestling over control of the team and then Kobe went down with an injury towards the end of the regular season and had a chance to watch the team gel and display good team chemistry. By the time he finally reinserted the lineup, he played perfectly in concert with Shaq and the rest of his teammates, picking his spots and understanding when to assert himself offensively.

The circumstances and the roster may be different, but the situation is relatively similar. Bryant has spent the season leading the league in scoring, usage rate — the percentage of possessions of the team that a player uses — and field goal attempts despite having two stud big men as teammates.

Granted, it’s nearly impossible to predict whether the Lakers all time leading scorer will curtail his game even a little to feed the interior more; but given what he has seen from his teammates as of late, he may in fact choose to go that route and ride them as much as possible and then assert himself when the offense demands for him to breath some life into it.

The book on Bryant is that he has always wanted to win on his own terms, but chasing that sixth championship might just prove to be enough motivation to take a step back and then only take a few steps forward when the situation calls for it.

Fans of opposing teams have been terrified of Kobe and his scoring explosions, but the scariest thing for them is the Bean that can go back and forth between playmaker and cold-blooded assassin.

One can only wait with great anticipation for the guard to return to the team and to see how he incorporates himself back into the fold. The same Bryant may help the team get to the second round or possibly the conference finals, but a slightly different Kobe may help the Lakers win the whole thing.

The emergence of Bynum this season has made the Lakers a serious contender, but let’s not forget that it all starts and ends with the purple and gold’s leading scorer.

To KoBe or not to KoBe, that is the question at hand…

Box Score: Lakers 99, Warriors 87

Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 120.7, Warriors 106.1

True Shooting %: Lakers 58.1%, Warriors 47.2%

The Los Angeles Lakers played their seventh straight game without Kobe Bryant but quite frankly didn’t need him. The Purple and Gold came out looking to dominate the interior and showed a great level of energy on the road despite playing last night against the San Antonio Spurs.

So takeaways from the game?

The Good

Andrew Bynum was a beast early in the game, bulldozing through defenders and also spinning away from them early in the game to put up 17 points in the first quarter. Pau Gasol complemented his center with his scoring, rebounding and exquisite passing on his way to an impressive triple double.

The tag team combined for 53 points, 20 rebounds and 12 assists on 19-for-30 shooting and helped the Lakers score a staggering 62 points in the paint.

As impressive as the tandem was against the Warriors, they managed to– brace yourself for a Phil Jacksonism — share the spotlight with their teammates. Indeed, the interior passing allowed players such as MWP and Devin Ebanks to get some great looks at the rim and it also created good ball movement which resulted in multiple high percentage shots and 34 assists on the night.

Even more impressive, the Lakers didn’t panic when they saw the Warriors’ zone, and instead kept the focus on getting the ball inside to Bynum, Gasol and World Peace to do damage in the paint instead of camping out and firing away from deep. The Lakers only attempted a mere 14 shots from 3-point range, many of which came towards the end of contest when Brown emptied the bench.

The Bad

Typically this would be where we discuss where one or two things that went wrong in the night’s performance, but after watching the Lakers blow out the Warriors, we’ll go in another direction: Metta World Peace.

It’s not that he played badly, but rather that he was a ­bad man tonight, making things difficult and unpleasant for his opponents. He chased Klay Thompson around and made life tough for him when matched up with him, but he was also a bull on the block given his size and strength.

World Peace was able to seal his defender on a few occasions down low — by the way, MWP occasionally went down there with both Bynum and Gasol on the court — and muscle him around for easy scores; but instead of simply looking to score, he also did a great job of distributing the ball to open players as evidenced by his nine assists.

He was plus-21 tonight and that certainly jives with what was observed on the court. His intensity on both ends of the floor was certainly important and it went a long way towards determining who would hit first, and that was the Lakers.

The Ugly

The Lakers did a good job of defending in the half court and forcing Golden State to shoot contested midrange jumpers off the dribble, which are difficult to convert. However, Mike Brown’s group did a poor job in the first half of getting back in transition after misses and turnovers. The Warriors used that to their advantage by getting out in the open court and creating some terrific looks at the rim.

Even if the fast break in itself was done, Golden State’s ability to run out and get into early offense meant that they could find driving lanes with the big men slowly retreating back into the paint.

This issue was corrected in the second half but is nonetheless troubling given that the Dubs didn’t have a top-notch point guard speeding up the tempo and flying down the court.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Lakers defense was less than stellar when the second unit made its way onto the court. Golden State’s bench was able to produce 29 points on 13-for-28 (46.4 percent), with 22 of those coming in the first half alone.

