Trend Watching

Darius Soriano —  November 20, 2013

In FB&G’s latest post in partnership with Draftstreet, we look at recent trends from Lakers’ players. Who’s doing well, who’s not, and some other general forecasting on the team. This Friday, Draftstreet is having another free-roll game that you can sign up for here. Just like last time, the game is free and offers cash prizes to the top finishers. So, again, sign up and see how good a team you can put together and possibly win some cash in the process.

On the rise
*I cannot think of a player with faster rising stock on this team than Jordan Hill. On the season Hill is averaging 10.4 points and 8.4 rebounds, but in the last 4 games as a starter those numbers jump to 18.8 points and 12 rebounds (4 offensive) in nearly 31 minute a night. Add to those numbers Hill’s nearly 2 blocks a game and the fact that he’s shown a willingness to kick the ball out to shooters after catching the ball on a dive out of the P&R, and Hill really is playing a complete game. There really isn’t anything negative to say about him at this point. If Hill can stay healthy and stay out of foul trouble while playing the full hustle style he’s made his name on and I see no reason why Hill can’t continue to be a double-double machine with some 20 point nights mixed in against opponents who don’t have strong team defenses.

*The other Laker who has really elevated his game lately is Steve Blake. We’ve touched on this topic already, so I won’t go into a lot of detail. But it bears repeating that after taking over for the injured Steve Nash as the starting PG, Blake has been racking up the assists and shooting a respectable percentage from the floor. On his best nights, Blake is also good for a double-double and, as long as he’s a primary ball handler, will have many opportunities to put up big assist numbers running the P&R in the half court and by finding teammates running the lane when the team gets out and runs.

Holding Steady
*The most consistent Laker all season has been…Jodie Meeks? If you’d have told me before the season this would be the case, I wouldn’t have believed you. But here Meeks is, leading the team in scoring and shooting insane percentages from the field nearly every night. On the season he’s hitting nearly 53% of his shots overall, including a pretty ridiculous 49.2% from behind the arc on 5 attempts per game. Meeks isn’t a huge rebounding or assist threat, but when he’s scoring as efficiently and effectively as he is this season, that really doesn’t matter.

The area I’ve probably been impressed most by Meeks is in his development as an off the dribble scorer both in the half and open court. Just last season Meeks struggled mightily when he had to put the ball on the floor to create his own shot at the rim, but this season he’s taking a giant leap forward in this area. It’s to the point that when defenders close out hard on him, he can put the ball on the floor and then read whether the D is going to step up or not and then make the correct play by either pulling up for the mid-range jumper or getting all the way to the rim. There are still plays where he loses his handle and commits a turnover, but those occur with less frequency this season and it shows in his overall effectiveness as a scorer.

Sliding down
*This doesn’t have as much to do with his play — though he could be a bit more consistent — but more with the fact that Xavier Henry’s role may be changing pretty soon. Henry is still capable of having big nights as evidenced by 15 point night on 6-8 shooting against the Pelicans just a little over a week ago. But, sooner or later (and likely sooner), Henry is going to see a dip in his minutes and a shift in his role with Kobe Bryant’s return on the horizon. With Wesley Johnson moving almost exclusively to the SF spot and Nick Young showing he’s more comfortable as a scorer off the bench, Henry is the most probable choice to be the guy who sees his minutes diminish and role altered when Kobe grabs his normal spot as the team’s starting shooting guard. And with Kobe now cleared to practice fully without restrictions, the odds are that Henry’s time as a regular rotation player will soon come to an end. This doesn’t mean that Henry will be completely eliminated from the rotation, but unlike Shawne Williams (who also saw his minutes dip after Jordan Hill emerged), there’s just not a natural place to play Henry or in a lineup that makes sense with Kobe, Young, and Johnson solidified into their roles.

