Update: Antawn Jamison Day-to-Day with Sprained Wrist

Darius Soriano —  March 24, 2013

Antawn Jamison came out of Friday’s game to the Wizards clutching his right wrist. He didn’t return to the game and afterwards had X-rays taken that thankfully came back negative. On Saturday, Jamison had an MRI on that wrist and the results allowed a brief sigh of relief:

Jamison plans to play through the injury and should be in the lineup when the Lakers travel to Oakland to play the Warriors on Monday. Again, this is good news and allows Lakers’ fans to exhale for a moment.

However, while breathing that sigh of relief, there should also be some concerns about how effective Jamison can be with an injured wrist on his shooting hand. Jamison is a player whose value resides almost exclusively on the offensive side of the ball. He is the Lakers best bench scorer and is a key rotation player based on a skill set that revolves around getting buckets. Anything that compromises his ability to perform this task is problematic.

And a bad wrist on his shooting hand is something that has a good chance of doing just that. Anyone who has ever sprained their wrist knows how it affects range of motion and how painful it can be when it gets flexed the wrong way. Considering a jump shot is completed by snapping your wrist to propel the ball forward, I don’t see any way in which this injury doesn’t affect Jamison’s outside shot. I’m not questioning his ability to play through pain — nor do I know how much pain he’s actually in — but I’m simply stating the fact that any wrist injury will affect a player’s ability to shoot a basketball.

Furthermore, Jamison’s a player who relies heavily on craft around the basket to score. He’s very good at scoring on flip and scoop shots and is also great at drawing fouls when taking shots at awkward angles or with strange timing. If his wrist affects his touch on those shots, his ability to score around the rim could be compromised. Plus, if his unorthodox approach around the rim leads to more contact when he’s attempting shots, he could be exposing himself to the types of swipes and hits that lead to him hurting his wrist further.

I’m quite happy that Jamison is going to gut through this injury and try to play. He’s become a vital part of the Lakers’ rotation and considering the team is in the home stretch, they need all available bodies to aid their push towards the post-season. That said, this is a tricky injury for a player like Jamison to navigate and it wouldn’t surprise me if his ability to perform at pre-injury levels is compromised. And if that ends up being the case, one has to wonder how that changes the Lakers’ rotations (if at all) and what the domino effect would be on the team not just from a production standpoint, but in terms of rotations and player groupings.

Of course, I’m getting ahead of myself here and there’s a chance Jamison will be just fine. He’s a veteran player, knows his body, and may have experience in adjusting to an ailment on his shooting hand. Players who’ve been around along as him have surely dealt with nearly every kind of injury there is and have found ways to work around most things that don’t keep them off the floor. I think we all hope this turns out to be the case.

But if it’s not, the Lakers are once again going to have to adjust to having a key rotation player banged up. It’s something that is, sad to say, something they’ve had a lot of experience with this year.

Darius Soriano

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40 responses to Update: Antawn Jamison Day-to-Day with Sprained Wrist

  1. Seems like a sprained wrist on the shooting hand would have to be a problem. With Pau back, someone was going to get less minutes anyway. So I’d expect now to see less Jamison and more Clark. Either way, this Laker team, at best, looks like a first round playoff exit.

  2. Had Jamison not been injured he would’ve been out there in crunchtime. It’s on his shooting hand so hopefully he can adjust and continue to spread the floor.

    To continue from the last thread about D’Antoni. Kobe labeled him an offensive genius and that may have been a mistake. He’s not running sets that give an equal opportunity to everybody and that highlight each players strengths. What he is doing is the equivalent of say Memphis running PnR all game and forcing Randolph to spread the floor and shoot 15-18 footers all game. But Memphis doesn’t do that they pound the ball inside and give both bigs post touches. Or Indiana running PnR all game asking West to shoot 15-18 footers all game instead of bully his defenders in the paint. The starting 5, aside from the fact they’re 6-12 when they play together, aren’t fit to run what D’Anton is running but he keeps running it. It took Brown a year to figure it out but he figured it out. Lakers have one elite shooter on their starting 5 but continue to spread the floor and shoot with 18 seconds left on the shot clock given space. One could say 4 of the Lakers starters greatest strength are their post up games. The thing to do would be to play inside out and slow the game down. That’s one of a couple problems I have with D’Antoni is, basically forcing Pau into 18 footers when he’s one of the best post players in the league. At his age beating someone of f the dribble isn’t happening so when he gets the ball he either has to swing it or shoot it. More effort should be made play to his strengths.

    Defensively while they would be limited I think more can be done to make them better starting with being disciplined. But the coach prefers an offensively lineup to end games so the team will probably focus more on that end. Brown favored Ebanks and Hill while D’Antoni likes Meeks and Jamison. Tells us all we need to know.

  3. Aloha Kevin,

    First of all I never thought that Mike D was the right coach for this roster but that said, I think he is taking way to much heat. I agree that the biggest short coming has been not utilizing the post players like he should be. However part of the problem is the same problem we had in Phil’s last year and under Brown. The outside shooting has not been consistent enough to scare the other team, so they are still sagging in the paint and clogging the lane. The only way to defeat that is through crisp ball movement and Mike D preaches that. So you have to put some of that on the players.

