Thoughts from China, Lakers vs. Warriors

Darius Soriano —  October 15, 2013

The Lakers played their first game in China early in the a.m. PST, losing to the Warriors 100-95. The loss drops the Lakers to 2-3 in the preseason, but the record isn’t really something that concerns me. In fact, I don’t have too many concerns about this team as they progress through their prep to the regular season. It’s not that this team is some sort of powerhouse with no weaknesses — they’re not that at all — but more the fact this team continues to play hard on both sides of the ball, is showing some smarts in how they execute their schemes, and is working to try and play to the strengths (both as a team and as individual players).

All in all, this leaves me feeling good about this team. They may not win a boatload of games and they’re still going to frustrate through some of the things they do, but with the work they’re doing and how they’re going about their process it’s hard to not root for this group. This isn’t something you could necessarily say about some of the recent versions of this team (especially, when recalling some of the drama, last year’s group).

With that said, the games, win or lose, continue to offer us insights into their progress and development. The loss to the Warriors was no different, opening the curtain a little bit wider to give us a clearer view of what this team is good (and not as good) at. So, onto my notes from the game…

*The more we see the Pau/Kaman duo start games, the more I think this will be the regular starting front-court once the real games start. Offensively they continue to show good chemistry, especially in the high-low games that start with both bigs at the elbows through the team’s HORNS sets. On the first play of the 2nd half, the Lakers ran the same action they so often ran when Dwight was still on the team, starting with an entry to Pau at the elbow and then having Nash cut through the lane and then set a back screen for the other big man who then dives to the rim. In this game, Nash set a great pick on Chris Kaman’s man and Pau hit his big man partner with a great pass that lead to an easy finish.

Where this duo is being tested, however, is on defense. David Lee scored at will in this game, hitting jumpers when either Pau or Kaman (but mostly Pau) didn’t want to venture too far out to guard him, driving by them when they did step out, and working in the post for good shots too. Andrew Bogut also did good work in the paint, scoring on dives out of the P&R and doing some good work out of the post as well. This work all reinforced the fact that even though Pau and Kaman offer good size, they’re not the best rim protectors and other team’s bigs (as well as their aggressive wings) will attack the paint and try to get good looks inside as often as they can. Whether Pau and Kaman can find ways to defend at a viable level remains to be seen, but some of the support they provided in this game didn’t inspire a lot of confidence.

*I continue to like what I see from Shawne Williams. The guy simply knows what his role is and doesn’t often try to step outside of it to do things he’s not great at. Offensively this means shooting when open and moving the ball when he’s not. He’s got good enough skill to dribble penetrate and will get to the rim if the path is there, but for the most part he’s penetrating only to draw the defense and to move the ball on to a teammate after the help comes. Defensively he’s proving to be mobile and active. He’s working to be in the right spots and has enough athleticism to get where he needs to be most of the time. He also fights on the glass and is a willing rebounder. When it’s all said and done, Williams looks like a real rotation player and could very much fill the spot that Earl Clark left open when he left for Cleveland.

*Nick Young played well, mostly because he hit shots but not only because he hit shots. While Young still stops the ball in order to work in isolation and shoot long jumpers, he’s also productively using his dribble to get closer to the rim where he’s drawing fouls and moving the ball when he doesn’t have an opening. He’s still out there to score the ball and when his shot is falling he can do that very well, but it’s also nice to see him do more than just fire up contested jumpers.

*When should we worry about Farmar (and to a bit lesser extent Wes Johnson) missing games? When Farmar was first ruled out a week ago, he (and the team) said this was mostly precautionary and that his injured calf wasn’t really a big deal. Now, though, he’s missed the last several games and there’s no official word on when he’ll be back. What’s most important is that he’s ready for the season and that he stays healthy once that time comes, but it would also be nice to see him in the lineup and get some idea that this calf issue really isn’t that serious.

*Ryan Kelly saw his first burn of the season and he played well in limited minutes. Not only did he hit two 3 pointers, but he also showed he’s a capable offensive player in other ways, showing a decent handle and nice post entry skills when he shared the floor with Pau Gasol. He also showed nice feel for how to move around the floor, drifting into open space where he could either shoot his jumper or move the ball on to an open teammate when the defense rotated to him. He also looked alright defensively, showing an understanding of where he should be in help situations. He has a long way to go before we can make any definitive statements about what kind of player he will be, but he showed some positive signs in this game.

*I noted on twitter that, based off performance to this point, I believe both Shawne Williams and Xavier Henry make the final roster. That would bring the roster to 13 players including the 11 guys with fully guaranteed deals on the team. That leaves two roster spots up for grabs with Ryan Kelly, Marcus Landry, and Elias Harris all fighting to make the team. This battle will likely go all the way towards the end of camp with several factors going into the decision.