Darius Soriano

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35 responses to Trend Watching

  1. Ok I sent my team in so let’s see if I am dumb or dumber.

  2. Kobe at shooting guard?
    Any chance he’ll be slotted at 3, given our 2-heavy personnel and his likely slower self?

  3. Carryover from the other thread and essentially hi-jacking this thread. I will post the same on the previous.

    Carmelo Anthony has proven he cannot carry a team alone.
    Carmelo Anthony has proven he can be a black hole and slack a bit on defense.
    Carmelo Anthony is not a proven crunch-time shot-maker.
    Carmelo Anthony is 30 and is not getting any younger.
    Carmelo Anthony takes voluminous shots.

    For all the same reasons, he needs Kobe. Not the 30-yo Kobe, but the 35-yo Kobe. Kobe cannot pass the torch to someone who doesn’t want it. Kobe will not give the torch to Andrew Bynum because he knows his attitude. Kobe did not pass the torch to Dwight because he knows he is worse.

    Carmelo commands Kobe’s respect, atleast on offense. And if you built your team right, this is exactly how you do it. Carmelo will thrive in a team that has a playmaking scorer like Kobe. Carmelo will have his but lit up playing beside Mr. Tough Love Kobe if he is willing to learn.

    Carmelo is hungry for his ring. Kobe seeks immortality. There is no better story, and ending than 2 unlikely pairing coming together and sacrificing for one another. For Melo, the Knicks are a dead end. A great story that did not pan out. His last shot is playing beside Kobe.

    We are all old enough to witness how David Robinson passed the torch. But this is also because Tim Duncan, despite a very laid back demeanor took it. And D-Rob saw the next great Spur after him.

    Carmelo can defer to Kobe. Kobe can defer to Carmelo. I make my case as such that we could see the Lakers make this reality come true. Have you seen these 2 in all-star games and in the olympics? The chemistry between Kobe and Melo is so good I dare say their personalities fit like a glove better than Kobe and Lebron or Melo and Lebron.

    Egos are left on the door. Kobe will have no problem deferring the load to Melo. Melo will have no shame deferring to an all-time great like Kobe.

    It bears repeating: Carmelo seeks redemption… Kobe seeks immortality. They need each other.

  4. Never thought I would see this day, commercial during the Warriors game last night:

    This Friday, see the Warriors play Jordan Hill and the Lakers

  5. This Friday, see the Warriors play Jordan Hill and the Lakers

    Speaks volumes about Pau’s lackluster season up ’til this point.

  6. 91601guy & Tra,
    Reminds me of the early eighties when `Mick Jagger & The Rolling Stones´ started to pop up on some arena marquees announcing the gigs. Keith put an end to that right quick! I´m guessing Mamba´ll have the same effect! 😉
    Still, & I´m sure you fellas agree, it´s good to see J-Hill get his props. (That isn´t to say that I didn´t get the gist of your posts.)
    from your last post:
    thanks a bunch dude! You´re a tender-hearted metal head!
    “Crazy, but that´s how it goes…´´ ah, what a refrain

  7. @WWL Melo …. uh No.

    @Fern Not Kobe hater but Lakers advocate. Arguments about what Kobe, Nash and Gasol did previously aren’t completely relevant going forward. Older players have injuries and other issues resulting in diminished performance.

    Kobe has never lead Lakers to championship single handed and without a major post presence. First 3 rings with Shaq and last 2 with Bynum and Gasol. Lakers didn’t beat Boston until Bynum was healthy.

    Kobe isn’t Magic Johnson or Jerry West. He is a self centered ego maniac who was one of the best players in history. Kobe’s stupid comment about trading Andrew Bynum for Jason Kidd, was classic Kobe narcissism. How many championships would Lakers have won if that dumb trade had been made?

    Let me be clear. Lakers win not win another championship with Kobe as lead dog.
    Lakers may win games, even make the playoffs, but they will not win a championship (Lakers objective) unless Kobe steps back.

    My perspective is as Lakers advocate seeking to win championship ASAP.

    Prefer Lakers to win championship than having Kobe jacking up shots to become all time scoring leader. Kobe’s standing in history matters not to me. What counts is Lakers winning future championships, and passing Boston for the most all time.

  8. Still, & I´m sure you fellas agree, it´s good to see J-Hill get his props.

    True Indeed.

