Week At A Glance

Andre Khatchaturian —  January 25, 2014

Despite missing a chunk of the lineup and traveling across the entire Eastern seaboard in a week, the Los Angeles Lakers have to be extremely happy with how their Grammy road trip ended no matter what happens tomorrow afternoon in New York.

Think about it. At one point this week, the Lakers couldn’t do five-on-five drills during practice because only nine guys were healthy enough to practice. They had two sets of road back-to-backs. They’re giving regular minutes to two D-league players (Manny Harris and Kendall Marshall) and head coach Mike D’Antoni still refuses to give big boy minutes to his most efficient player, Jordan Hill.

After beating the Toronto Raptors, the Lakers lost a heartbreaker in overtime against the Chicago Bulls and went toe-to-toe against back-to-back champion Miami before running out of gas in Orlando. The Lakers have to be tired.

Of course, just saying giving the team an A for effort isn’t going to cut it. There are still several legitimate issues that could be taken care of — even with the depleted roster.

Let’s start with Jordan Hill’s playing time. The power forward has the third highest offensive rebound rate in the entire league yet he’s still only averaging 19.8 minutes per game. Heck, Shawne Williams who is no longer on the team still has a higher MPG than Hill.

Hill also has the highest PER on the Lakers – hovering over the 19 mark. This essentially means he’s the most efficient player on the Lakers, but he receives laughable playing time.

The reason why this is frustrating to see from afar is because the Lakers are the worst rebounding team in the league. When one looks at the basic stats, they see the Lakers rank 20th in rebounding – averaging 42.6 boards per game. However, the advanced stats tell the real story. The Lakers are dead last in rebounding percentage and grab only 46.9 percent of all rebounding opportunities.

This is how Tobias Harris gets 20 rebounds in a game and the Miami Heat, who are also an awful team on the glass, out-rebound the Lakers, 48-35.

When a team doesn’t get defensive rebounds, they give their opponent more chances to score. On the flip side, if they do get offensive rebounds, they get more opportunities to score. It’s a simple concept that shows how valuable rebounding is and one would think that if a team had the third best offensive rebounder in the game, he’d get more action.

Hill, however, got fewer minutes than Manny Harris last night.

The numbers show that Hill doesn’t get tired when he plays a lot. He’s played four games where he’s logged over 30 minutes and he averaged 12 rebounds. Also, in back-to-back situations he averages two more rebounds per game than he does after a day of rest. This isn’t to say that he should average 40 minutes per night, but perhaps a little bit more than the peanut minutes he’s getting right now would help the Lakers on the glass.

Other than this, every excuse regarding injuries is valid for the Lakers. They have been ravaged by the injury bug all season long and as a result, have been forced to play inexperienced players. Because of this, they have struggled mightily on defense. The Lakers haven’t held an opponent to fewer than 100 points in 11 games.

That said, they have to be happy with the effort and the surprising play of Kendall Marshall. Last night against Orlando, he dished out 14 assists and only had one turnover. He also added 19 points. Those are numbers elite point guards like Chris Paul or Rajon Rondo put up on a regular basis. Marshall still has a lot to learn — his defense is suspect and he turns the ball over too much — but if this continues, then Marshall may have locked up a spot for himself on the roster for the foreseeable future.

The Lakers finish up their Grammy trip against the Knicks tomorrow afternoon on ABC. They won’t have a welcome return home, though, as they take on one of the league’s best teams in the Indiana Pacers. The Lakers will close out the week at home against the Bobcats.

Andre Khatchaturian


to Week At A Glance

  1. Sorry Andre, I disagree. I can’t be happy w/ how the trip went or how at least one Laker is thinking…it may be a factor in explaining the Lakers’ losing season.

    “We had a lot of let-ups,” Nick Young said. “We don’t bring the energy all the time. You could say we look at their records. We look at the team we’re playing and underestimate them.”

    “We got to play everybody like we’re playing against the Heat, like we’re playing against the top teams. You can’t just look at teams’ records and come in and think it’s going to be a cakewalk….It’s tough losing to teams where we feel we’re better than,” Young said.

