Fast Break Thoughts

Darius Soriano —  April 7, 2014

Some random thoughts on the goings on around the league, including our beloved Lakers…

  • All year Mike D’Antoni has said that the team’s most consistent performer is Jodie Meeks. Hard to argue there as the man has had his best year as a pro and made some big strides in several areas of his game from last year to this year. One stat that stood out to me most about Meeks’ season is that this year he is shooting 63.3% in the restricted area this year. Last year, Meeks only shot 51.3% in the restricted area.
  • Commenter Mid-Wilshire has noticed that Jordan Hill is having a pretty nice close to the season:

In the last nine games, these have been Hill’s numbers (pts., rebounds, and blocks):

Clippers — 22 pts., 9 rebounds, 0 blocks
Dallas — 14 pts., 10 rebounds, 2 blocks
Sacramento — 18 pts., 15 rebounds, 4 blocks
Phoenix — 6 pts., 3 rebounds, 1 block
Minnesota — 10 pts., 7 rebounds, 0 blocks
Milwaukee — 28 pts., 16 rebounds, 0 blocks
New York — 9 pts., 5 rebounds, 4 blocks
Orlando — 28 pts., 13 rebounds, 1 block
Washington — 9 pts., 14 rebounds, 4 blocks

According to my calculations, that results in averages of 16.8 pts., 10.2 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game.

  • Hill hasn’t been the most consistent player over that stretch and the Bucks and Magic games stand out both because of the level of production as well as the quality of opponent. That said, it’s good to see Hill is healthy (he had that knee issue that kept him out a couple of games before this stretch) and that he’s getting the minutes to perform on the court. I don’t know if Hill will be a Laker next year, but I still believe he can be a quality role player on a very good team.
  • One player I have liked much more than I thought I would this season: Nick Young. The guy can still be a gunner and take shots that would make a heat-checking Kobe Bryant blush, but Young has played hard and has done so with a smile on his face. In a season that has been mostly down in the dumps from a win/loss perspective, Young has brought some fun to the year.
  • Should Ryan Kelly make the All-Rookie team? On the surface, this may seem like a crazy question. But when you dig into the stats you’ll find that Kelly is 8th in PER for rookies, 5th in True Shooting %, joins Giannis Antetokounmpo as the only non-guard in the top 12 of assist ratio (while ranking 4th in turnover percentage), and has gotten better as the year has progressed. I don’t know if he’ll make it or not (I lean towards no — his games and minutes played aren’t comparable to some of the lottery picks), but to say Kelly has been anything but a very fine pick at #48 would be underselling him this year. Even with the holes in his game.
  • One more Kelly stat, per nba.com/stats: the Lakers are 6.5 points per 100 possessions better on offense when Kelly is on the floor versus when he sits. Of the players who are part of the rotation (sorry MarShon Brooks, you don’t count) that is the best number on the team (second is Nick Young at 5.5 points better per 100 possessions).
  • On a non-Lakers’ note, what is going on with the Pacers? I mean, look at this from Ed Kupfer:
  • At one point, Indy looked like a real threat to challenge the Heat and reach the Finals. Right now there’s a real question if they’ll make it out of the 2nd round.
  • No NBA games tonight, but there is this thing called the NCAA Title Game that some folks may want to watch. I’m horribly out of touch when it comes to the college game this year, so you can take my Kentucky pick with a whole pile of salt. What can I say, I like Julius Randle’s shoes.

Darius Soriano

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32 responses to Fast Break Thoughts

  1. darius: so your subliminal message is to bring back meeks, hill and kelly and to draft randle if available. not bad for a latent gm.

    Go lakers

  2. I have to admit that i wasnt sold on Kelly, at all, im really surprised by his production and i really hope he turns into a serviceable players for years to come. Meeks is due for a nice payday as much as i like him i dont know if the Lakers are going to fork out the money for him. Hill wont stay if MDA is still the coach looks like he will be back so he is basically gone. Nick Young… Yesterday after he got hurt he put that towel on his face and wept, i saw a Laker fan just like us, thats how we all feel, as much as i like all the other players i mentioned Swaggy P would he the one that would hurt me the most. I would miss him terribly his love and joy of the game and the Lakers its a blessing to watch. One last thing from the other thread, if we draft the next franchise player (something i doubt very much) we would be in a lot better position to contend in the near future. It wont happen next season even if we draft Magic or Kobe 2.0. Like i say a lot of times people want the next Kobe or Magic or Worthy, i be happy if we draft the next AC Green. The nightmare is almost over. GO LAKERS!!!!!