With that said, here are some things to consider: Kelly has the best pedigree and good size. It’s also important to remember that he was drafted by the team and front offices often find it difficult to cut someone they’ve used real resources on. Especially in training camp. Harris has a very good all around skill set and, like Shawne Williams, really seems to understand his role and limitations, working to play within both. He’s got a “pro’s body” and has shown good athleticism on defense and the glass. He’s more of a “jack of all trades, master of none”, but that repertoire could come in handy down the line. Harris also has a partial guarantee ($100K) on his salary and that can’t be dismissed, even if it’s not a huge amount. Landry has shown he’ll compete and, despite some poor shooting numbers, has a good stroke. He also has a history with D’Antoni and has been the first of these fringe players to get into the game for the past few contests.

Which of these players, with their specific factors, gets the nod will be interesting. If it were me, I’d choose Harris and Kelly. Both are younger than Landry and both have more room to grow as players with as good or better talent bases. We’ll see how it goes, though.

Darius Soriano

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60 responses to Thoughts from China, Lakers vs. Warriors

  1. Right on analysis Darius. Interested in your thoughts on Nash. Defender seem to be crowding him and his passing seems to be off.

    Sticking to my prediction of 47 wins with a 80% Kobe. I like the demeanor of this team and feel they mesh much better this year.

  2. I agree somewhat harris and kelly would be good options but I do like Landry I feel once he get his stride his shots will be consistent, out of everyone he play with no fear

  3. G,
    In a perfect world, I think keeping all three of those guys and the team finding a way to get rid of one of the players with a guaranteed contract might be best. As I said on twitter, I think Meeks will find his way out of the rotation once Kobe and Farmar are back in the lineup. I think when push comes to shove, we may also see Wes Johnson get squeezed too. But, as we saw last year, I don’t think any player with a guaranteed deal gets cut and that means trading one (or more) of them for nothing. Considering the speculation associated with that, I’m not going down that path and, at least on these boards, neither is anyone else right now.

  4. Darius, i agree with your assessment to this point. actually, i think it’s one of the only reasoned reviews of the team so far….

  5. Gonna flip the script for a second…I know a lot of people are calling out Mark Jackson on him playing his starters in the final minutes of a preseason game but as a former coach albeit high school, gotta say that anytime you get the opportunity to simulate a situation (crunch time possessions) in a game that doesn’t count not using your own players in a live action (I swear I’m gonna end this sentence soon) it always helps and can be a good experience for players and coaches who need the stimulation too.

    Back to the mighty Lakers:

    Return of the Twin Towers: The irony here is that D’Antoni fought the idea of Gasol and Howard on the floor at the same time. So much so that he made it as if Earl Clark “gives the team the best chance to win” sorta mentality. I could see it with Bynum and I could see it with Howard as those are the top centers and they definitely give you an edge defensively from a shot blocking perspective. But Kaman is injury prone and is not a shot blocker…how is this spacing the floor? So now we see Gasol and Kaman as the twin towers? Teams are gonna try to run us out of the gym with that lineup.

    Less is more: I’m seeing good shooting by some of our players from distance but putting it on the floor and trying to do too much seems to be hurting the players…I get it…its a tryout but definitely gotta learn to play within yourself a la Trevor Ariza of 2009…

    Wes Johnson: No real analysis at this point for this guy but at what point do you say you know what your a bust in games. Its one thing to dominate in pickup games (Heyyyyyy Sasha!) but when the balls goes up primetime you gotta be able to deliver. Are we really going to keep this guy thinking he can somehow develop into a ….who was he comparable to coming out (Rashard Lewis?)…reminds me of the 49ers when they had JJ Stokes…knew he was awful but because they drafted him so high (number 7 I think) they played him over a certain someone drafted later than him (may have heard of him his last name was Owens)… Sorry to bag on Wes but I feel like he is being handed a rotational spot purely out of draft status and contract.

    And thats my rant for the tonight. I welcome the feedback…although I know its gonna be rough lol

  6. There is good reason to believe that we will be sporting the Pau-Kaman frontcourt come opening night. Its not the best combination defensively, or if you just imagine how white it looks, but for some reason, skill being the top of it, they are working together quite fine.

    Nick Young continues to impress me. I’m sure at some point he would break my heart but I have grown to like him as a player esp in the system that we play in. He is just a perpetual heat check and with Kobe out, he needs to stop being shy.

    Steve Nash will be fine. His conditioning is great for a 40yo, oldest player in the league. He needs to pick his spots offensively and needs to be able to get some screens for his jumpshot because everyone in the league respects that.

    Jodie Meeks is the oddest “starter” to me. I think he compliments the lack of footspeed by Nash but ultimately I want more flexibility on this position. I’d prefer a somewhat odd proposition to start at the wing before Kobe comes back and that would be Shawne Williams. I know were not trying to put eggs in 1 basket but that lineup is our best team out there.

    Nash – Young – Williams – Gasol – Kaman

    We have slashing, we have shooting, and defensively we’re not too far removed from our abilities. The speciality is scoring and lets work on our identity rather than do too much of what we’re not, and less of what we are.

    I like Ryan Kelly’s game. He’s somewhat of an eager beaver that tries to temper his urge, his shot fake has a very wide swing, and its becoming predictable but he is a pure shooter. I like his ability to come in a game where we need some quick buckets. He needs to improve his strength and stamina though, but this being his very 1st NBA game, its fine.