    If a team is defeating your defensive scheme and you do not adjust then it’s on the coach. But if the team is not executing the scheme again it’s on the players too. And I have a hard time believing that the the coaching staff told the team to just ignore Ariza and let him take uncontested 3 point shots. I think thats why Mike went off on the team after the game and I’m glad he did. They really deserved a kick in the butt. There were also people questioning why Kobe wasn’t on Wall in the 4th quarter. I think that had more to do with Kobe’s ankle then any coaching issue.

    It’s just really hard to find any kind of rhythm with the kind of injuries we have went through this year. The starters have only played together in 4 games. Howard wasn’t himself until recently. Steve missed all of that time and still was affected by the nerve issue in his leg until recently. Pau played through knee and foot issues. Metta played through a month long hip injury. Hill went down and Blake missed all of that time as well. So it’s just not all black and white when it comes to the coaching staff. You mentioned Ebanks and Hill instead of Meeks and Jamison. Well Ebanks hasn’t been able to get on the floor with 3 different coaches this year. Actually Mike D gave him the most opportunity early and he looked terrible. As for Hill, he was in the rotation until he hurt himself and the blog was all wondering why Jamison wasn’t getting any minutes.

  4. Michael H: D’antoni has definitely taken his fair share of heat this year some justified some not. This is the first year in a while where lakers fans haven’t been able to truly see the potential of the roster because of multiple injuries. Usually it’s one big at the beginning of the season or a small injury during. This year basically all the top 8 players have had some sort of thing ailing them. Many teams have dealt with this a few times but this is foreign territory for the Lakers.

    Mentioning the Lakers lack of 3 point specialists to me gives all the more reason to focus on owning the paint rather than focusing on 3 point shots from players who are league average at best. It’s D’Antoni’s system and he believes that gives the best chance to win. That may be the case and that style fits the second unit better. I’m sure nobody would be opposed to seeing them bring a different tempo like Phil used to try to do with his second unit. I’m not opposed to the Lakers playing that style but it should be primarily for the second unit. Pau can’t be aggressive when he’s out of his element. We saw when Dwight was out as Pau was catching his stride what he can do being a low post option. Lakers should get back to that. As a Lakers fan being used to seeing a dominant big control the game for so many years it’s frustrating seeing the opposite game plan happen while having a roster that begs the style of play to be post centric. It’s been games where Kobe has literally played from the post all game and Lakers have been successful until crunch time. Lakers are more likely to win games below 100 points than ones that become shoot outs. D’Anotni’s style puts Lakers shootouts with teams we shouldn’t be trying to outscore.

    The Ebanks and Hill mention was just comparing philosophies of both coaches. One focused on defense the other offense. Brown also benched his two best players in 4th quarters, maybe sending that type of message would up Kobe’s focus on defense.

  5. Harvey: Excellent response in the last thread. Very well thought out. I do not see anything in your post with which I completely disagree, and much in fact, that I do agree with. With regard to Nash being a little below where he was, and then the league, moving a little away from him – agreed. Also agree that this alone is not the issue. As to the fit with Kobe and our offense – you are dead on. Isn’t this ironic though that Nash of all people is effectively – not being utilized properly? He is an offensive genius, and we are running an offense (or at least the version we execute) that does not require that. Now granted, this could be a bad match from the start which would be more of a Mitch/Jim, thing than an MD or Nash thing. With regard to your additive talent formula – agreed once again. All star teams often fail. However they are also often successful (the Heat for example). So it is up to the players and the coach to make that happen. However, one could also question the concept that the FO deployed. As to your hopes for the future, yes – I have the same and then some. I am not giving up on this year, so in addition to learning about “what was needed”, I would like to have some actual success this year !! With regard to “what will be needed”, that certainly implies that something will be, which means you agree with rr and I : ) Where we may all differ is what exactly that might be – and in my case – I am not yet sure what that is : )

  6. Robert,

    Thanks..I think it is true what some said that the Pau injury was a bit of a blessing in disguise in that it allowed things to develop more along the preferred Dantoni/Nash style for a while without the distraction of Pau fitting in.

    For myself, I think whether this can work is still very hard to tell, and by “working” the big problem is that this is in a world where Miami looks like a dynasty. As for the Miami thing working, its rare that building through free agency works but Miami had two big differences working in their favour 1) the big FA signings (Lebron and Bosh) were much more in their prime and Lebron is arguably reaching a level very few ever reached and 2) almost as important, Miami was built with absolute maximum cap flexibility, so that everything else that was needed could be added with few serious cap problems. The lakers are the opposite of that…huge cap issues, such that it was hard for them to add even one more piece to compliment the big signings. This is largely due to the huge salaries being paid to Kobe and Pau, but even there, there is a silver lining…the huge salaries to those 2 guys, are the by-product and almost necesarry evil of paying for the last 2 rings. So while that may be a frustration now, for you longer term fans, there is something much more recent to hold on to.