    Is it just me? How can this kid underestimate any other team? This Laker team is…much too challenged to overlook anyone. Scary thought, he may not be the only Laker thinking like that 🙁


  2. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1936358-carmelo-anthony-reportedly-prefers-chicago-bulls-over-la-lakers-in-free-agency

    Why would Anthony come to a rebuilding team with a. 35 year old Kobe and a coach he already had issues with ? Rose, Tibbs or Kobe, MD now that’s a no brainier!


  3. Great point. I was willing to overlook the Lakers’ current woes due to so many players being injured but I just don’t understand Mike D’Antoni’s coaching logic. He seems so stubborn about his “style” that he cannot seem to adjust to the current roster. The Lakers could have won some of the last few games with better defensive players on the floor. I have a feeling that he plays out this season and will be gone.


  4. From the last post:
    Regarding Melo. I don’t necessarily believe that we should pay him max dollars for 4 years unless all we plan on doing is sitting on the cap space. Melo would be exciting to watch and would put butts in the seats alongside Kobe for the next couple seasons.

    We currently have the 6th worse record in the league…pick as high as we can and pick up the best available FA that will come our way. Then go from there.

    I claim that if MDA has a historically bad season for the Lakers, then ownership might ship him out for someone else. Perhaps Melo would change his mind about his Chicago preference if MDA weren’t here?


  5. Andre Khatchaturian January 25, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    @ bigcitysid

    Nick is on the team. He’s just saying the right things, as he should. The players shouldn’t make excuses even if they can.


  6. I claim that if MDA has a historically bad season for the Lakers

    The worst record the team has had in LA is 30-52 in 1974-75. That was the team post-West and Chamberlain and pre-Kareem. The Lakers need to go 15-23 the rest of the way to avoid tying that mark.


  7. As far as Anthony, generally speaking when big-time FAs change teams/pick new team, they go where they can win. There are exceptions–Anthony and Williams. But James, Bosh, Howard, and Paul all moved to/stayed with teams that they thought could win. The caveat with the Bulls is a big one–Rose. But Anthony fits well with Butler/Noah/Gibson/Mirotic…and if Rose can play…


  8. Andre,

    Thank you for your comments. I couldn’t agree more. Jordan Hill has been criminally underutilized this year (which says nothing of how Chris Kaman has been relegated to the scrap heap).

    In fact, D’Anotni’s logic astounds me. Take last night’s game for example. In 30:02, Ryan Kelly had 3 rebounds. Three. That’s one rebound every 10 minutes. In 10:44, Robert Sacre had zero rebounds (to go with zero points and zero assists). Now, purely hypothetically, let’s insert Jordan Hill and Chris Kaman into those minutes.

    Jordan Hill had 10 rebounds in only 19:39 last night, better than one rebound every TWO minutes (as opposed to Kelly’s one rebound every 10 minutes). So, if Jordan Hill had played, say, another 10 minutes, let’s say that he would have grabbed 5 more rebounds. (It might have been more or less but let’s stick with 5.) If Kaman had played Sacre’s minutes, let’s say that he would have grabbed 4. Kelly’s total would probably have gone down to one with fewer minutes. Therefore, the Lakers would have had not 40 rebounds but 47. Orlando would have had 7 fewer boards or 44. The Lakers, then, would have won the rebounding battle and–very possibly–the game.

    It does not take a mathematical genius to figure out, then, that the Lakers are losing games and certainly losing rebounding battles, almost every night, unnecessarily.

    Several games ago, furthermore, Kelly played 37 minutes, Jordan Hill played 11, and Kaman played zero. Am I the only one who feels that this is out-of-balance?

    There is enough rebounding strength on this team for our rebounding numbers to be considerably better. Under no circumstances should the Lakers be the worst rebounding team in the league. But this will probably continue for the rest of the season. And that’s a shame. Because it need not be this way.


  9. KenOak: “I claim that if MDA has a historically bad season for the Lakers” Well MD is already arguably the 2nd most losing coach in Laker history behind Randy Pfund. He is currently 4 games under 500 and Pfund was 14 games under. (nobody who coached 40 games or more comes close).
    DH discussion: Last thread. So yes the DH acquisition for Bynum was a phenomenal move. Subsequently losing him was horrendous. So – I was on the 18th tee and hit the drive of my life. Unfortunately , my next shot went out of bounds : ) I would not use the drive as “evidence” that I was a good golfer. The drive also can’t be used as evidence you are a bad one. Looking at the entire hole? I think I know where that evidence would be better used : )
    Mid/bigcity: So yea – we can’t rebound, turn the ball over, have one of the worst defenses in the league, and now we are not ready for games and under-estimate people. Sounds like a great foundation for the future.
    rr: Liked your post. Yea – not only do I use the smileys, but I also like to say “it is what it is”. I may change that now to “we are who we are”.