    Steve Blake continues to be himself. My assumption of him being traded is well-documented so I guess we’d have to wait out for Farmar to be fully healthy for this to happen, if at all. Darius Johnson-Odom just looks lost out there. Pretty sure he won’t make the roster.

    Xavier Henry is the most impressive of all the unexpected, you might say. He’s doesn’t have a speciality but his ability to get to the basket and with reasonable size, he could thrive as a shooting guard (who needs to improve his shooting) under MDA. If I had to predict, he could even steal the minutes allotted to Wesley Johnson. Overall he’s the guy with the highest upside among the ones we have, atleast from the expectations point of view.

    The second unit should be fun. This team should be fun. Lets enjoy the team.

  7. @Warren:

    I prefer

    Nash (kinda concluded hes starting regardless), Farmar, Henry, Williams, and Gasol

    I like the energy of Hill coming off the bench and less wear for the injury plagued Kaman…Henry and Williams give perimeter shooting and spacing and perimeter defense foot speed…Gasol has the block all to himself..no need to share and the team has two able guards who are great at pick and roll and can play off the ball and make defenses respect them because of their shot…I’d rather have Young off the bench where he can be the scorer regardless if Kobe is in or not because Young isn’t the first option among the starters….and Blake despite everyone wanting him to play the 2 does not have the footspeed for the athletic 2′s in the league.

  8. WWL: Nice optimism – but I must respond to Laker Fanatic
    “Return of the Twin Towers” – I have been wondering this myself. If I remember the history it goes something like this:
    1) We had twin towers during the 2008-2011 period, and this resulted in 2 rings in 3 trips to the Finals. Of course this was a dated philosophy in a dated offense : ) Phil slept on the bench for 3 years and somehow we won, in spite of the dated offense, the clogged lane, and slow team : )
    2) We then had a new iteration of the two towers in 2012. We then got a coach who was a great fit for our roster. We then found out that the two towers was a liability; we needed a stretch 4, the lane was clogged; DH was a shell of what he was; and the whole concept was flawed. Anyone who understood the modern, run n gun philosophy could clearly see this.
    3) DH walks in the summer of 13 and our problem is solved. No more crying, no more not listening to the coach, and no more twin towers. We are free to run n gun and shoot threes. At one point people on this very board were elated that Pau would go back to Center which was perfect for the MD system. So what do we do? We go out and replace DH with a bigger, slower version. Somehow though this is being sold as something different than two towers.

    However – it is what it is.

  9. I did not see or hear the game. So please take these comments with a grain of salt. They’re based entirely on last night’s (or this morning’s) statistics.

    1. I’m not surprised by Jodie Meeks. He’s the weakest link among the “starters” (if he can be called a starter). But I am disappointed in Jordan Hill. And unless Wes Johnson comes back soon–and comes back strong–I’ll be disappointed in him, too. These two players have a great deal to prove and are at crucial points in their careers. Both were lottery picks. Both were highly touted. And both have fallen short so far in their careers. Two or 3 games ago, Hill played quite well. But in Beijing, he was the ultimate invisible man–zero points, 1 rebound (one rebound for Jordan Hill in 12 minutes?), 4 TOs. Maybe he’s hampered by his hip surgery of last year. But if he doesn’t pick up his level of play, he won’t even make the rotation. Meanwhile, Johnson is impossible to assess at this point. He must get healthy. And he must play well–quickly.

    2. Ryan Kelly could surprise us. Xavier Henry already has. Henry might make the rotation. Kelly will probably watch from the bench initially. But I’d sure like to see more of him.

    3. The team was missing 3 key players in the lst game–the afore-mentioned Wes Johnson, Jordan Farmar, and Kobe. The true chemistry of this team will not be determined until they all come back as healthy as is possible.

    4. Regarding Pau and Kaman–I agree with most of the commenters. This will probably be our starting front court duo at the 4 and 5 position…at least for the time being. They play well together. And that’s a good thing. But they are obviously weak on D. David Lee saw that and exploited it. He knew that no one would block his shot. So he shot 12-16. And David Lee is not a high fly act. We can probably expect to see more of this. As Robert said earlier, it is what it is.

  10. Thats why i keep saying that we cant have Pau and Kaman at the same time in the floor for long stretches. Too slow, Hill can provide some speed at the 4, just saying, if Pau wont venture far out of the rim the other guy needs to or viseversa. Cant have both glued down low

  11. I’ve only seen about 6 quality rotation players so far (Pau, Kaman, Young, Henry, Williams and Hill). I like the 10 man rotation D’Antoni has going but am waiting for cuts to see how the roster players mesh. They way Pau and Nash are moving gingerly in preseason I think the ten man rotation is a good thing. In agreement with many that Kelly and Harris would be my top options with Landry as the odd man out. I like the offense and the way they help each other on defense. But a little more rim protection is needed.

  12. LakerFanatic, the differnce between this Kaman-Gasol twin towers and the Howard-Gasol twin towers is that Kaman, while not a superstar athlete, actually knows how to play basketball.

    it’s not that i’m a huge D’Antoni fan, but he seems to be doing a great job. the team is organized and has purpose. what they do on the floor makes sense from a basketball perspective and that’s really most of what one asks from a coach. after that, it’s the player’s job to work hard.