    My only hope is that there will be patience. This last painful loss came in the first game back for Kobe and Pau. Hopefully over the next few games, there will be a bit of a work out. Its not very trendy to be patient, as many have already christened this a failure. We’ll see.

  7. “Am I talking about Kobe (Bryant)?” D’Antoni said following practice Sunday. “I’m talking about Kobe, I’m talking about me, I’m talking about Dwight (Howard), I’m talking about Steve Nash, I’m talking about everybody. Now, to say one is more guilty than the other? No. It doesn’t really matter. It’s, ‘The Lakers screwed up.’ And the Lakers are going to go forward and try to fix it.”

    ==

    http://espn.go.com/los-angeles/nba/story/_/id/9093183/mike-dantoni-blames-all-los-angeles-lakers-loss-washington-wizards

  8. Miami Dynasty: If Riley is able to keep the band together for another string after 2014, then the rest of the league will be faced with one of three options: 1) Load up and try to compete 2) Waive a white flag and build for the future – post dynasty 3) Be the Atlanta Hawks, and be “competitive” without ever really contending.

    “Now, to say one is more guilty than the other? No. It doesn’t really matter. It’s, ‘The Lakers screwed up.” : Exactly what MD or anyone else associated with the Lakers should say now. However – after the year – behind closed doors – there will perhaps be some individual accountability : ) I say “perhaps”, because Jim may decide to keep 90% of everything intact, and the much of the roster is very difficult to significantly change before 14 anyway. By change – I really mean improve – cause we could change it by letting DH go – which would be a disastrous move.

  9. rr

    It’s one thing to lose or play badly, another to blame your players. Failing to switch Kobe off his ghost defense on Trevor, failing to try anyone like Morris, Kobe, Meeks, Smush on Wall when he was killing Nash and failing to call time outs and plays to get the ball out of Kobe’s and into the guy who was 8 for 9 is all, all, all on this poor coach and no one else.

    Just listening to his excuse ridden, inarticulate, county bumpkin mumbling interviews makes me more angry then I have been in 20 years of Lakers. IMO he is embarrassment to the Laker Brand every
    time he opens his mouth. Would you hire that guy for any job? Maybe tractor sales or used cars in Omaha. Sure this is not a team going to win it all, but the right coach makes them a 4th or 5th seed at least.

  10. We are one player away, A Shane Battier/Chalmers type player who has a fiery personality and is able to compete on both ends of the court against anyone in the league. I was hoping that EBanks or Meeks would be that player but Meeks has no idea how to play defense and Ebanks is a useless chubby player. We are being outcoached most games also because Dantoni refuses to make any defensive adjustments in the game.

  11. D’Antoni deserves blame for issues regarding the rotation or defensive assignments. But at what point do the players deserve blame for simply not doing their collective jobs? Kobe, for example, as recently as last season was on the all-defensive team. I’ve argued that he didn’t deserve that recognition, but the fact is, he’s an all-star performer and needs to do his job on that side of the floor. Also, you can blame the coaches for not setting up better offensive schemes down the stretch, but I’m also of the mind that the players on the floor must do a better job of sticking to the plan that’s been executed in earlier portions of the game. If you scan Kobe’s twitter timeline, you’ll see him admit to shooting too much down the stretch. I mean, as a veteran player and a champion, shouldn’t he recognize situations when on the floor? Does the coach really have to take a timeout every time to remind players how to execute the scheme installed? Kobe had no issues running the P&R effectively and picking out Dwight earlier in the game, why wasn’t that approach taken later too?

    My point in all this is that everyone is to blame and D’Antoni said as much. Nash could be more demanding while on the floor and not simply go away from the ball to set a screen for Kobe to try and free him up to get the ball (like he did on nearly every possession down the stretch including the one where Ron went one-on-the entire defense and drew a charge). Kobe could be more deferential and not be so intent on dominating possessions from the start and let Nash operate with the ball more. D’Antoni could be more vocal and make more adjustments to get players in better positions to succeed. And on and on I could go.

    The Lakers, as of now, have made a lot of strides to be a better team but what we’re seeing, in my opinion, is a team that’s still a work in progress. There are factors that contribute to that, but that’s what I see…a team that still hasn’t figured out all of their issues and how to play together for an entire game. Part of that is Kobe. Part of that is coaching. Part of that is Nash. But the results are what we saw on the floor late in the Wizards game. I see no point in bashing D’Antoni (especially not for how he talks) when, in fact, everyone needs to be held accountable for their failures on both sides of the ball.

  12. Aloha Robert,

    I wouldnt hold my breathe waiting for big changes next. They’re hands are somewhat tied until 2014. I mean the FO did about as well as they could last year when you consider that both Meeks and Jamison took LESS money to come here. Kind of shows what a combine 3 mill gets you. Even Nash was as good as we could have gotten. Would have liked to have kept Barnes but then who have guessed that Ebanks was going to completely implode this year.

    Next year we have the same problem, stuck in mini level land. I’m sure that we will try to move Pau but that will be problematic as well. 1st we have to find players that actually make us better better. 2nd we will have to take back 80% of 19mil in contracts. One thing I do know is the FO will not take back any contracts that is going to mess up 2014 flexibility.