The Warriors’ activity level was superior to the Lakers in the second quarter, but the road team came out of halftime seemingly reenergized and intent on dominating the paint on both sides of the ball, which eventually led to a blowout.

With games against elite teams on the horizon (@San Antonio on April 20th and versus OKC on April 22nd), these lapses may prove costly if they do not get addressed.

With that said, a double-digit victory on the road with your best player sitting out isn’t exactly the worst thing in the world now is it?

Records: Lakers 39-23 (3rd the West), Warriors 22-38 (13th in the West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 106.1 (12th in the NBA), Warriors 105.9 (13th in the NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 104.1 (13th in the NBA), Warriors 109.5 (28th in the NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Ramon Sessions, Devin Ebanks, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Warriors: Charles Jenkins, Klay Thompson, Dorell Wright, Mickell Gladness, Jeremy Tyler
Injuries: Lakers: Kobe Bryant (out); Warriors: Andris Biedrins (questionable), Andrew Bogut (out), Steph Curry (out), Richard Jefferson (out), David Lee (out)

The Lakers Coming in: Kobe Bryant will sit for his 7th straight game tonight, but is reportedly close to a return. Friday’s rubber match versus the Spurs may mark the return of the Mamba but for now he remains out. Kobe can’t get back fast enough, though. Counting tonight’s game, there are only 4 games left in the season and that means Kobe’s chance to mesh with his team in real game action is slowly slipping away. And while there will be ample practice time (especially in the 3 days off before the season finale against the Kings), it’s important to take what’s worked on in that setting to game situations to feel things out. When Kobe does return there will be an adjustment period and I’d much rather have that occur before we get into “best of 7″ territory.

One more note on last night: in the moment, you likely wouldn’t have found a more frustrated viewer than me. The 2nd quarter was a comedy of errors major and minor and to watch the team literally give the game away with a single, uninterrupted stretch of poor play had me fuming. However, when reflecting on the action (and, as a masochist of sorts, in review of the tape) the errors that the Lakers made are entirely fixable. The way they played screens, the carelessness with the ball, the lack of attention to detail…they’re all things that can be looked at on film, adjusted with practice time, and improved upon. For all the hits Mike Brown has taken, I don’t think it can be argued he’s not a good teacher of the game and that he’s enforced good habits with this team. Moving into the playoffs, I do trust he’ll have this team ready. How far they go will be dependent on a lot of factors both in and outside of his control but I’m not distraught after last night, that’s for sure.

The Warriors Coming in: What do you call a team stripped of nearly all its top end talent and replaced it with young players who are both less talented but hungry and hard working guys looking to earn a position in this league?

If you said the Warriors, you win a prize.

So, what you see with this particular group of players is hustle and effort on nearly every play, but with results that aren’t in line with how hard the team is playing. The lack of talent hurts this team in the moment, but if it helps them retain their top 7 protected draft pick this June, maybe it will all be worth it.

What will also be worth it is the information gathering that’s surely going on right now. It’s now been proven that Klay Thompson can play. Will Jeremy Tyler join him as a player that shows promise? Will Nate Robinson be a guy that sticks beyond this year? What about Dominic McGuire? These are the questions that need answering and while the manner in which the answers are being forced upon the Warriors fans can be frustrating (they really do deserve better), the data mined from this final stretch will inform future decisions. It doesn’t make it any easier, however.

Warriors Blogs: Check out Warriors World for good analysis and insight on the team from the East Bay.

Keys to game: I’d make jokes about the keys to this game being “showing up”, “tying one’s shoes properly”, and “avoiding undercooked poultry” but these are the Lakers I’m talking about – you know the team that can win or lose against anyone. So, while the Warriors won’t offer a lot of talent to match an even Kobe-less Laker team, this game still must be taken seriously from the visitors.

This means sticking to the game plan and punishing the Warriors inside. David Lee has recently been sidelined with a strained groin and that means even less depth for a Dubs team that already has a depleted front court. Even if Andris Biedrins does play, the Lakers must still attack through the post and pound this team inside via entries to the low block and on the offensive glass. If Bynum and Gasol both don’t go for double-doubles it better be because they don’t play enough minutes, not because they aren’t featured on offense.