  13. Ken,
    My thoughts on Nash haven’t changed since I last commented on him. But to answer your specific concerns, I agree he’ll be bothered by strong ball pressure, especially when trying to change directions in isolation. However, I think he still has enough skill to get a step on his man when staying to one side and either draw a foul or create enough separation to get a shot or a pass off. I haven’t really seen him struggle with his passing — at least not any more than normal. Over his career, Nash hasn’t exactly been turnover prone but he has been a guy who tries to pass into small windows and that will lead to turnovers. He’ll take risks. That’s his m.o. and I don’t see that changing in his 18th season.

    As for his performance in this game, he was actually a bit more assertive in looking for his shot and he had a few nice plays, including a nice probing drive that led a reverse lay-in and another where he hit a nice leaning jumper when separating from his man. Nash will be 40 and with that comes physical limitations. But he’s still very crafty and possesses immense skill that allows him to utilize that craft. I think he’ll be fine and can be a good player — something along the lines of 13-15 points and 7-8 assists a game in 30 minutes. When extrapolated out to 36 minutes, those numbers would be around his averages from some of his better, non-MVP years. Which is fine production at this stage in his career.

  14. We had twin towers during the 2008-2011 period, and this resulted in 2 rings in 3 trips to the Finals

    Not exactly. The Lakers won with Odom and Pau more than with Bynum and Pau. They also had a younger version of Kobe. Again: this whole mess is not 100% about Mike D’Antoni and Jim Buss, even though I am more sympathetic to your view of them than many are.

    As to Kaman, he can play pick-n-pop and high/low and Howard really couldn’t, so offensively it will work to an extent. Defensively, however, it will not for the most part, no matter what schemes Rambis puts in. Neither Pau nor Kaman is anywhere near mobile enough to guard modern power forwards.

  15. The differnce between this Kaman-Gasol twin towers and the Howard-Gasol twin towers is that Kaman, while not a superstar athlete, actually knows how to play basketball.

    Howard is a three-time DPOY and seven-time All-Star, and Kaman is an average NBA center. He is also three years older than Howard. Even if Howard is about 75% of what he was at his peak, he will still be better than Kaman. Also, Keno and some other guys complained a lot last year about Howard’s TOs. Here are career TO/AST percentages:

    Kaman 16.6/8.0
    Howard 16.8/7.3

    So, Kaman is a little better than Howard is in these areas–but not much at all. Kaman does hit his FTs–.744 career. But he shoots few of them: 3.4/36 minutes over his career–six fewer a game than Dwight Howard.

    Kaman is a useful NBA player, and he is a quirky guy with a good sense of humor, which has an upside (the downside is jacking up his finger tobogganing the Great Wall). But he is what he is.

  16. One of our biggest remaining challenges is shoring up the interior D. So far, everyone seems to be flunking that test. Do we have any workable options left?

  17. arlie–

    Improvement on D will have to come from the perimeter, and the coaching.

  18. Thanks for the responses…everyone in here is pretty civil even when debating about our team…love this board…

    Who cares what I think. My thoughts on the “Twins” (Can I just say that for short?) are that they need to be damn near unstoppable on offense…I’m thinking a top 3-5 efficiency on offense while in the game to compensate for what they give up defensively.

    The Good Ole Days. The problems defensively are really potentially bad. Teams are going small how are we gonna matchup with that…well we can say we can punish them in the paint on offense but are we gonna play a High-Low and then just fire up 18 footers when the defense digs down because correct me if I’m wrong, but most defenses are trying to stop paint scoring and 3s…they don’t care about the long 2 (arguably the worst shot in the game). Also the long 2′s lead to long rebounds which hurts another part of our defense ….transition defense -_- . I will admit I didn’t see that last game but another game of Gasol shooting 4-10 and I think he fired up a 3. If I’m Rambis or D’Antoni, I’m mandating he does not attempt any 3′s unless its at the end of a quarter or game…I also wonder how much influence Rambis had in the Twins resurgence.

    Gary Vitti and Co. And not to be the bearer of bad news and I’m trying to be optimistic but honestly having 2 injury prone players who despite their skill should probably be coming off the bench. I’m talking about Nash and Kaman. Knock on wood —- what happens if they are injured? Then we have to put someone into a role they aren’t familiar with and honestly these guys can’t play a full season more than about 25-30 min a game anyways – bring them off the bench.

    Stop Living in the Past. Everyone knows I’ve gotten on Nash for well…I guess being old. Not his fault..I’ve wanted him to be more aggressive and take about 15 shots a game…I think he usually takes about 12 a game…bringing him off the bench lets the team have a better defender (farmar) who can still shoot pretty good and not to mention the Nash/Bryant combination has to be staggerred. Two ball dominant guards need time to do their thing. When in the game I’d personally like to see Bryant in more weakside actions but ehhh I’m not gonna go into strategy.