  9. Melo was a superstar player. He was a top four player on the USMNT. He was perfect when used as a spot up shooter and slasher off the ball. He wasn’t good enough when he was forced to creat offense for himself and others. He couldn’t draw a consistant double team and get his teammates shots. He couldn’t generate good looks for himself (hence his average FG percentage). He was though a perfect number two around a shit creator. But Melo is not the same player anymore. Guys that don’t take care of their body’s age early. This year he has lost a step. His numbers are very average.

  10. Regarding Meeks, I thought last year was able to drive to the basket with a good amount of consistency. The only problem was that he could never finish the play. This was why everyone cringed when he started his dribble, because it always ended in a turn-over.

  11. I also think Carmelo will fit real well alongside Kobe. We will see an efficient Melo for the first time. He can be the stretch 4 D’Antoni wants. And he is going to be locked in with Kobe around and in LA.

  12. All4. Have you watched him play defense ? A starting team of Kobe at 36 and Anthony with any amount of Nash would be the single worst defensive team since the Washington Genersls!

  13. Treylake,

    Naw, you’re a Hater. One thing that type always enagages in is bias by omission. As just one example from your post, Magic Johnson never won without either peak Kareem or peak Worthy, and Jerry West didn’t win until the Lakers got Chamberlain.

    And, of course we have no idea what would have happened if the Lakers had made the Bynum/Kidd trade. Kidd was a fine player until his last couple of years in the league, and was very durable, playing a role on Dallas’ 2011 title team. It is possible that a Kidd/Bryant/Gasol/Odom core would have been great.

    It’s fine if you don’t like Kobe; not all Lakers fans do. But emotions and analysis don’t mix well.

  14. @Aaron: I hope you meant to say “shot creator”!

  15. Here is a little bit a Lakers history.
    On this date in 1965, the late Chick Hearn began his streak of broadcasting 3,338 consecutive.

  16. Treylake, I don’t think you know what your are watching when you watch basketball. Kobe never lead the Lakers to a championship alone? What does that mean? Did Magic? Did West? Did Kareem? Did Shaq? Did Wilt? Has anyone??? Please stop stating the obvious in a condescending manner. Andrew Bynum wasn’t key to anything. The more Bynum emerged the worse LA became. And its no surprise he is headed nowhere in his career. BTW, Jason Kidd was a top 5 PG in the League when Kobe demanded that trade. Pau didn’t win a single playoff game before coming to LA and you want to label him a savior?? How about Pau playing with the greatness that is Kobe Bryant is what allowed Pau blossom in the player he became in LA?? I don’t care if Kobe is an ego maniac as you claim, the man brought 5 championships to LA. He is still Elite and with the right personnel he can still lead us to a Championship.