    All that said let’s just hope we can come together at least enough to set up a run for next year. Who knows maybe can convince a decent free agent to play for the mini next year.

  13. Of course there is blame to go around, but only one person has the power to sit guys down and dole out playing time. Letting your players get away with terrible defensive effort and repeatedly poor execution down the stretch on offense, and only getting visibly angry AFTER the game with the media? That’s weak sauce–particularly for a guy so comfortable putting (and keeping) certain guys in the dog house.

  14. Funky,
    I agree, but it’s also a no win situation for a coach to sit down Kobe Bryant down the stretch of any closely contested game. I don’t care how warranted it is, that’s simply not happening. Phil never did it and I surely don’t expect D’Antoni to.

  15. great thread everyone –
    I believe an inside-out game plan to be the best for the 1st unit and, as has been astutely suggested, have the 2nd unit change the tempo and feel of the squad .
    As for Jamison, hope Darius is right and he finds a way to play through the injury effectively-
    I feel Pau´s return, in a reasonable amount of time (though limited because of where we are in the season), is going to be a huge boost for us

  16. I agree with what your saying Darius, but My main complaint with D’antoni is the Pace of the game and Defensive assignments. If he sees Nash being torched by a fast point guard and Kobe slacking off shooters. Just Switch them and force Ariza to post up on Nash. D’antoni still has not learned the teams personnel and how they play. Coach Jackson best quality was that his teams knew what pace to play at, We need to slow the game down and its D’antoni’s job to keep reminding the team but he prefers a faster pace which i do not agree with.

  17. Michael H: You are totally correct and I am painfully aware of that. This was a 2 year gamble and next year is the 2nd year. We can of course hope for better health of the roster, but everyone will be a year older, that is for sure.
    Kobe: He is not an easy guy to coach or to confront with anything controversial. Only one guy has proven he can do it, so that is more a credit to him, than it is a knock on the others who have tried.
    Purple: Yes – three things we can count on of late – Heat wins, Jazz losses, and good banter here. Well – 2 out 3 is not bad : )

  18. Robert, lol! You said it!

  19. Ken,

    That is pretty similar to the stuff you were saying about Brown last year. Might be time to recognize that the team just isn’t that good anymore.

  20. Darius, I don’t expect D’Antoni to call out Kobe either, but that’s the problem. They need a coach who can. Jackson may not have shoved Kobe in the chest as he did with Pau, but Phil had the gravitas and courage to express his dissatisfaction from time to time.

    No doubt that at this point in the season MDA will not sit his best players and risk losing a game, but that’s the problem with waiting this long to do it. Much is made about Kobe being “untouchable” but he completely respects players who don’t back down from him, and I think it’s reasonable to say that he’d respond well to good, tough coaching.

    I don’t want to focus on Kobe here, though, because the issue is larger than that. I’m just not sure that this coach is a very good communicator. Early in the year more than one player claimed to be confused over their role in the rotation. Now, coming down the stretch in games they routinely abandon what was working and stand around watching Kobe. They just don’t seem to be on the same page or have any kind of discernible system.

  21. As to Miami, I think they will probably get a threepeat. But even asuming James stays there, I don’t think that you can project ahead further than that. As far as Robert’s “three options” thing, I don’t entirely buy that. You have to build your team as best you can with the resources that you have, regardless of what anyone else is doing, and you can’t stop selling tickets until LeBron James gets old. That is especially true for teams in the West. Miami is really only relevant to the Lakers (or any other team in the West) in the event that the Lakers play them in the Finals.

    As a few people have pointed out, the new CBA was designed in part due to Miami. It will be harder to fit three max guys under the cap in the future and may be harder to put together 60-65 win teams. We have already seen one move that indicates this: the James Harden deal. It was karmic, I thought, that the first team to decide to give up a big star due to CBA issues was a team in one of the smallest markets in the league.

  22. Funky,
    Two points on that…

    First, I agree that D’Antoni could be a better communicator…at least from what it seems to outsiders. I’ve no clue what he’s like in practice or film sessions (or in the huddles for that matter), but he can come off as too vague at times and based off what’s transpired with Gasol, I’d lean towards him not being the best at communicating with guys. And, as far as benching a guy, I remember when Mike Brown “benched” Kobe (as well as Bynum) and how that sort of gave him a credibility in terms of doing what was necessary (even if at the time I thought sitting Kobe was much ado about nothing).

    Second, and on the other hand, I think Phil had the skins on the wall from the beginning (and later simply through the amount of time he coached Kobe) to be able to say whatever he wanted about any player in public and it not really matter. That’s the dual beauty of not only having won a bunch of titles, but also of having an established and long standing relationship with a player that comes from being his coach for a long time. The only coach that has that type of stature now is Popovich with Duncan/Parker/Ginobili (and with his championship history).

    Basically, though, at this point, I tend to think that D’Antoni is in a rough spot from the time he took over. He started in a hole, didn’t have a camp to better establish roles, and essentially had to play to win every game from the get go. That involves walking a fine line of doing what’s best long term and short term which can be a difficult situation to balance. I’m not really trying to defend him here — I’m of the mind that this is the job he signed up for and this is the type of stuff that comes with coaching the Lakers and Kobe Bryant — but the circumstances he’s found himself in are real and challenging.