    Intimidation by size? Kaman needs to be replaced with Williams…we need to play the way and with the lineups that will matchup with the Heat and the OKCs especially when they put their stars at the 4. No team is afraid of us offensively with the Twins&#8482 and defensively we need that guy that can switch on pick and rolls from time to time as well as hedge hard and recover if they employ that tactic. Not to mention as well while on the subject that OKC basically built their frontcourt to stop the earlier versions of the Twins. A frontcourt of Perkins and Ilbaka basically cancels out anything our front court is doing offensively and on defense, well….

    “I told you so.” We should have signed Birdman last year….I said it…lol just saying…and Kenyon Martin…our frontcourt depth is atrocious this year.

    S/N: On Nash…maybe I’m alone in this but I was thinking that Nash would attract more people via recruiting to come here…he couldn’t even get Grant Hill to come last year….I’m gonna temper my offseason expectations for this team and enjoy this unpredictable season.

  19. To compare Chris Kaman and Dwight Howard in a vacuum is not fair or right. To compare their careers, and not much else basis for comparison other than age is about the only thing one can do.

    Visually though, when you look at both of them having played under MDA and beside Pau Gasol, the difference is glaring. Its natural, nothing is forced. The little time they’ve played, the little meaning it gave… it just works. You don’t need stats to back you up, you just need to see them play together.

    Dwight Howard is a great player. For a very strange reason, blame the injury and all, he was at his worst attitude and performance while being in LA. Maybe it has something to do with a cloud hanging over his head called Kobe’s pressure. Maybe he’s just not cut from the same cloth.

    All in all, the Dwightmare is over for LA. He left on his own terms, now he is his own problem. We are the scorned lover and we can only be better from this point on. We have something to prove but we have nothing to lose. The air in the locker room overall is just better. No one’s crying.

  20. Well, I’m a bit worried about that HORNS set we run. Having the PG setting a screen on a seven footer will take its toll. While the play works and, specially with Pau providing the assist, will lead to easy baskets I’m afraid of what may happen to Nash’s old bones if we keep running it. Even if the screen is set perfectly and on their back, a seven footer is still a big weight to pin down on that screen.

    Those of you who have screened a seven footer before know what I’m talking about. If he hits you hard without realizing you were there (and even if he does) you can feel the hit going down your spine. It may lead to injuries and should be used sparingly. I think MDA could do a small adjustment by having or SF (let’s say that’s Wesley Johnson) feeding Pau and then setting the screen while Nash (a much better 3pt shooter) provides the spacing on the 3pt line. Maybe it will be 10-15% less effective but it can help us in the long run…

  21. Thanks Darius for answer .

    rr no way compare or prefer Chris to Dwight. Best thing about him is he wants to be here and at $16 mill less I can live with quirky and a few TOs.

    Basically just trying to talk myself into driving a Ford for a year and pretending its a Austin Martin.

  22. Keno, this Ford you say is happy to be a Laker Ford rather than an unhappy Aston Martin.

  23. @Renato:

    I don’t think Nash’s screening will take a toll…I think in today’s whistle conscious NBA, people will be careful not try to run over Nash. I personally like the cross screening and flex actions by the point guard which will create mismatches or easy buckets one. Lot of those actions are from Sloan’s playbook and you definitely saw Stockton setting cross screens for post players and back screens in the flex pick and roll offense…although stockton was a little bit more stout …I welcome different actions besides the 1-4/1-5 P/R with no entries into it.

  24. After watching a few games with Gasol & Kaman I really like their chemistry on offense. I think they can work against any team, even OKC. However, they are simply not NBA quality when playing together on defense. We need something else. I agree with the people calling for a Williams & Gasol starting unit and a Hill & Kaman second unit. This may sacrifice some of Kaman’s action down low, but we simply must have at least average abilities on defense.

    Funny how Williams goes from being out of the league last year and could start for us this year. I would posit this is a plus for Mike D’Antoni’s abilities and approach. So far, so good.

  25. Dwight was a black hole on offense. Beautiful passes from Gasol to Dwight but never the other way. Sticking in Kaman just is a vast improvement on offense just because the ball will move both ways. I don’t see this line-up as the Lakers long term starting line up. Too easy to pick aprart on defense but, it is an option when other team line ups allow this.

    I’ve been predicting Kelly will work out well. I liked what I saw on video. Fluid movement on offense and if slow on defense good positioning and IQ. I had him pegged as the starting PF until the Lakers got Williams. I think both of them will have a good year barring injury.

    Jordan Hill I have been calling out as a center and not a PF. He is a great small ball center which I see he will get opportunities to play. Stop trying to make him into a PF.

    Really the only thing I didn’t calll out before training camp was the emergence of Xavier Henry. He has been a really wonderful surprise gem.

    I would encourage MDA to play Johnson-Odom a few times for 20 min. I think he really has talent and the Lakers should give him an opportunity.

    I do agree with the article there are a number of Lakers with guaranteed contracts who should be cut in favor of some of these camp invitees who are playing better. Just don’t see it happening.

  26. In other news….

    Looks like the Lakers namely Kobe Bryant now has a little extra “bulletin board” material (cliche I know)…Kobe was ranked #25 after being like #6 which I think he thought was too low then..

    Potential Positive: Kobe comes out and has his best year since his MVP year to prove everyone wrong.