Defensively, the Lakers’ game plan will really only come down to two factors. First, the Lakers must control the tempo of the game. Last night they got sucked into playing at the Spurs pace and as the game went on that proved to be a bad error in collective judgment. Tonight, the Warriors will try to duplicate what the Spurs did by pushing the ball after misses and makes and try to ensure that they don’t have to set up in the half court against a defense featuring two 7 footers. The Lakers must keep the floor balanced in order to transition back, build a wall against Charles Jenkins and Nate Robinson and then run to shooters that will camp behind the three point line.

Second, in the half court, the Lakers must defend screen actions better. The Warriors will run pin downs for Klay Thompson to free him for his jumper and then work weak side actions to spot up Dorell Wright. If the Lakers get caught on screens, these plays will produce open jumpers – especially from behind the arc – and if those shots start to fall the game will remain close. In recent games the Lakers have navigated screens poorly and it’s led to the types of shots capable shooters will make all night. So, they must be better against a Warriors team that will run these same actions.

Tonight is a game the Lakers must win. They should be ready to bounce back from last night, they have a much more talented team, and they have playoff positioning at stake. Said another way, there’s motivation aplenty for this team and they must channel that and deliver the W. The Dubs will fight, but the Lakers must match that energy and effort tonight. Simple as that.

Where you can watch: 7:30PM start on KCAL and ESPN. Also listen at ESPN Radio 710AM.

Wednesday Storylines

Dave Murphy —  April 18, 2012

The major storyline of course is last night’s flip – the vaunted rebounds were nowhere in evidence and we were treated to a loss, courtesy of the Tony Parker revenge. This probably sets up the return of the Mamba nicely – there’s been some talk of him returning tonight against the Warriors, although it’s more probable that he’ll wait until round three of the Spurs series, which would provide a wonderful narrative for ESPN and leave the suits at TNT gnashing their teeth. For now, the links:

C.A. Clark at Silver Screen and Roll says one good outlier deserves another.

SoCalGal at Silver Screen and Roll weaves links into a rematch recap.

Chris Fedor offers a Sports Radio transcript of the Kobe interview, discussing among other things, his shin injury.

Brett Koremenos at HoopSpeak writes about why the offense has been working without Kobe. This written of course, before last night’s shellacking.

Rob Mahoney at Bleacher Report, on the Lakers identity shift, from all D, no O, to the opposite.

Henry Abbott & Trevor Ebaugh at True Hoop, delve into basketball geekery with crunch time stats.

Hardwood Paroxysm has a wild west roundup for the playoffs.

Kurt Helin at ProBasketballTalk writes about Ramon Session’s choice to test the free agency waters.

Mark Medina at the L.A. Times says that Kobe is doubtful for tonight’s game against the Warriors.

Kevin Chan at Lakers Nation offers a breakdown for tonight’s game.

Dave McMenamin at ESPN GO, has an interview with Jim Buss, in part one, followed by part two.

The Kamenetzky bros at the Land O’Lakers, hit up our very own double-duty J.M. Poulard, for a Warriors preview. Shout out to J.M., who’s done a lot of heavy lifting here at FB&G all season long, while keeping the Warriors World flag flying high.

Speaking of FB&G staff, Emile Avanessian has a new series up on his Hardwood Hype blog, digging into the world of sporting bets. Check out his Mad Props maiden voyage, and today’s second installment.

Continuing with the love, R.R. Magellan who has cranked out so many great previews and recaps here this season, tells why Orlando should ship Dwight out – courtesy The No Look Pass.

I had resolved not to pimp out yesterday’s self-indulgence but if we can beat the Spurs on Friday, I’ll leave Sager in fantasy land for the rest of the season.

***

It feels more than a little strange to be looking at the last four games of the regular season. It has simply gone by too fast. Regardless, this is where we are. The Clippers have won four in a row, and are breathing down our necks for the third slot. I hope we take care of business the rest of the way, because personally, I’d rather face either Denver or Dallas, than Memphis in the first round.

 

– Dave Murphy

The Lakers had their hats handed to them by the Spurs, losing 112-91. After the game, Tony Parker said that he and his team were particularly motivated after being embarrassed in San Antonio last week and wanted to make up for it tonight. Well, mission accomplished Tony.