  10. Andre, great post.
    I’m an old school hoops guy (not by choice – I’m just old) so I feel vindicated by the stats quoted here: Lakers are dead last in team rebounding %, Hill is the 3rd best OR in the league, and he has the team’s highest PER.
    These stats validate what my eyes have been telling me, that Hill’s lack of minutes reflect a coaching philosophy and myopia that can perhaps best be classified as bizarre.
    And as egregious as Hill’s misuse is, it pales in comparison to the sickening Kaman tragedy still unfolding.
    FBG frowns on redundant posts so I’ll just state once more for the record that IMO, MDA is a train wreck so catastrophic that every day he remains Laker coach deepens my alarm at the state of the FO.
    It’s not enough to point to the relative successes of the Kendall Marshalls and Jeremy Lins of the world when they come at the expense of an historically appalling win-loss record.
    FO’s plan when obtaining Kaman was to replace Howard, and when he signed here for $3 mil he was taking a pay cut to play for a storied organization that has inexplicably betrayed him.
    If Nash, Blake, Farmar and Hill were healthy, of course we’d have a better win-loss record.
    But these injuries don’t change the fact that if you’re coaching an NBA team you should field the best team available to you, and be held accountable for the defensive identity of the roster.
    Overlooked by the hand-wringing public excusing the team’s poor play because of injury is the simple fact that playing defense doesn’t require TALENT nearly as much as it requires EFFORT.
    This is why players like Hill, if any other qualified coach were at the helm, would be getting starter’s minutes and Kaman wouldn’t be languishing on the pine like a leper.
    I don’t mean to be cynical, but it’s fairly easy to see why “players haven’t quit on him (Dantoni).”
    The players, especially the guards, haven’t quit on Dantoni because they’re given free reign to jack up 3s all day and absolutely aren’t being held accountable for playing defense – hence the glaring lack of improvement in this area as this season has progressed. The players’ stats are inflated; they know they will reap the benefits of bigger contracts after their tenure here so of course they’re delighted to run down court and shoot as soon as they see daylight.
    As for Kurt Rambis, he seems like a great guy but apparently his record in Minnesota wasn’t a fluke.

    I’m no expert.
    But I played high school ball, continued to play in rec leagues for many years afterward, and coached four of my sons for years in the NJB system, two of whom went on to play college ball.

    Simply put, this coach doesn’t coach the fundamentals of the game of basketball.
    He was a Chauncey Gardner (obscure film reference- “Being There” – Peter Sellers – great flick, check it out) in Phoenix, meaning that lucky circumstances (read: Steve Nash) made him look far better than he really was.

    His win-loss record here and in NY, and his failures with Melo, Hill, Kaman (and initially, Pau) are far more representative of his true capabilities as a coach.

    FO’s best move in this off-season will be to purchase Mr. Dantoni and his brother one-way tickets back to Italy.


  11. Andre,
    Thank you for your post. As a person who has supported the direction the Lakers have gone, MDA should be able to find time for Kaman in back-to-back games, with a squad as injured as ours is. With us getting out-rebounded as bad as we are, MDA should be able to find more time for Jordan Hill.

    It would seem the criticisms are correct and he simply cannot react except to do more of the same. I could understand this if we had no rebounding players or if we simply didn’t have a backup for Pau, but this is not the case for this ‘guard starved’ club. Particularly when the Hill/Kaman duo is so relatively effective – by the statistics – this is a real coaching sin.

    Time for me to eat some crow. Yeeeech! It really tastes terrible.


  12. So Robert how far was that drive.

    If Griffin was a Laker I guess he would be on the bench since he is not a stretch forward.


  13. I guess the FO’s focus is more on player development, rather than winning the rebounding battle.

    Can Kelly play in this league? What exactly do we have in him? I think the FO values the answers to (or at least information regarding) these questions over a couple of extra boards.

    We know what we’re getting from Hill. And even more so with Kaman.

    If we were focused solely on winning now, the rotation would likely be different.