  3. This sums up the Lakers this year: Kelly Per at PF – 14.9, Kelly’s opponent Per at PF – 20.6. Yes, Kelly was found at the bottom of the draft but you do not get bonus points for that. It was also the Lakers decision to make the trades that resulted in that pick. Maybe Kelly can be a rotation player but he gives up too much in rebounding and defense to ever get major minutes for a playoff team.

  4. This from previous thread:
    Ko: “Back to the premise that Jeannie makes the decisions as President .
    Then why is Phil Jackson working for the New York Knicks and not the team his future wife is President of?
    Any my wife says I wasted my time in law school.
    Ha! Case closed.”

    From what’s been said, Jeanie agrees that Phil doesn’t fit with the Laker organization. There’s no place for him in the front office. She supports Phil going to NY because she understands that he needs to have an avenue to actualize his basketball vision. She also said that the Lakers are her life, implying a priority over even Phil. Jim and Mitch have their jobs to do, and she supports their vision. It’s an assumption that Jeanie wanted to undermine her brother and hire Phil. There’s no evidence of that. What she says is what we got.

    Another assumption is that Jeanie is a basketball genius, and only must tolerate Jim’s ineptitude because she has no real power. What supports this? Nothing. Jeanie may have the power she says she has, but she relies heavily on Jim and Mitch to handle the basketball operations. I don’t know what power she actually has, or that she would ever want to use it to fire Jim even if she could. Case still open.

  5. Rex Chapman reporting win or lose John calapari will be Lakers new coach.

  6. I dont believe that rumor, its way too early and the timing is just rotten.

  7. Bazemore out for season. WOW

  8. i can’t believe i’m pulling for kentucky; with all those freshmen no less.

    have to admit have only been following kentucky during this playoff run. coming from behind game after game. can they do it again?

    due to his age, j randle could possibly be the best power forward in a laker uniform ever.

    Go Cats !

  9. I’ve been fairly bullish on Kelly since he was drafted. He forces teams to guard him on offense. He plays smart, moves the ball, and can hit an open shot. On defense he plays better then his physical skills might suggest. But he does not have the lateral speed to stay in front of the Elite PF’s in the game.

    I stated very clearly before the season started Kelly would eventually at some point start. Mostly because of the lack of talent in front of him and his skills matched what MDA would want out of a PF.

  10. Beginning to think sports is. 60% talent and. 50% bad luck.

    Dodgers following Lakers

    First week lose best pitcher
    2nd best reliever.
    Starting catcher

    Of course me losing here in Vegas

    Bad clouds over LA

  11. @6″9 and 250 lbs is Randle big enough to play the 4 in the NBA?

    He is only 20 yrs old though …. will keep growing a bit .. yeah he will be good … heres to hoping we can get to 5th in the tank ranking by the end of the year

    Also is there is anyway to get an additional 1st or any 2mds we gotta go for it

  12. I Love Randle, and think he is the best pick for the Lakers.

  13. Renato Afonso April 8, 2014 at 2:45 am

    I’ve also been pretty hard on Kelly since the beginning. The kid is not as bad as said he was but the holes in his game are not going away. Defense and rebounding matter the most when you are playing the 4 and Kelly is really lost in those areas. However, considering how late he was picked in the draft, I believe he was the best possible pick (among those selected, since we’ll never know about those who went undrafted) and he can be the 9th or 10th man on a good team. Also, you cannot take away Kelly from MDA’s system. To me, PER is a totally overrated stat created to make a point by a guy who really doesn’t know much about basketball apart from the stats he created, so I’ll take those PER comparisons with a grain of salt, specially with all the data currently available. MDA’s system increases the tempo so much that the number of times Kelly touches the ball is increased and therefore, his good IQ, allows him to find the holes in the opposition. I’m not saying he shouldn’t touch the ball that often in this offense. I’m saying that a different offense can’t feature him this much and the way he adapts to the opposing defense won’t be that significant, since he’ll have less time to adjust. I’m all for keeping him as long as people are realistic about his potential (Sacre and Marshall would be in MDA’s train out of town if it was up to me, though).

    Regarding this year’s first round draft pick, I’ve been on the record saying that Exum and Randle are the two I covet the most. If we don’t get a top 3 pick, then Exum probably won’t be available, so we can only hope to land Randle. His lack of height and wingspan don’t actually concern me because he has a strong body and good handling skills. Also, he’s a good rebounder which is something that translates really well from college to the NBA. I’m really high on Randle and as the tournament went along I just kept wondering if he’s the only “can’t miss” draft pick out there.