  17. Treylake: That is a strong statement about Kobe. I am of course a huge advocate of Kobe. Before I respond to your statement, let me say that you have every right to question Kobe, especially since you state that your desired intentions are Laker championships. That said – a few points:
    1) “Older Players….Diminished Performance”: This can certainly be applied to Pau and Nash as you point out, but not yet to Kobe. KB had an excellent year last year and was a well deserved starting All NBA and Top 5 MVP candidate. Let’s see how he comes back from injury, but based on last year – there was very little diminished performance (defense yes – but overall 2013 probably ranked towards the top half of Kobe’s overall 17 years – amazing as that is).
    2) “He is a self centered ego maniac ” Some would take exception to this, but I can agree partially. Since entering the league – KB has had one objective and that is to be the best ever. He wants to be better than MJ, who also was a trash talking, “self centered ego maniac”. Neither of these guys had much in common with Magic – basketball personality wise. I have Kobe at #3 all time by the way – behind MJ and KAJ. He is not satisfied with that.
    3) “Kobe has never lead Lakers to championship single handed” And neither has anyone else in the history of the league. This is a statement that was made about KB during the Shaq era. It does not apply anymore. Shaq was a true superstar and so the 2000-2002 Lakers had a duo. Not so in 2009-2010. Yes – Pau was there – but that is not the same. Jordan never won without Pippen either so what does that mean? The 2009-2010 teams were Kobe’s. Pau will make HOF, but only due to international added. If it were strictly NBA Hall, those 2009-2010 teams would be the only modern team to repeat with only one HOF and that was Kobe. So to say the “hasn’t won alone” statement is a dated statement. Now if you want to say that Kobe has not won without PJ and neither has Jordan – now you might be on to something (had to add that for MannyP).
    4) Jerry West? No Kobe isn’t him either. Thankfully. KB is 5-2 in the Finals, Jerry was 1-8 Jerry played with Elgin, Wilt, and Gail. Talk about a supporting cast – that’s almost a whole starting 5 on the wall !! We have one ring from that era. Now – because I love Jerry West – I will add that he is the best executive of all time, the logo, and one of the greatest of all time – but Kobe is really a better – Mr. Clutch.
    5) “Lakers will not win another championship with Kobe as lead dog” This is not a very bold prediction : ) Kobe has 2-3 (maybe 4 in my dreams) years left? How about – are the Lakers going to sniff the Finals in that period – with or without Kobe? Yes – we need to add some serious talent – but that is not a Kobe issue. Let’s see what we do in free agency and what they do with KB’s contract. If we have opportunity to get FAs and KB’s contract is in the way – we can re-visit. Co-existing with another superstar – I see no issue – if we can get that superstar. Taking a backseat to a 3rd team All NBA guy. Not going to happen – you are correct. And I would not want it to.
    6) “Prefer Lakers to win championship than having Kobe jacking up shots” Me too !! Show me how we can do that – without focusing on Kobe – because he has shown for 17 years – he is part of the solution – not part of the problem. And while I prefer championships as you state – watching Kobe for a few more years – and eclipsing a few more milestones – would be a decent consolation prize (in fact I predicted having to enjoy exactly that in some of my FO tirades). Winning rings is the best, but someone does it every year. Watching Kobe launch double teamed, turnaround, fade away, 25 footers – now that is something to behold.
    7) ” Kobe as lead dog” He is not the lead dog. This implies he is leashed and bridled and serves the one driving the sled. Kobe is none of those. He is unleashed. He is not the lead dog. He is the Alpha Male. And when he comes back I am looking forward to watching him run down the gazelle, and then he will of course – Eat First !

  18. JeffT: I believe that, in this case, both references would be correct;) ….. OTFLMAO!!

  19. Aaron, I’m a sh*t creator. Melo would be great alongside me. He’d probably take my creation and toss it at the fan.

  20. Oh man… My iPhone’s auto correct is dirty.

  21. Kobe cant get along with any other “star” Basketball player……He has already proven that he will not be a pass first player…He does it for a few games..then resorts right back to Kobe being Kobe….If Kobe has the right mind set he would become the best 6th men in the league and play 3 or 4 more years…

  22. Treylake im stun and how you twist facts to your own convenience.So Bynum was healthy when they beat Boston? LMAO anyone on this board knows he could barely walk during those Finals and everybody commended him for gutting it out. Kobe was the MVP of that series but it could arguably could had gone to Gasol, everything you spout here is a redux of what we heard before from every Kobe hater out there, how many chips would Shaq or Pau had won without him? When Shaq was traded he won bc he did for Wade what he refused to do for Kobe which was taking a lesser role because Kobe was on the path to become the best player in the game and Wade on hus prime could not hold Kobe’s jockstrap. When Kobe wanted to trade Bynum for Kidd it made sense at the time to me. So Kobe and his 5 championships are not good enough for you? I let you in a little secret, the Lakers cant win every year and i been a fan since the beggining of the Magic era and the Lakers havent been contenders every year. The Lakers will return to being a contender but not ASAP like you think, i went thru droughts of 12 and 7 years and now 3 years without my team winning a championship and even with Shaq and Kobe on board it took a while, so if you want a ready made contender go and root for the Heat. Stop pretending your a Laker fan

  23. And Warren what was Tim Duncan age whe Robinson passed the torch again? Yeah the torch passed to a declining 30 yeard old.

  24. Fern….just cause someone isnt a Kobe fan doenst mean that he/she is not a Laker fan…..There is a reason why there is so many Kobe haters and many like myself are Laker fans… The worst argument to make when someone has a different opinion is to tell them to root for another team….