    Of course this is assuming that the FO has been giving some ‘guidance’ for MD’s rotation.


  14. If we were focused solely on winning now, the rotation would likely be different

    That is probably part of it, yes. But again: D’Antoni has never liked Hill, and they brought in Williams, and Kelly, and have used Johnson at the 4.


  15. BM if the front office was getting guidance from MD why would they have spent $3.1 million to sign Kamen to sit like a rock on the bench?


  16. Why people believe Melo would come to the Lakers to be coached by a coach he got fired before is beyond me. The Bulls can have him for all i care not the kind of player the Lakers need. Over 30 with no defensive skills, yeah thats the ticket.


  17. rr Melo could fix with those guys in Chicago and with Coach Thib? I dont think so. I dont think he or his team that pride themselves on their D would be trilled having a defensive black hole of this magnitude on their team, neither should we.


  18. Sorry Ko, meant that to read that the FO has been giving some guidance to MD, not receiving from him. And in my opinion, Kaman was probably insurance for a Pau trade. If it ever happened.

    I know this MD bashing is pretty popular at the moment. Laker fans need to vent somehow and at something. And that’s understandable; It’s been a disappointing season. But that article a few weeks ago from Kurt Helin and DJ Foster really made sense to me.

    “Most of the players currently on the roster, including Gasol, will be long gone next year. Finding cheap options that can contribute to next year’s team has to be the top priority…

    At least in that sense, D’Antoni is the perfect coach for the Lakers right now. For as unimpressive as his defensive resume is, D’Antoni has a history of unearthing diamonds in the rough. His offensive system can inflate numbers, and in turn, it can inflate the trade value of the players putting up those numbers. That’s important – arguably moreso than wins are at this point.

    That won’t stop the pitchforks from being raised, of course. There is a tipping point with D’Antoni that’s been reached multiple times in the past, and bad defense usually reflects worse on a coach than a hapless offense does. There’s a reason D’Antoni has been fired before, and there’s a reason it will likely happen again.

    But it shouldn’t happen yet – not so long as D’Antoni is helping to improve the Lakers’ future, one way or another.”



  19. Excellent post Andre. I will say this every time it comes up on this board. If the Lakers sign Melo, it will be a huge blow to the franchise. As much as losing hurts, we are exactly where this roster belongs and where we should want to be. Melo is a phenomenal scorer. The Lakers need complete players on the early side of their prime, not scorers on the downside of their prime. I’m sorry, Kobe is not winning another ring. Not on this contract. We need young players who can contribute to a team that will be competitive in in the late part of this decade. If Kobe can hang on until then, great.

    I love what I’m seeing from Nick Young. He has fire. He loves the franchise. He can score. He works hard. I want to see some more of Manny Harris. Marshall is, at best, a 2nd string NBA PG unless his defense improves. I would like to keep Hill if he’ll stay. I like Wes Johnson and think he can still get better. Kelly is fine. We have some pieces I think we can keep around but this team needs to find it’s next superstars, hopefully starting in the draft. Melo is not the answer.

    We still don’t know what the team is going to do with Pau. Is he getting traded? Is he getting resigned at a much more cap friendly amount? Is he just gone for nothing? We may get an answer to that in the next few weeks.

    To talk about MDAs record, and comparing him to the coaches we have had in the past is unfair. Riley had Magic, Worthy, Cooper, Kareem, Scott, Wilkes, Thompson, McAdoo, Rambis, Green etc… Dunleavy had Magic, Vlade, Worthy, Perkins, Scott etc… Harris had Shaq, Kobe, Jones, Van Excel, Fox, Horry, Fish etc… Jackson had Kobe, Shaq, Rice, Harper, Shaw, Fox, Horry, Malone, Payton, Fish, Pau, LO, Bynum, etc… MDA has had Nick Young, Pau and Gary Vitti’s scheduled rounds around the hospital. You tell me, which of those rosters do you think you would have a better record with?