    If we fall a further two spots or so, then we’re picking in the Aaron Gordon range. I don’t think he’ll ever be a star or even a good scorer, but if he develops a good outside shot he can be incredible. He’s a good defensive player and we’re missing those since we currently have… none?

  14. @ david h, “due to his age, j randle could possibly be the best power forward in a laker uniform ever.”

    Wow, how quickly one forgets Pau Gasol. :-(

  15. Shaun–Huge caveat–I’m not saying this means success, because I’m about to compare two players with significantly different skillsets and significantly different story arcs–so don’t bomb me for this–but Griffin is only listed at 6-10 250, and I’ve always thought that his 6-10 had to be a little inflated…I was one of the ones who (wrongly) thought Blake would be a little small to play the “4.” The game is evolving before our eyes.

    Baylor Fan–PER is rather-heavily an offense-skewed stat, and I’m guessing that the PER against for Laker players in general isn’t very good this year, given LA’s atrocious defense. That said, I agree with other commenters that Kelly has some glaring holes in his game on that end of the floor. However, I’ve liked his willingness to take charges and his “want to” on that end, and am hopeful that a coach that things defense is a little more critical to team success can help him improve that facet of his game.

  16. One last comment on this re: Kelly–he is one of only 8 rookies that’s a “net positive” on the DRtg/ORtg (per 100 possessions) with a +.6. He’s admittedly one of the worst in DRtg (around 112 against), but his ORtg is fourth among rooks. He’s also the only Laker that’s a “net positive” in that regard, other than Jordan Hill, who is a respectable +8.8.

    Relatedly, Marshall, Meeks, and Young (two fan-favorites and one rather-maligned player) all have DRtg stats worse than Kelly’s (Marshall is in the very bottom tier of the league, as one might expect), and Jordan Farmar and Sacre are in the same area code for DRtg. (Over 110)

  17. “These Lakers are just two L’s shy of the highest loss total in team history. The closest thing to progress: No foe has scored 130 points on L.A. this month after it happened five times in March, which accounted for the highest single-month total for any team since the Nuggets in 1991.” Marc Stein, 4/7/14.

  18. Thanks for pointing me to “Basketball on Paper” mindcrime. While I don’t subscribe to the ‘stats define the player’ theory of basketball, I do have an analytical temperament and background. It is foolish not to ‘read up’ on statistics, simply because you feel most people misuse them – I am planning on downloading this book and reading it over my vacation this spring. Thanks again.

  19. yikes!

    Thanks for the reference mindcrime.

  20. Warren Wee Lim April 8, 2014 at 8:07 am

    In response to the other thread, I simply expressed frustration over comments which I felt were 6 inches below my waistline. I’m not even affected as much since “poor” doesn’t really apply to me, its just degrading to the country I represent. We all know how America is so sensitive with discrimination, and me being Filipino-Chinese I tell you I am not really as affected. But its a very poor choice of words supposedly coming from someone well-off.

    I appreciate Renato’s candid response. He’s a guy whose views many times differ with mine but has never offended me even a little bit because he expresses disagreement in a manner that’s intellectually acceptable. Insecure posters just use how much they’re worth when they can’t win the argument.

    All I’m saying is that respect begets respect.

  21. Warren Wee Lim April 8, 2014 at 8:23 am

    #futurelakers

    Let me share you my plan. This is not the trade machine Renato (haha) but instead my grand scheme as Lakers armchair GM.

    First off, the Lakers need to add talent to win. No matter how hard we try with less talent, wins are going to be harder to get by. 2 ways to do this: Draft and Free Agency, in that order.

    Second, draft smart. Wait, not Marcus Smart, but smartly. The Lakers could use some good fortune when the ping pong balls bounce but we need to draft smartly come June. Regardless if we’re picking 1, 2 or 3, or 6, scouting the right guys to fit the grand scheme is very important. Alot has mentioned Julius Randle, he could be gone by #6.

    Hopefully 1 of Wiggins and Parker but realistically between Smart, Vonleh and Gordon, the Lakers are destined to get an interesting prospect.

    Equally as important with adding talent via draft is to be managing the payroll like its 2014. Its no longer 2004 and the CBA has targeted the big spenders big time. Kobe occupying 23.5M doesn’t help as well so acquiring someone cost-effective is imperative.

    With +/- 22 million in cap space, the Lakers need to spend, but do so wisely. I am not a fan of spending it all this season, we can use a portion of that plus Nash’s expiring deal to reserve cap space for the summer of 2015. However, adding 2 potential starters this season is very important to have a core in place.

    There are a handful of good free agents out there, but most would be looking to get paid. I mean its the essence of free agency anyway. But its also important to set our priorities in calling people and I’m pretty sure management will have a better idea once draft lottery and actual draft is finalized.