    Potential Negative: He tries too hard to prove everyone wrong.

    I’m going with the positive on this one…

  27. When the Lakers signed Kaman I was a little surprised. The amount seemd a bit pricey for what I thought would be a back up center. I was even more surprised that MDA chose to start he and Pau together. The results have been better than expected in terms of offensive efficiency.

    My only concern is on the defensive end. As mentioned, a good not great, David Lee shredded the “twins” in the first game in China. What will happen when we face even better front court talent during the season?

    An even larger concern of mine is that Kaman has been injury prone these past two seasons. Given that we have a short list of quality players are we better off limiting Kaman’s minutes with the second unit or pushing him harder with the starters?

  28. I’m somewhat suprised that so many are suprised Pau won’t be playing Center again. He was never a Center. He came up as a KG. An athletic skilled and very skinny seven footer. He was able to play Center in spots (many years ago) when he could use his speed and elite athletisism to face up slower bigger centers. The last few years (because of limited athletisism) he hasnt been able to out quick Centers. So there isn’t an advantage to playing him at center and you just end up losing a lot on the defensive end without the advantages on the offensive side of the ball. That’s the reason Kaman was brought in. Although if it was me I would have started Gasol at center and tried to lose as many games as possible this year. The Kaman signing I didn’t like for that reason. Bringing in Young and Farmar made sense because they can help you win next year as role players… While not helping you win games as the teams top players this year. But Kaman might actually help us win games.

  29. This is why Kobe to me is my all time favorite player (see link below). Also, as for the #25 ranking, that is the opinion of NBA writers, doesn’t mean anything to anyone who understands basketball.

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/nba/news/20131016/kobe-bryant-lakers-si-cover-story/?sct=nba_t2_a4

  30. Funny how Williams goes from being out of the league last year and could start for us this year. I would posit this is a plus for Mike D’Antoni’s abilities ..

    Or maybe it’s just a reflection of the lack of Frontcourt talent (besides Pau and Kaman) on the roster?

    Kobe was ranked #25 ..

    Typical of ESPN Writers, who seem to always find a way to try and diminish Kobe (and for what it’s worth, the Lakers), while also propelling individuals to ‘click’ on the article for readership.

  31. @Aaron if we are relying on Kaman to win us any games the Lakers are in trouble…Gasol is generally more quicker than traditional centers which makes him at the Center spot a tough cover….just having him hovering at the free throw line and beyond takes away from his skills that he brings to the table…I know he is a great passer but he can make great passes on the block too and be just as effective….Keep Gasol at the mid to low post with pick and roll opportunities…

    Just read where you spoke about him out quicking centers…I still think he is an asset on Center and with his limited mobility laterally against todays “power forwards” we are in trouble…its bad enough the point guard is at a disadvantage in the pnr game …now putting these centers in these roles will put us at a disadvantage as well…

    Another thing to look at is firepower…people say the offense was fine and I guess statistically it was but anyone that actually saw the games…you definitely saw that it was a struggle to score and we werent able to put up shots and score from deep… a quick way to jump out in front or come back…..gotta have more three point shooters on the floor…

    One thing about uptempo coaches that I’ve seen is that they always dare to be different….Paul Westhead once said if everyone was running his system he would slow it down and be unique…..maybe this is them trying to be unique with the twins yet again…I just feel like its goint to lead to overplaying …one of them should be out there at all times unless we have a small lineup out there for a 4 minute stretch…

  32. Vasheed,

    I’m with you on DJO. I’d like to see him get a fair chance to stick around as the 15th man in hopes of prepping him for next year. He settled down a bit after his D League stretch. Farmar, as much as I like his game, has trouble staying healthy and if he has a big year, he might want to make that Laker halo money to compensate for this year’s sacrifice. Nash is going to miss his allotment of games and there’s no telling when Blake decides to impale his foot. Darius is probably out of the door with Landry.

    X Henry is a bit pyrite at this stage. He reminds me of Shannon Brown’s arrival where we hadn’t seen athleticism in Purple & Gold in so long that it initially clouded many to his limitations and predictability. I hope to see that he’s open-eyed about the weaknesses in his game and starts to make adjustments. In the preseason games thus far he moving like a single-minded bull.

    Who cares about rankings from a bunch of scrubs and rotisserie fools? It’s inane.

    Meeks is looking terrible still. Hill still isn’t moving right from that hip surgery.

    Philadelphia is sitting with googobs of cap space. I wonder who they’re going to gift players or trade exceptions to in their tankapalazoo.

  33. Kobe: The 25 rank is all due to the injury and the articles explanation says as much. If he plays the entire season at 85%+, then he should be top 10 at least. If he misses 1/4 of the season and plays at less than 80% then 25 could be right. Which is it? Oh yea – that was covered in earlier threads, and it is still a secret : )

    I believe the latest “official” range is 13 days to up to 4 months : )

  34. http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2013-10-15/sports/os-orlando-magic-dwight-howard-1016-20131015_1_magic-shootaround-dwight-howard-orlando-magic

    How DH12 responded to questions for the article pretty much sums up what many feel about him. Reference to self in third-person voice? Check. Whining about the team you played for two stops ago letting someone else wear your jersey number, even though that player is good and is wearing the jersey as a tribute to a cancer victim? Check. Claiming to be the one who “got hurt” in the whole process? Check.