    I don’t know if MDA can coach a team to a championship. He has made some suspect moves. I think Phil made some bad calls in 2008 when he refused to adjust his defense to the corner 3. That was a flaw in philosophy that he ultimately adjusted to. MDA seems to make boneheaded defensive calls and some inexplicable playing time decisions. He does not have a comparable pedigree to Phil, or to Riley. But, putting MDA in the same pile as Pfund is lacking in context. I get the arguments against MDA. Lets not pretend that Phil would have this team in the playoffs. This team is in a conference much tougher that the West was in 2007 and this team is less talented even than the Kwame/Smush teams. Kobe was at the height of his powers and we had LO in his prime. Nothing like that exists on this team. All things considered this team is doing what it should… getting a high pick in the draft.


  20. Has anyone brought up the possibility that by not playing Kaman or Hill that MDA is tanking? Also, how do we not know that he’s doing this at the behest of the FO?


  21. Has anyone brought up the possibility that by not playing Kaman or Hill that MDA is tanking? Also, how do we not know that he’s doing this at the behest of the FO?

    Well, BM up there suggested something sort of along those lines, but MDA doesn’t need the FO’s guidance to sit Jordan Hill–he did that in NY. As I mentioned in the other thread, Sacre is the only guy other than Kobe (and Nash) who is signed for next year, so they may figure that getting Sacre a little PT makes more sense than risking a Kaman injury.


  22. Ken oak
    The playing time allotments may smell like a tank job and that thought crossed my mind too.
    But Kaman has been on the bench pretty much the entire year so that would include earlier, when we actually thought we could be in the playoff hunt.
    And Dantoni’s dislike for Hill in his stint in NY was already apparent.
    It’s highly unlikely that Kupchak would instruct MDA to tank.
    It does seem possible that the FO has it’s head in the sand, crossing its fingers, hoping that Dantoni will keep losing if they don’t interfere, and therefore improving their eventual draft position.
    Most likely, Kaman’s time in purgatory seems to reflect a disconnect between FO and coach.
    Otherwise, wouldn’t Kupchak have a sit-down w Dantoni and remind him that they’re paying Kaman to contribute?


  23. I think the FO was seriously considering trading Pau, but wanted his value to be higher. He sure has during January when he’s finally healthy. Kaman was signed to replace him in case an imminent deal was in place.


  24. I’ve been talking about MDA’s inaptitude for a few posts now, so I won’t comment on MDA until something changes…

    I will comment on the FO office though. Don’t they see what 99% of the public sees? You can argue all you want about tanking and checking who’s worth keeping or not. But you also want to be in a place where free agents will want to come here (if the offer is the same). You also want the players to be introduced to a winning philosophy, which I don’t think they are. You also want the players to learn to play defense and fight for every rebound available, because that’s what winning teams do.

    Even when you’re losing, you can learn on how to win. And I’m sure we’re not teaching them how to win…


  25. Ko: I crushed that drive on 18 However I am not a good golfer. Because I occasionally hang out with degenerate gamblers, I sometimes get dragged onto the course.
    Playing Time: I disagree with the implications that player usage and playing time are being manipulated for tanking purposes. This discussion has integrity of game issues linked to it. Making roster moves that promote tanking is one thing, altering rotations and game strategy is something else entirely. The bottom line is that MD does not play Kaman and he plays Hill less than many think he should for his own reasons.
    P.Ami: Enjoy exchanges with you, but please re-read my post. Yes – it is no secret what my overall feelings for MD are. However in my post – I am merely stating facts about Pfund’s record and MD’s record. I am sure Pfund supporters would have their own case. His tenure was “post announcement”, we were losing our aging stars, and the team was in transition (sound familiar). Yet you state “putting MDA in the same pile as Pfund is lacking in context.” as if Pfund is a less than stellar coach. On what basis are you saying that? Perhaps his record? I would agree, and the record and performance needs to mean something so if MD starts to compile a Pfund like record it is not me putting him in an pile. Results have to matter, and yes there are mitigating circumstances but if the results suggest one thing, the opposite argument needs to be compelling to offset the factual results. Also none of this matters – what matters is the future. “I don’t know if MDA can coach a team to a championship.” That is not to compelling. However I have yet hear anyone else make a better one either. I hear injury complaints, roster complaints, and statements that Phil could not have done better. All of which would be true if I coached the Lakers right now. And by the way – if I did coach the Lakers we would have “fun” – Oh yea : )


  26. The defense of D’Antoni:

    1. He has won when he has had talent. No, he didn’t win the title, but he had one of the best teams in the league. Losing to Duncan and Popovich is obviously no disgrace.
    2. The Lakers did rally enough to go 28-13 under him the second half last year.
    3. The Lakers were competitive this year until the injuries.
    4. Dwight Howard and Carmelo Anthony are not the easiest guys to deal with.
    5. His track record as an offensive coach is good, and elements of his system were ahead of their time.
    6. Several guys on this team–Young, Johnson, Blake, Meeks, Marshall, Henry–have played pretty well for him. He can coach PGs and wings.