Tonight’s game really was an example of two things. First, is that outlier games happen. Last week the Lakers trounced the Spurs on all levels, nearly doubling their rebound count while nearly every major player on their roster played terribly. Some of what the Lakers did that night was repeatable – like their effort on D and their game plan on O – but the poor performances from Parker and Ginobili specifically likely weren’t to be duplicated. Tonight, Parker was as amazing as he was awful last week, scoring 29 points on an array of jumpers and open court forays to the rim created by sloppy Laker play. When you add his points to his 13 assists, you have a night that’s beyond even his own high standard of strong play. So, while Parker wasn’t going to stink up the joint again tonight, it’s doubtful he’ll be this amazing consistently against any opponent. (This isn’t to discount Parker, either. He really was great and deserves all the accolades he’s bound to receive for playing so well. I’m just saying if he could get 29 and 13 each night, he probably would. Tonight he was beyond special.)

Second, people often stress late game performances as the key to winning or as more important than other parts of the contest. But in reality, games can be lost at any point. In the 2nd quarter the Spurs went on an 18-0 run with the Lakers turning the ball over on 5 straight possessions at one point. That stretch effectively lost the game for the Lakers as a 2 point Laker lead was turned into a 16 point deficit in the blink of an eye. When you consider that the final difference in the game was 21 points, those 18 straight loom rather large. So while we often worry about late game performance (and, to be fair, there’s good reason for that), it’s also important to remember that it’s what a team does during the rest of the contest that makes those moments matter. Tonight, the Spurs dominated the Lakers in the 2nd quarter and never looked back.

Ultimately, this game is a tough loss for a variety of reasons. The Lakers are now tied in the loss column with the Clippers and will be in a dog fight for the final week trying to hold on to their #3 seed. The built up confidence from winning without Kobe has also been dented as this wasn’t just a loss but a shellacking. But, ultimately, the Lakers still control their own destiny and will just need to get back on track. Luckily, this loss won’t linger for too long as they face the Warriors tomorrow night. Sometimes it’s better to just tip your cap to the other team and move on, and that’s what the Lakers get to do after this one.

Records: Lakers 39-22 (3rd in the West), Spurs 43-16 (1st in the West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 106.3 (10th in the NBA), Spurs 109.6 (2nd in the NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 103.8 (13th in the NBA), Spurs 103.3 (12th in the NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Ramon Sessions, Devin Ebanks, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Spurs: Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan, DeJuan Blair
Injuries: Lakers: Kobe Bryant (out), Jordan Hill (out); Spurs: none

These teams just played a week ago so let’s cut to the chase. This game matters for a variety of reasons but none more so than playoff seedings are still in play in the jam packed Western Conference. As the season comes to a close a key win or loss can change the match ups and turn the landscape into a rockier path than what existed just a day ago. And this year, maybe more than most, match ups will matter in determining who advances in each round and to the the Finals from the WC. And with the Spurs now in the #1 spot out West (and holding the tie breaker over the Thunder), OKC is on the Lakers side of the bracket – should both sides advance to round 2. That said, with two games left against the Spurs, the Lakers can impact that starting tonight…

Getting it done will take a similar formula to the one that earned them a W just a few days ago. In that game the Lakers defense turned up a notch, playing the P&R well, rotating quickly to shooters, and finishing possessions with rebounds. Andrew Bynum’s presence on in the paint meant few shots went unchallenged once the ball advanced past the foul line. His long arms served as deterrents and the safe landing for caroms and tonight that focus will need to be the same.

Offensively, the Lakers deliberate attack will also need to continue. The Spurs frontline was overwhelmed by the activity, size, and length that the Lakers offered as both Bynum and Gasol worked the interior well with McRoberts chipping in with his typical hustle. The Lakers will need to control the tempo and force the action to the paint where the Spurs don’t have the same caliber of players to match up. Bynum will need to be decisive with the ball and Pau will need to support him by providing spacing with his jumper and attacking the glass when help shifts towards his front court partner.

The desire to crash the glass must be countered with the need to get back on D, however. In the las game, the Spurs took advantage of the Lakers in transition with Parker turning on the jets and their shooters trailing the action to step into three pointers. Bonner was especially dangerous in this role as his defender often ran to the paint first only to find the big red-head camping 22 feet from the basket. The Lakers must hustle back on D, slow Parker and Ginobili in the open court and then mark shooters. Gary Neal will play tonight (he didn’t last time) and he offers another shooter that is capable of hitting from the shoulder and corner outside the arc.

The last game was a dominant effort from the Lakers but on some levels it was also sort of flukey. Manu and Parker were mostly quiet and Duncan had little impact on either side of the ball. It was the role players that kept the game close early on and a turn of better play from their stars should be expected. That said, the Lakers have the tools to slow the Spurs should they concentrate and focus on the little things that slow those players down. Parker must be forced to hit his jumper rather than getting into the paint free and clear. Manu must be kept to one side of the floor and not allowed to change directions multiple times in his forays to the hoop. And Timmy must be forced to guard the rim and rebound in single possessions while made to beat his man off the dribble on the other end.