  35. Tra: On the question of Shawne Williams, it is both the dearth of frontcourt talent and D’Antoni–but most importantly, it is Williams getting it together and having a skill set that fits the system.

    Aaron: I vacillate between hoping for wins and hoping for losses to snag a top pick–neither position guarantees much of anything: likely early playoff exit for a at best a mid-pack team, or getting a pick that might yield an impact player. The cap room for luring top -flight FAs model is more a chimera than a reality; more likely to lead to overpaying for B-list players than garnering an elite player given the new CBA. Houston, as has been noted elsewhere, is the best example of building assets and parlaying them into stars. That is going to be our best bet going forward.

  36. kinda wish someone would do a post about the Kobe ranking etc but I’ll post here anyways no problem…

    Just want to say the Sports Illustrated piece was well done and I wish we had more stories like that that inspire and tell a story. I’ve never read SI outside of being in a reception or waiting room….maybe I’ll give them a try…need some alternatives to ESPN…

  37. Laker Fanatic,
    To be honest, and I said this on twitter, but I simply don’t care enough to write about Kobe’s NBA Rank. I chose not to participate in the voting this year, but, understanding the criteria — voters were asked to take into account how well they thought the player would play this season (past versions of NBA Rank only went off the season just played) — I knew that Kobe would drop in ranking. There’s just too much uncertainty surrounding his recovery and return date for people to score him as high as they would otherwise.

    Ultimately, though, like I said, I just don’t care enough about this to put the time into a post. I just want Kobe to heal up and get back on the court and play well. I enjoy watching him play and cherish seeing him perform well, especially since he doesn’t have too many years left in this league.

  38. Isn’t it kind of funny that they decided to change the rules of the ranking this year specifically. Last year they ranked D. Rose 5th for his play prior to getting injured and he didn’t even get to play a single game in 2013 but hey lets go ahead and change the rules now. This is why I hate the ESPN writers, it’s like they have a hidden agenda. If they kept the same rules, than D.Rose is top 25 if lucky because he didn’t play a single game last year and Kobe you might say moves even higher than 6th, because he had a way better season in 2013 than 2012. I have nothing against D. Rose and I believe the Bulls will beat the Heat in the 2014 playoffs anyways. Its just disrespectful to Kobe the Legend. I was waiting for this, I knew they were going to change up something to rile up Kobe and Lakers fans. Kobe is in a lose lose situation, if he comes out and averages 27/6/5 again and the team doesn’t go anywhere they will write up the ball hog stuff, and if he comes out averages anywhere in the 18/20 range with 7 assists and 7 rebounds ,and the team surprises and does better than the 12th west ranking, then they will say they were right with the Kobe ranking because he couldn’t play like last year and blah blah blah. They won’t write he played team ball, they will give credit to someone else besides Kobe.
    Anyways more fuel for the Mamba

  39. Ehh…not a big deal to me…just wanted to have everything on a specific topic…no worries…

    I could careless about ESPN’s ranking…and I’m glad you mentioned the change in criteria because I believe Howard should have taken a dip given the fact that he had a back injury and at the time its hard to think how he would respond…especially for someone whos game is so reliant on athleticism. I still wonder what would have happened with Larry Johnson if he didnt have the back issues..

    I don’t have a Twitter (I know I can go and create one) but I’m really interested to see what Kobe’s reaction to this will be. Obviously he loves to defy critics but I’m interested because it makes me wonder how he is going to approach the season and also maybe even take his time coming back more than before to make sure when he comes back he is effective..

    My two cents…

  40. @tomhaberstroh: He’s 35. NBA odometer reads 50K+ mins. Ruptured Achilles 6 mo ago, hasn’t played since. Still named Top-25 most valuable for 13/14. Amazing.

  41. Aaron out here trolling. Hahaha.

  42. It will be interesting to see if the Lakers make any adjustments for the next game against Golden State. After having been torched by David Lee, they should make certain that does not happen again. If it does, that would not be a good sign. I’d like to see them hold Lee to, say, 18 or less.

    This next game should be a good litmus test to see if the Lakers’ bigs (viz., Kaman and Gasol, perhaps Jordan Hill, too) can play at least some semblance of defense.

  43. Darius Johnson-Odom fans,

    Sorry to tell you this–but DJO just got cut by the Lakers. Here’s the link: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/lakers-waive-g-johnson-odom-023622766–nba.html

  44. Didn’t show anything to warrant a roster spot. Too small for anything but the point, lacks the handles for the position. Next camp body to be escorted back to the D league is Landry. Meeks’ guaranteed deal will keep him on the roster, hopefully at the end of the bench.

  45. mindcrime: Thanks for supplying the link. It’s pretty funny; does DH think his number should be retired because of “… all that they did as a team …” ?

    Like going to the Finals and getting their heads handed to them by Kobe and Company … ?