    In connection, guys like Kyle Lowry, Luol Deng and Marcin Gortat are “very good” free agents but these guys are what they are. If you had to overpay to get them, its a bad move. If they came over at a fair price, by all means. As Eric Pincus puts it, “Deng at the right price is a good deal – Deng at the wrong price is a bad deal.” And it applies to Lowry and Gortat.

    The bigger fish to catch are the restricted free agents. Eric Bledsoe, Gordon Hayward and Greg Monroe. In that order. You can almost expect Bledsoe to remain in Phoenix as even a max deal will be matched. Hayward and Monroe are much more achievable esp that these 2 teams will be hard-pressed to give them max contracts.

    There are other free agents that will help us build up and build talent. But 2 of them are already on our team. Nick Young and Jordan Hill are keepers. Again, alot has to be decided w/ regards to their price. But these 2 I want for my next team.

    On lesser importance and extents, Farmar, Henry and Meeks. I would also give Bazemore a shot as well as Ryan Kelly.

  22. big city: first sign of senility; short term memory loss…..:)

    what’s all this rumor talk of calipari to the lakers with a side bar of LeBron james due to their friendship? if, and this is a big if, james comes to the lakers; a side salad could probably coach the laker team. with the surf and turf from bluewater grill; i’ll have a calipari salad please !

    the possibilities are endless. make it happen front office and we will forever forgive you until the next debacle.

    Go lakers

  23. Renato,
    I disagree on any point that Kelly needs a Mike D’Antoni offense to be a good player. He has size, a good handle, is smart, and has a versatile offensive game where he can shoot, pump fake and drive, or post up smaller players and shoot over the top. His skill set at his size translates to pretty much any offense in the league where spacing is important.

    With that skill set he could easily play in the Triangle in a quasi-hybrid role of what Fox and Horry did on O (some ball handling and initiation of sets, a spot up shooter, and a pinch post operator in certain match ups). He could easily do what Matt Bonner has done for the Spurs over the years as a floor spacer and a ball mover when defenses close out on him. He could be a poor man’s Ryan Anderson in the style of game that SVG ran in Orlando (or a less athletic Terrence Jones type in the style that the Rockets play). Another example is Teletovic with the Nets.

    As I mentioned in the post, he has holes in his game — notably in the rebounding area as an individual. But as I mentioned in my post a while back about the Lakers being a poor rebounding team, when Kelly is on the floor the *team* rebounds at a comparable rate as to when Pau is on the floor. And from a defensive rebounding perspective, the team rebounds at a better rate when Kelly is on the floor than when Jordan Hill is on the floor. This does not mean Kelly is a better defensive rebounder than Hill — that would be a dumb thing to say. But it’s interesting that the team performs above their rate for the season when he is on the floor.

    Also, I know that some people don’t like Hollinger, but PER is a pretty good tool. It’s not the end all, be all stat but it has its usefulness. I would add that things that PER rewards a fair amount in the calculation are usage and rebounding (as well as efficient scoring). The fact that Kelly has an okay PER while having a low usage and low individual rebounding rates shows how valuable some of his other offensive skills are (good TS%, good assist rate, and low turnover rates for example).

  24. . To me, PER is a totally overrated stat created to make a point by a guy who really doesn’t know much about basketball apart from the stats he created,

    Hollinger has a job in the NBA now, with Memphis.

    PER is a good thumbnail stat for evaluating what a guy does on the glass and on offense. This is one reason why Jordan Hill has a higher PER than Ryan Kelly does—rebounding. It has holes in evaluating defense, as Hollinger has admitted.

    Stats are tools to be used, in conjunction with other kinds of analysis, including the eye test, so I don’t think that talking about how are they are misused and/or overrated. or going the other way and glorifying “analytics”, is particularly wise.

    As to “Basketball on Paper” it was written quite some time ago, but it remains a seminal source, and most of the new stat guys have said that they owe a debt to Dean Oliver, who worked for the SuperSonics back when they existed, and was with the Nuggets. He is with ESPN now.