  23. The Lakers as constituted will not make it out of the first round, barring a total collapse by the other side. There are just too many flaws, as recent losses to garbage teams like the Suns and Wizard illustrate all too clearly.

    Next summer will be interesting to say the least. If Howard stays, the natural move will be to trade Pau, and that begets the next mystery of “What can the Lakers get for a guy coming off a bad year who’s owed max money?” Teams will have the Lakers at a disadvantage knowing that Kupchak and Buss won’t want to pay two bigs top dollar — particularly after they didn’t click well together on the floor this season.

    Howard’s all about Howard, by his own admission, so he could drag out the process by not clearly stating his plans sooner than he chooses, which in turn limits the front office’s ability to move forward with Pau, as he won’t be dealt until after Howard’s situation is cleared up.

    Regardless of which pieces move, the Lakers need to get some younger legs. I wouldn’t redo the Artest for Ariza change in 2009 as it produced a title, but today I’d much rather have a guy like Ariza than Ron, if only for the youth factor. Bottom line, with Nash and Kobe this team will remain old and slow at some spots — the trick will be plugging the holes around them better than could be done this year.

  24. Darius

    You are so even minded and logical I am impressed. Wish I could see both sides of the coin. I guess I watch the control that the Pop type coaches have and compare it to the seemly out of control the Lakers gave and get mad. I feel players should be held accountable during games and this coach doesn’t.

    I know your right but I guess I am just a sore loser. Thanks

  25. Darius,

    As you can imagine I totally agree and have been saying much the same for much of the year. 1) this is still a work in progress…remember how long even Shaq and Kobe needed to come together…all of these pieces need time to mesh….That is true of every “new” team…and with no training camp, and a need to win from the outset that just created a crazy pressure cooker for Dantoni (and Nash)…It sounds like excuses and is not a very “manly” point of view but I think it is the correct one. And I think those who say the team is just bad, are missing the boat. Not that prior history is irrelevant, just that it needs to be “discounted”. this team is still playing at only 65% of its potential, and getting to 100%, if they can, could cure a lot of ills, like poor perimeter defence.

    2) we thought that significant strides had been made but there was still the messy bit of reintroducing Pau (and even Kobe who is still coming off of a pretty major injury)…And there is still the messy bit of playing better D and running a better offence in the last 8 mins.

    3) Dantoni is not without blame, but he sure has been dealt a tough hand and very few here or anywhere are giving him much leeway.

  26. Kobe, Dwight, Pau, Nash! Dealt a tough hand? Try being Cavs, Kings, Hornets, Magic etc etc etc.

  27. The Lakers have made a two year gamble worthy of Jerry Buss, but it hasn’t come together. It’s not a gamble I would even have considered, but it’s not a gamble they can take back.

    Unlike rr and others on this board, I believe in the talent of the Lakers as a team–so the real issue for me is communication and leadership: all eyes point to Mike. Start with the obvious mismatch between the roster and the coach’s style, add a roster that desperately needs closure, add the injuries, and you’ve got a disaster. It is a tribute to the professionalism of Mike and the players that they have vestiges of a true team.

    If the gamble is to succeed, there is a way to go. I personally can’t see it happening with Mike as the coach. I’m not sure that it can happen with another coach either–but the cards have already been dealt . . .

  28. Harvey,
    The Shaq & Kobe teams are an interesting comparison because, historically, one of their major downfalls was coaching. Del Harris arguably had a more talented team than the one that Phil Jackson took to a championship in his first season, but fell short (and in many ways flamed out with the way those teams were swept out of the playoffs). My point is that it’s a tricky situation for D’Antoni because if he’s unable to win with this roster (more next season than this one, imo), he could end up being a a Del Harris like figure for this franchise.

    I’m not saying that’s necessarily fair and I, as stated above, acknowledge the tough hand that he’s been dealt. But he’s taken missteps in utilizing this roster and in finding ways to piece together schemes that truly fit the personnel in a way that allows the players to fully complement each other. I’m not saying that’s an easy task, but there are things that many people — smart analysts — thought would work and did work in small samples that he either went away from quickly or still hasn’t tried in very large samples. From rotations to tweaks in his scheme. These things play into the perception that he’s stubborn and don’t really help his cause with more critical fans nor with those who generally give him the benefit of the doubt.

  29. Ken,

    You are like jekyll and hyde…you agree with Darius, I make essentially the same argument with some embellishments and now you are down my throat.

    Ok tough hand, yes he had a lot of talent, but he came into a situation where most of the fan base already hated him quite passionately, and with a zeal that was ‘off the charts”, were teased and pissed off by the courting and then rejecting of PJ, was in a must win situation on a team that has huge expectations, was totally top heavy and with a weak bench, and where the 3 of the 4 “top” where either severely injured, chronically injured and/or suffering from overuse symptoms, or were coming off major surgery, and were not near ready to play…so yes in that sense he was dealt a tough hand.