If the Lakers can play a disciplined style against those three and while still recovering to shooters spacing the floor, this game can be a re-run of the last one. The eye popping totals may not end up being the same but the end result can be. The Lakers must simply work for it. With greater stakes beyond a simple W or L in the ledger at play, here’s to them doing it.

Where you can watch: 7:30PM start on Prime Ticket and nationally on TNT. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710AM.

In Kobe Bryant’s absence there have been several story-lines about players filling in the gaps and raising their collective games. Be it the players you’d expect in Pau and Bynum, guys you’d hope would step up like Ron and Barnes, or (in the case of someone like Steve Blake) someone who you may have had little belief in, there have been no shortage of players turning up their games right when they’ve needed to.

One player though, who has filled a key role but hasn’t really gotten much recognition for doing so is Devin Ebanks. Called on from the depths of the bench to fill a starting role, Ebanks has seen a steady diet of minutes in the 5 games that Kobe has missed and has shown that he can be serviceable player.

No, his numbers aren’t anything special. In 24 minutes a night he’s scoring only 6 points on 42% shooting while grabbing only a shade over 2 rebounds. The rest of boxscore stats are just as modest, tallying a single assist and turnover each night while picking up a few steals over the course of the 5 games. All and all, from a statistical standpoint, he’s been fairly non-descript.

But, looking at the boxscore is only one way to judge his place on the Lakers. When you look beyond the standard numbers, you start to see a story of a player that can fit in on the court should he be used in a manner that maximizes his strengths.

First, and probably most important, is that Ebanks understands his role on this team. His usage rate is a paltry 12.8 in the past 5 games so he’s “coloring within the lines”. He’s not forcing shots, not trying to be a playmaker, and not going outside of what he’s supposed to be on the floor.

Second, he’s opportunistic on offense and plays to his strengths. Of his 31 field goals in the past 5 games, 17 of them have been inside of 8 feet with 15 of those coming right at the rim (where he’s shooting 60% in this stretch). He’s a smart cutter and seems to have a good understanding of moving into open spaces, indicated strongly by the fact that more than half of his makes have been assisted. Furthermore, he has a nose for the ball and can often be seen slithering into the paint from the weak side to battle for offensive rebounds (where he’s grabbing 1.4 a night).

Defensively, Ebanks’ numbers aren’t that flattering – at least when judged by the results of the team when he’s on the floor. In the 122 minutes Ebanks has played in the last 5 games, the Lakers defensive efficiency is 106.3. But, those numbers don’t tell the entire story either. As a whole, the Lakers defense has slipped lately and that has less to do with Ebanks evidenced by the fact that when Ebanks is off the floor the Lakers DEff jumps to 112.6. This certainly has a lot to do with the teammates that Ebanks plays with (he mostly runs with the starters) but he’s part of the units that have been playing better on that side of the floor.

And this bears out with the eye test too. On an individual level, Ebanks has played solid positional D using his length and above average lateral quickness to stay with his man. He’s still only a second year player so mistakes are made on that side of the  ball, but he seems to have a firm understanding of the Lakers’ schemes and is rarely out of position.

Ultimately, Ebanks has probably earned himself spot minutes even after Kobe returns. First of all, Kobe will need some rest and even when the playoffs come, 40+ minute nights shouldn’t be the norm if the goal is to have a functional Kobe Bean for a deep post-season run. Getting Kobe 10-15 minutes of rest a night should be a goal and Ebanks (along with Barnes) can help achieve that. Second, if the choice is between playing Ebanks with either Sessions or Blake at PG or playing Blake at SG, I choose the former. In the 42 minutes Blake and Sessions have shared the court in the past 5 games their OEff/DEff numbers are 103.3/109.9, while the numbers for a Sessions/Ebanks pairing are 108.0/99.6.

Ebanks isn’t an ideal solution due to his youth and spotty outside shooting. His D can still use some work too. But in a season of searching for a back up SG, the Lakers look to have found one based off how he fits into the team structure and how he plays to his strengths all while being an above average athlete with very good size for the position. And if that means for 6 to 8 minutes a night the Lakers run him at SG rather than Blake, I’m all for it.

*Statistical support for this story from NBA.com