  46. I know we are supposed to be over Dwight. I know we would have been a better team with Dwight. But stuff like Retired Numbergate just makes you realize that Dwight is one of those guys who is never, ever gonna get it. He spent two years under the microscope and didn’t learn a single thing; his recent remarks may be his stupidest yet. If whoever is advising him ever gets into politics, I’d put the wait for WWIII inside of 24 hours.

    Even if it means a tougher road this year and in the near future, and even if his leaving was due at least in part to Buss incompetence, I’m glad he took his clown act elsewhere.

  47. Dwight was clearly, clearly a difference maker on defense, but he was a chemistry nightmare and he certainly didn’t deserve any #1 ranking on the offensive side of the ball. Regardless his talents, this is not the kind of player you would choose to build a franchise around, certainly not a dominant franchise like the Lakers.

    I think that is the only lesson we Laker fans should take away from the Dwight Howard year.

  48. I think that is the only lesson we Laker fans should take away from the Dwight Howard year.

    We will see. The lessons of Howard’s time here will be learned by what happens on the floor, and in free-agent recruitment, not in comment sections on fan sites. The main lesson may end up being that losing star players usually sets an organization back for several years to come.

    Or maybe Aaron is right. We will start getting our first clues as to what the answers will be on 10/29.

  49. Maybe we can put together a collection and send Aaron to Miami. I’m in for. $100.

  50. I’m with Darius on the whole NBA rank thing. Ditto on the whole MJ/Lebron/Kobe clutch “debate.” Last season was so draining emotionally for me as a fan that it’s taken me quite some time to really get back into the swing of all things Laker, but after all the drama last season, I’m just excited to see the team out on the court, whether good or bad.

  51. It’s not exactly a newsflash that LBJ is superlative in the clutch.

    And, Henry Abbott has practically made a career out of “proving” that Kobe isn’t all that by comparison.

    ** YAWN **

  52. LakerFanatic,

    Here’s one of the best Sports Illustrated stories I’ve seen in the past year (link below)–by Jack McCallum, on Gregg Popovich. It’s truly a fascinating look at what makes this complicated man tick.

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1207572/index.htm

  53. Thanks for the link Jay A.

  54. Being Clutch isn’t simply a field goal percentage thing. A lot of it has to do with a willingness to want to take that shot. No matter how many stats are thrown out, Kobe is the most clutch player I have seen with my 2 eyes. If form is correct and shot is taken, it becomes a 50/50 proposition as to whether it goes in or not. Go watch the Toronto game last year and tell me how many players could do what Kobe did there. Even the GSW game where he blew out his Achilles, Kobe brought the team back with Clutch shot after clutch shot. There is a reason why when a group pf Lebron peers were polled, none wanted him to take the last shot. Its not because they think he cant make it, they don’t just believe he wants that shot every time unlike Kobe and MJ. This is the same reason I laugh when people complain about Kobe’s shot selection. If Kobe has practiced a shot 1000 times, I am comfortable with him taking it. As Tex Winter always said, “a bad shot for others isn’t necessarily a bad shot for Kobe”.

  55. Thanks for the Popovich article…I didn’t find it as fulfilling as I thought I would…one thing I’m curious about is how he really transitioned from the defense only Pop to the wide open pop…its funny cause the 2007 Pistons Spurs teams were basically mirror images of each other (Yawnfest) now you look at it and they are the top offensive team. Same thing with Belicheck (maybe not this year so much) known as a defensive mastermind and then he becomes a great offensive mind.

  56. The stats they use to measure clutch also dont take into account other shots that bring you into the game – they are only looking at last second shots for their stats but just look at the Toronto game last year where kobe had to hit 3 consecutive 3s to win or tie the game – every single one of those shots are clutch but they don’t get counted the way they measure the statistic.

  57. If you only look at statistics you don’t know what you are talking about. If we ever reach the point where statistics tell you everything about the game, that game will cease to be interesting and people will stop watching.

  58. “…every single one of those shots are clutch but they don’t get counted the way they measure the statistic.”
    —-
    This is exactly why I’m still lukewarm on this whole stats movement in basketball. Of course, I think analyzing tendencies in anything is useful. The problem is journalists have taken to “proving” things with imperfect measures and tools. Now people are out to “prove” that Jordan was more clutch than Kobe, or Kobe more so than LeBron. Or in Abbott case, that LeBron, Dirk, and everyone else are more clutch than Kobe.

    The problem is “clutch” is an arbitrary concept. Yes, we know it when we see it. But as Shaun showed it is left up to interpretation. One of the worse things to witness is someone trying to speak concretely on something that is inherently arbitrary. Many of these basketball “stat gurus” are making careers out of it.

  59. I tend to stay away from those “whose more clutch” discussions unless it’s late and everyone has had a few drinks and you’re just talking about all things basketball.
    For me, the most “clutch” shot Kobe has ever made and is, and will always be, my image of him is not all those off-balance, last second game-winning makes. Not. Even. Close.
    It’s the image of him walking -Walking! when anyone else would have been carried off the court- to the free throw line and making those 2 free throws against GSW after he completely tore his achilles.
    That is the definition of Clutch and says everything you need to know about the amazing Kobe Bryant.