  30. Darius,

    Interesting and more nuanced analysis than what I usually get back, and I agree with most of it, but I think the book is still to be written…I think for instance, that there were moments with Pau and Dwight on the floor where they were starting to figure something out, but then they both got injured.. so I would like to see if he will come back to that.

    But I do agree that he can be rigid…

    Here is the real bottom line for me…Nash said at one time “we can’t play one way with one group and a different way with another group (sic)….” and I think that is essentially wrong. I think they need to play one way with Nash and with Blake and another way a more Kobe/Pau focussed line-up. I have come to agree with the multiple line ups you and RR have discussed, but with one wrinkle since I think there needs to be a plan for when Dwight and Pau are on the floor together as that will have to happen, as no one in their right mind would allow them to share 48…And that is where they will need something that seemingly goes most away from Dantoni’s systemology. So that will be the real test.

    But I think to suggest that that is the way to go is pretty radical, as I can’t think of any team that has essentially run 3 different offences, and really working something like that would take time. So I am no longer really sure. Can they do that? Is Dantoni then wrong for trying to get them to play “just one way”. And while yes he asked for and did some infexible things like asking Pau to be a stretch 4 for a few games he dumped that pretty quickly, and in Pau’s most succesful stint had him in the low block and posting up a fair bit. So while I agree that the book is still out, and that he can be inflexible, there have been flashes of flexability that shows that he can and has learned.

    Would be curious to hear what you think of this, and where you think he has passed up ideas that would have really helped the team.

  31. Harvey,
    Early in his tenure he went away from lineups featuring Pau and Hill when those lineups, from a statistical standpoint were some of the better performing units. Hill now is of course injured so there’s no going back down that path. But I found it interesting that he played Hill/Howard together for long stretches even though those lineups were pretty bad defensively. Granted, I praised D’Antoni for trying different things and for trying to get more defense on the floor by using Hill more, but in the end he was playing Hill at the expense of Jamison and never did find a 4 man PF/C rotation when to many it was clear that ideal pairings would be Hill/Pau and Jamison/Dwight.

    Also, he’s not really tried any actions for sustained stretches that involve both big men in any box to box screening actions, even though he’ll use those actions between a guard and a big man. For example, he’ll have Kobe screen for Dwight and vice versa on box to box screens but does little of that for Pau and and Howard. Also, he insists on playing Pau in the above the break spot in the offense that almost guarantees he’ll take the long two pointer rather than using Pau in the corner where it’s easier to sneak into the shallow baseline area as a secondary option in the P&R. Maybe it’s easier to keep that spot open to have Nash/Blake dribble into the paint, but a tweak to the offense would be to have Nash and Blake not look for penetration as much off the P&R and instead keep the dribble flatter to have both bigs playing below the FT line where duck-ins are more available and can be turned into post chances more easily.

    There are several little tweaks like this that incorporate more standard big man options but D’Antoni seems intent on having his offense be very much guard/wing centric. I also think — and this is based off how the players actually play and the shots they often take — that he encourages the wing men to take the three pointer when the ball is swung their way rather than looking for the big man inside as their first read. Many times Pau or Dwight are fighting for position in the post but rather than hold the ball an extra beat the shot is going up. Now, it’s just as easy to blame the wing man in that instance, especially Ron and Meeks since they’re the players who often fire up these quick shots. But even guys like Jamison and Blake are guilty of this and they’re players who do look inside more. That leads me to believe that players are encouraged to shoot this shot as their first read. If you recall how the Magic played under Stan Van Gundy, the wing man’s first read was almost always to Howard (especially in the last two seasons) and that’s one of the reasons why Dwight was able to get more FGA’s before he could be fouled. Now that he’s healthier, I wouldn’t mind seeing more entries inside when the ball is swung rather than quick jumpers that are there at almost any point of the shot clock.

    Lastly, I think it’s fair to question whether or not playing at the 3rd fastest pace in the league is the best strategy for this team. I’ve been meaning to write about this for a long time, but one thing that D’Antoni said in his introductory press conference was that teams with superior talent should play faster to encourage more possessions in order to maximize that talent discrepancy. This is a classic argument from those that have a statistical/analytics approach to the game. However, I’m also a firm believer in the fact that style and talent have to blend in order for results to be maximized. At this point it’s an open question as to whether a team with two big men who can play well in the post (as well as a guard in Kobe who, statistically in terms of points per play is one of the best post up players in the league) should be encouraged to play so quickly and not play out of the post very often. To me it’s no coincidence that some of the Lakers’ best performances came when Kobe was playing a more post heavy game rather than him attacking out of the P&R. I’ve got several things to say on this point but one of the major ones is that Kobe’s long been a player who thrives in the mid-post on the weak side of the offense because that’s where he played for so many years in the Triangle. Lately, though, Kobe’s gone back to handling a lot more in the P&R. That’s been effective because Dwight has been healthier and has been setting some crushing screens but it remains to be seen if Kobe (rather than Nash) should be handling the ball so much in that type of set AND if the team shouldn’t mix in more post up plays for Kobe, Pau, and Dwight wether they’re on the floor together or when they’re staggered.