  25. Oh, make no mistake: I don’t have a problem with “analytics” specially since SVG put it in perspective. I have a problem with PER specifically as it doesn’t relate well to defense nor to the team’s specific needs. People tend to generalize by saying that since player’s A PER is higher than B’s, then A should get more playing time. And since more and more people turn to that stat to compare players, more and more I run away from it… Regarding Hollinger’s NBA job, well, even the NBA has accountants that don’t know much about the game, right? ;)

  26. And Darius, let’s agree to disagree and I hope you’re right in this case, regarding Kelly’s potential. I don’t think he will thrive but I sure hope for him to be valuable to us in any offensive system. I hardly see him in the Fox/Horry role in the triangle offense because the holes in his game are just too glaring not to be exploited by the opponent. He has the IQ to be superb at it, he has the height and he surely has the handles, but the lack of D and rebounding won’t allow him to stay on court for long stretches, I’m afraid. Again, I sincerely I hope I need to retract myself in one year’s time, but this is simply my take on him.

  27. I was hoping Dwight howard would be playing tonite over at staples center; it would be fitting that laker fans in attendance rise in unison and give Dwight a standing ovation……..for the assist he has given the lakers in attaining almost every laker record in futility imaginable this season.

    I for one, give Dwight the one handed eight count.

    can’t believe but do appreciate just five more games…………..games……….games……games…game.

    Go lakers

  28. Renato,
    I am fine agreeing to disagree, but I’m not sure how “the holes in his game” are too much to not play well in an offense when the holes in his game you are discussing are defensively. It’s fine to say he may struggle to be on the court due to defensive limitations (including rebounding). I’m not really arguing that point, though I do think one way players can play in this league should they prove valuable enough (Kelly is not there yet, obviously). But to say he can’t play in an offense because his defense isn’t good enough…I don’t make *that* connection at all.

  29. Renato,

    I know you are kidding–but Hollinger is VP of Basketball Operations and apparently has a lot of authority. One reason that Hollins is no longer there is supposedly that he is not stat-friendly, and it is worth noting that the Grizzlies have actually backslid a bit this year (part of that is the competitive ecology of the West).

    As to Kelly, I compared him to Bonner on draft day (Bonner was taken 45th) but Kelly has shown a bit more versatility/athleticism than Bonner. Bonner’s career has been built largely on shooting .417 from 3 for his career. Kelly is at .360 for the season.

    Incidentally, Bonner turned 34 on Monday and Kelly turns 23 on Friday.

  30. Kelly’s been a nice addition. His game has limits but at 23 that’s expected for someone — particularly a late pick. He’s shown a nice grasp of the fundamentals, which is expected considering his collegiate pedigree.

    He could be a Bonner, perhaps even an Horry-like player in the league for years to come. The Lakers could do worse than having him as a bench player going forward. Credit the front office for finding some value so late in the draft.

  31. Renato Afonso April 8, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    Oh, now I understand your point (both on Kelly and Hollinger).

    On Kelly, maybe I chose the wrong words… I’ll try this way. Kelly has high basketball IQ and enough skills to be a role player on a good team. However, since his IQ is high, the more he touches the ball the better it is for his team and the more valuable he becomes. If he plays in a system that slows down the game and turns him into a spot up shooter, then some of his strengths are not properly used and he becomes just a below average player. Also, while I understand that you’re talking about offense and defense, I find it hard to talk about one without the other and Kelly’s shortcomings on defense won’t allow him to be on court long enough to showcase his strengths on offense. Things can obviously change, but the tempo at which MDA likes to play is only possible with this kind of players because they don’t spend much energy on defense. I may change my opinion later on, but I simply can’t ignore the defensive side. (Remember that Kelly is prone to mental lapses that have nothing to do with lateral speed or the ability to contest a shot… he often turns his back to the ball or loses track of his man when he’s on the weakside, which is strange for a guy who actually shows some basketball IQ when on the offensive side).

    On Hollinger… I’ll admit it: I’m biased. I hate the stat because it’s too generic and people use it to compare players. The stat certainly isn’t good enough to make the kind of comparisons people often do and I’m sure that 29 teams in the NBA don’t care about PER at all and never did, since they have other advanced stats available. Plus, Hollinger doesn’t seem to know a lot about X’s and O’s and some other nuances of the game because of what he types in his columns, so I eventually started disregarding almost everything he wrote. Therefore, I’m biased regarding PER and Hollinger. I’ll stop bashing the stat from now on. This was hard to admit… I’ll have to take a break now!

  32. On Kelly, I have been very optimistic on Kelly since he was drafted. Its important to match expectations with reality. He brings a lot to the team but, I wouldn’t want him to be the future starter for the team. As a bench guy not being asked to guard guys who are too fast for him he brings a valuable set of skills to be able to bring in off the bench. As it is due to injuries and lack of talent in front of him he is at times getting heavy playing minutes where his deficiencies are more pronounced. I do find it interesting though as Darius points out even when his numbers aren’t that great individually good things happen statistically when he is on the floor. Some intangibles just don’t show themselves very readily in stats.