  25. Anger management there Fern. These are opinions if everyone agreed this site would have few posters.


  26. Dont know if my response to Trey is stuck in mod or Darius didn’t put it up.

    In any case, the main point WRT to what Trey said IMO is that Magic never won with peak Kareem or peak Worthy and as Robert notes, West never won without Wilt. Nobody wins a title alone.

    The facts of Kobe’s career are what they are.

  27. Fern: My post came out of moderation. Take a look – you may enjoy it.
    Differing Opinions: Yes – as Ken points out – the difference is what makes discussion good.
    Gene: “why there is so many Kobe haters and many like myself” Like I said – everyone is entitled to an opinion. But wow. That seems to imply : )

  28. Treylake,
    If you still continue to look at Kobe on that light, even despite everything that has been said and done, I can’t help you. Kobe’s history, performance and soon-to-be legacy will not need reminding. I will leave it at that.

    Declining will be a very relative term. I don’t think its possible to “grow” your game after the age of 27 especially when this game is already very polished. Give me a better guy than Carmelo, that will be available next summer who’s game is more polished and is still growing? Yeah asking for the world are we. Lebron James, but does he fit in with Kobe at all? Will their egos fit in one city at all? Like I said, the motivations have to match. Lebron seeks greatness at a different level. He’s proven he can do it elsewhere, he doesn’t need to be in LA to do more. If anything, he can return to his hometown and be the prodigal son that came back after his journey to save the City.

    Carmelo has not won anything. He has had his own team since owning the Nuggets for many years and now for 3 years with the Knicks. Its getting quite old. Time is running out for him. He knows he needs to win one soon or be forgotten. His last best shot is playing with a 35/36yo Kobe Bryant who would gladly defer the daily load to him. This is one guy he would have no shame allowing to score more than him, simply because Melo’s offensive game is so polished that it commands Kobe’s respect.

    For what its all worth, the discussion will never end until something happens.

  29. Kobe hasn’t touched the hardwood as of yet this season and already, within the FB&G Community, he’s got ’em turned up .. Lol

  30. @Robert-Hear, hear!!!!! That is all.

  31. fern and robert provide the one, two punch; aaron comes in with the right uppercut; chearn the cut man; warren the trainer all in kobe’s corner. i say it’s a unanimous decision. it’s friday night, lights out for all kobe haters and fringe believers. let’s get ready to ruuuumble.

    Go lakers

  32. Warren , who say anything about next summer? I dont find next summer FA class especially enticing, like i said a thousand times, we dont need to go on a mass spending spree next summer. If Melo wants to come to the Lakers in a 2 year deal making a lot less than 20 million thats fine with me, you dont past the torch to a 30 y/o. And about Treylake is not the Kobe hatin is the list of half truths and made up stuff to sustain an argument which
    is absurd at best. And i say it again if you think championships need to come ASAP, you havent been a fan long enough or never have been. Part of the fun of all this is the process and i dont think the Lakers will be contending or near contending in at least 2 or 3 years which is an eternity by Laker standards.

  33. Chick Hearn lives!

    “Sh*t creator.” That was one of my favorite Aaron posts of all time. Though I must give him props for being right about Nash and Howard. I hope LBJ comes, Aaron!

    Dont know about Melo. Maybe he’ll be good with Kobe. But we must look at the future. What will Melo look like when Kobe retires? I dont know know if I like what I see when I imagine that.

  34. Rubenowski, even if it means just a single championship in 5 years, I’d pay Melo 30 million the last year of his contract.

  35. WWL: One championship in 5 years? That is below our historical average : ) That said – I will sign that deal as well knowing we get one title – with the stipulation that we must get to the finals in the first 4 years (trying to avoid that 8 year record). Second issue: Are you envisioning a post D’Antoni environment that Melo is signed into? Or are you expecting Melo and MD to pretend nothing ever happened and let bygones be bygones. I’m thinking those feelings are too deep and the two have irreconcilable differences. Have we set a precedent by not bowing to DH’s wishes? So would there not be a similar issue with Carmelo?