    Again, I’ve been meaning to write on this and will at some point, but I think there are things to explore or go to more that could help this team play better. I’d add, though, that D’Antoni hasn’t gotten enough credit for going away from his bread and butter and has found tweaks that have helped this team turn around their season. But I’ve also seen a lack of consistency in sticking to those tweaks with the team ultimately going back to a lot of P&R heavy sets for long stretches. Now that Pau is back, though, I think there are ways to do things a bit differently that could mix it up more that could work. I should say I’m no head coach but these are some things I’ve seen work in the past and do think they can work now, with this roster, for this team if they committed to them.

  32. Darius,

    Great stuff..that gives a lot to chew on….I think many of those are great observations, and overall I think he does need to figure out how to use more post ups, but also think he has allowed that more than I would have expected. And its just very refreshing to not have to respond to the usual knee jerk, Dantoni’s an idiot stuff.

    And while I hate being cast in the role of the Dantoni defender, I think there are reasons some of that has not happened. First and foremost is that with Dwight seemingly unwilling to even set a screen before the all star break, and with the high screen by the big, being kind of the cornerstone of everything Dantoni stands for, I think we can all acknowledge that it was pretty hard for Dantoni to get a chance to see even anything vaguely like his system being implemented in even the most basic of ways. Since the all star break thats changed but that means we are less than 20 games into implementing even his most basic stuff. In that context, I can kind of understand him being slavish to them getting the basic of the high screen down first before we see more of the nuanced elements.

    The other big thing for me, and I will acknowledge that I am no lakers expert here, is that while the FO may have been talking the talk of a different faster type of showtime 2 offence, there was a disconnect between that and the nature of the personnel that would have been very hard for Dantoni to decipher. And more to the point, it seems to me that this has been a team that has always used more ISO sets and less PNR, so that when the sh@@@te hit the fan, the first instinct was to do the opposite of what Dantoni preached. In short, there were philisophical and personnel discrepancies embedded in the DNA of the team that made it hard for him to even get his basic ideas out. So again, in this particular case, I can kind of see, why he actually needed to be a bit more rigid and doctrinaire in order to counter the natural tendancy to oppose his more ball movement PNR oriented type of ideas.

    That is why I say this is still a process and why I agree that this is still a work in progress. What Dantoni stands for seems almost diametrically opposed to how the lakers have run themselves most recently, and I think a meeting “in the middle” is what is needed to maximize the potential of this team, and that will take time. In that amorphis middle I think you will get the melding of all of these styles and a truly dynamic and multi faceted offence that will make the lakers if nothing else a joy to watch.

    One last thought…many seem disappointed with Nash and while I get it, I don’t think Nash is actually much less or different than what he has been most recently…when I compare this team to the last lakers chip team, and we say that more or less Dwight replaces Drew, what is missing and what many seemed to have expected (not really but more what the team was missing) was for Nash to kind of replace Odom. With Odom you had another real slasher who was better suited to create on his own and who didn’t really need a PNR to get going. That seemed to meld very well with how Kobe, Drew and Pau naturally played. Of course, he also brought a ton of defensive skills as well. Unfortunately, that guy is gone, and I can see how much he is missed. But in bringing in Nash, you are getting someone different perhaps someone who will never provide what that 4th superstar provided, in terms of his length, diversified skills and great defensive presence, but someone who can help create a truly dynamic and multi-facted offence. But in order for him to be fully effective, there needs to be more of an acceptance of a somewhat different way to play at least some of the time, which involves the use of more PNR.

  33. Good discussion. Two points:
    1) From Darius above: “(more next season than this one, imo),” For those in the “fire him now” camp, 2014 would be a more natural point to re-evaluate the coaching slot. Clearly the team will undergo some signficant changes that year, so hiring a new coach now, and then resetting the team after 1 year would be challenging.
    2) On the other hand, this was a 2 year deal (for the team – not MD) from the start, so saying it is a “work in process” or that this was “tough hand”, while true, is also saying that the homework is not completed and the tests are not being aced. Any coach could have received this job and made those claims and they would be equally true. We need positive reasons why he is the correct man for the job – not saying there aren’t any.

    Darius: I have thought about he Del comparison myself. He lasted into his 5th year and had a very talented team as you noted. I am hoping this time either results are different or duration is shorter. The question is, at what point do you cut losses, as with our young team in the late 90’s, there were those who were saying “work in process” during Del’s 3rd and 4th years. We don’t need work in process – we need finished goods : ) Good stuff.

  34. I think the last comment about pace is really the knockout punch in the case against D’Antoni. To advocate an almost league-high pace for a team that is as old and as big and as slow as the Lakers is the perfect example of stubbornness. Yes, this has historically been MDA’s style, so in hiring him the organization knew what they were getting, but the inability or unwillingness to change is a troublesome characteristic for a head coach, and may help to explain this particular coach’s past failures (most recently with a Knick team that was undeniably better without him). Sadly, this was also the problem with MDA’s predecessor in Los Angeles.