    The case against D’Antoni:

    1. He has not had any notable success when he has not had prime Nash to run the show.
    2. He did not adjust as much to the Lakers’ personnel last year as he should have.
    3. His extreme usage of Kobe was very questionable.
    4. He has not gotten along with either Dwight Howard or Carmelo Anthony, and getting along with Top-25 players is a big part of NBA coaching.
    5. His track record as a defensive coach is not very good.
    6. He doesn’t use Jordan Hill that well and is not getting much out of him, and is getting nothing out of Kaman, by choice. D’Antoni seems to have trouble dealing with bigs–Pau is playing for him but doesn’t like him. MDA doesn’t like Hill. Howard didn’t like MDA.


  27. Fern, reminder: Boozer. Melo would be an upgrade. And it would guarantee he wasn’t clogging L.A.’s cap room.


  28. D’Antoni not liking Hill in NY doesn’t mean he just hates the guy and doesn’t play him in LA for petty personal reasons. Hill was a rookie in NY with an even more limited game than now, so there was probably good reason not to play him. Rick Adelman didn’t play him in Houston either, and most people think he’s a good coach. I’m guessing it’s just a combination of wanting to develop Kelly ASAP and seeing how much upside he has, compared to Hill, whose game is pretty much established already — a game that really slows and disrupts the team’s offensive flow, whatever he may provide on the boards.


  29. How stubborn D’Antoni is with his line-up (i.e., not utilizing Kaman at all and underutilizing Hill) makes me wonder if there is some secret code / understanding between him and the management. I just can’t understand what is going on.

    Further, is there point in tanking? I mean it just seems like there are only two legit prospect out of college at this point. Of course what the college players do at college level is not necessarily an indication of how they would do in the pros, but if we are discussing “for sure” thing, I feel like the top prospects that once were revered have gracefully stepped down. Unless we tank to the worst or second worst… is it really worth it?

    Just gotta get ready for a long winter ahead…


  30. It is not so much that Kaman doesn’t see minutes in a game as it is he doesn’t see minutes over two games, in a back-to-back situation. Back-to-back situations (and we recently had 2) are places where young players get very mentally and physically tired and the coach needs to take this into account when playing them. Aside from the rebounding problem, Hill also needs to see more minutes in these same back-to-back situations. When you are a young player, just starting to get big minutes in games, and trying to learn how to pace yourself, you don’t need to get totally exhausted and continue to play. This is a formula for creating habits that will not help you in your career. MDA is not doing either the young players or the front office any favors by forcing 35-40 minutes playing time on rotation type, developing players.


  31. @Robert, I enjoy the exchanges as well… obviously. Regarding Pfund, I don’t have any recollection of his coaching while he was with the Lakers. Since that was his only head coaching gig, I can’t really speak to his ability. I do know what his record shows. You are right, the context of his tenure needs to be considered. Randy Pfund may just qualify as a code word for inept coaching among Lakers fans and frankly, it may be an unfair designation. So, I’ll just leave the conversation at this, I think MDA has flaws as a coach which limit the likelihood of his teams winning a championship. We have some clues of this, and the guys here at FB&G have covered them in recent posts. Meanwhile, we can point to some significant successes. That can’t be said of Randy Pfund. So, again, I don’t put MDA at that level, whatever his record. This team lacks talent. It should be losing.

    rr, good points.

    Alfonso, you can’t both win and get a top pick without trading Gail Goodrich to New Orleans, just as he’s about to fall off a cliff. Lets see how the team looks next season. It’s after that season that the Lakers need to look like a winner. That said, remember that Kobe had to be convinced to stay after 2004, and that was with a team that was clearly rebuilding. Then he wanted to leave until Bynum developed, we got Pau, and went to the finals in 2008. The team needs to stay the path and trust in it’s talent evaluation. You don’t produce winning on this level without talent, and thats what the Lakers need to collect.