    With all of that, I don’t think coaching is this team’s biggest issue. There arent many great coaches in the NBA, but that doesn’t stop other teams from playing well. Our biggest weakness, I think, is the age and lack of athleticism and depth of this roster, and Pau is the poster child for this problem. You could spread Pau’s $19 million salary among anywhere from two to four players from almost any other team in the league and instantly upgrade the Laker roster. When most teams get more from $5 million than you do for $19 million, you have issues.

  35. The biggest problem is how the Lakers often speed up the pace – the frequent turnovers leading to short LA possessions followed by 3 second opponent possessions (ending in dunks) that have killed the team. The typical Laker possession is not really a rushed thing.

    If the Lakers eliminated those stupid unforced turnovers their defensive numbers would look a lot better, they would have a few more points every night, a bit slower pace and a few more wins.

  36. Harvey:
    “disconnect between that and the nature of the personnel ”
    “philosophical and personnel discrepancies embedded in the DNA of the team”

    I hope you see that I am being very balanced about this, as you are being. (I will not yet render my appraisal of MD). That said, I was not being at all balanced when the decision to bring MD in, was made. I wanted Phil in case you did not know : ) Given what we were told by Jim Buss about the hire and the reasons for it, can you imagine if I were to have been given a crystal ball look forward to your post at the time? We were told he was a good fit for the roster, better suited for our style and our players, how he and Nash would get their band back together, how MD’s olympic background would work with Pau, and we were also told of this KB Italian connection so they would be like two long lost twins. I agree that “if” those things are not true (not saying they aren’t) , then it is not MD’s fault – because he is who he is. However, if this were a blind date, after reading your post, I might question the software that the dating site is using : ) Or perhaps the Lakers did not fill out their questionnaire accurately : )

  37. So which is worse Jamison’s fresh injury or Clark’s nagging injuries, and who is higher up on the depth ladder now? We got Dwight because he is Dwight. But we took him without regard to making an overall roster. I think Mitch did an excellent job at improving our bench compared to last year. He plugged the spots up mostly with budget guys who I think for what we are paying them are great players. He did not have the flexibility to get some mid tier guys who are more rounded players.

  38. Yes, I have said several times (as have others) that pace and 3PAs are the best arguments against D’Antoni. The Lakers are 3rd in Pace Factor and 3rd in 3PAs, but middle-of-the-pack in 3p% (13th at the moment, but they were 16th just a week ago).

    When MDA was hired, a friend of mine was pessimistic, saying that the Lakers lacked the speed and the shooters to run the system. I said I thought MDA would adapt. He has, a bit, but not enough IMO.

    As to Pau/roster construction, while I understood it, I said at the time he was extended that the deal was a little too expensive and/or a year too long, and I said the same thing about Kobe’s deal. Given where the team was and what Kobe and Pau had just done, and who they are, I can see it, but there is a cost. Between age, international play and how hard he was worked by both Phil and Brown, Pau’s body seems to be breaking down. The MWP deal is similar on a lower level: he did what he was brought in to do in 2010, and it was worth it. But there is a cost. The Lakers are paying it now.

  39. Harvey M, Darius: great posts.

    Even though a slight change in philosophy would really help this team somehow Lakers have found themselves in games halfway through the 4th quarter. Don’t want to sound like a D’Antoni basher but I minus well keep the streak alive from my earlier posts. The late game offense and play calling out of timeouts leave a lot to be desired. With 4 hofers on the team multiple sets could be run but instead we rely on miracles from Kobe. Nothing wrong with this because we’ve seen him come through many times including a few recently, but a little more diversity late would help. Kobe had been prone to turnovers that lead to fastbreaks and lots of standing around happen at this point of the game. This also would be a good time to get a few post touches from the many options lakers have. Then the out of bounds play calling usually consists of 30 foot prayers from Kobe. No other player in the league will make these tough, tough shots as consistently as Kobe has made them lately. These wow moments we’ve come to enjoy from Kobe throughout his career hide iffy play calling. There have been and will be plenty of opportunities for D’Antoni to show his offensive prowess the next time Lakers find themselves in close game in crunchtime. And if it continues to be what we’ve seen I think all criticism are justified.

    I don’t understand the criticism of Pau. When Dwight was out and getting ejected Pau played center and played great. We’ve seen him played well this year it’s up to the coach to put back in position to do it again.

  40. There arent many great coaches in the NBA, but that doesn’t stop other teams from playing well.

    This is a point that I have made several times, so obviously I agree. Exhibit A is the team that shares Staples with the Lakers. It is an unprovable counterfactual so not really worth arguing about, but it is my personal belief that absent the Veto, Del Negro would have gotten canned last summer and Mike Brown would still be the Lakers’ coach.

    That said, I think there is an argument to be made that D’Antoni is doing things that hurt the Lakers’ chances and those things should be examined. But while coaches matter a lot, the NBA is, ultimately, a players’ league, a talent league, and a superstars’ league, and a league in which you need your other guys to complement your stars, not duplicate their flaws. And when guys are as old as Pau, Nash, and Kobe, or coming off major back surgery like Howard, it is harder for them to be stars/superstars.