Archives For

Once the word leaked this was a possibility, maybe we should have known this was always coming. We really should have known when it was reported this was getting closer. It turns out, today is that day. If you didn’t read the title of this post and have no clue what I’m talking about, the Lakers will (reportedly) sign Metta World Peace:

As simple as it would seem a deal like this would be, nothing is ever really like that, is it? At his pre-training camp press conference, Mitch Kupchak spoke today about the positive influence he believes Metta can have on the lockerroom, in helping to mentor young players, and in passing down knowledge from his decade-plus career as an impact (and elite) defender. Noting that, while observing him in scrimmages and pick-up game sessions, MWP could still play is also meaningful.

Continue Reading…

When Jim Buss sat down with Eric Pincus for a wide ranging interview last month, his thoughts on everything from Kobe to analytics to the development of the team’s young players were thoroughly dissected. After all, it’s not often Buss opens up on the record and his comments get presented without an agenda or spin. In rereading Pincus’ interview, however, Buss did say one thing which did sort of go under the radar, but stands out to me more now:

“You can call him ‘old school,’ but what is he 50? He’s very flexible” said Buss. “He gets all the analytical parts of it, he’s not set in his ways. If he sees something that’s going to improve the team, he’s going to do it.”

If there’s one word Byron Scott has never really been associated with, it’s flexible. In fact, the perception of him has been quite the opposite. This is the guy who, over the course of his coaching career, has sat promising young players in favor of veterans who were either not as good or not part of any long term plan. He’s gone on record downplaying the importance of three point shots and said he had no use for analytics. Instead of flexible, he’s sounded more like a coach so stuck in his ways that the league had, seemingly, passed him by.

This summer, though, Byron has changed his tune. He has not necessarily done a complete 180 on all his established stances, but he’s come close.

Continue Reading…

Before fans were obsessed with a top-5 protected pick, arguing over Jahlil Okafor vs. D’Angelo Russell, or getting overwhelmed with excitement over the growth displayed by Jordan Clarkson, the main cog in the Lakers’ future chances was Julius Randle. After being the team’s highest lottery pick since James Worthy went #1 overall in 1982, expectations were high for Randle and he seemed ready to try and live up to them.

Of course, nothing really went to plan for Randle in his rookie season. He flashed his enormous potential in the 2014 summer league, but also looked a bit out of shape and was prone to tiring after long stretches of minutes. Byron Scott prodded him in the press with minor slights and digs, almost always noting what he wasn’t doing rather than offering praise for what he was. And then came opening night when, on a late game drive to the hoop during garbage time, Randle broke his leg, ending his season in the process.

Since then, Randle is still looked at as a core player, but he’s fallen a bit behind in the pecking order. Russell and Clarkson makeup the “backcourt of the future” and Randle, while a prodigious talent, may not even start ahead of Brandon Bass when the season begins. Some of this is surely lingering cautiousness by an organization that is still not completely over the injury he suffered last year.

Continue Reading…

Welcome to a new series at FB&G where we will take one player on the Lakers’ roster and discuss one specific skill they possess. Sometimes it will be something very subtle, others it will be more straight forward. We’ll try to shed some light on how this skill can help the team in the coming season. Our previous entries can be found here. Today we look at Brandon Bass and his ability to finish in the paint.

Brandon Bass is a player best described as a “pro’s pro”. He is not spectacular at any one aspect of the game, but is well rounded and skilled enough where no single part of his game is easily exposed when on the floor. He is certainly better at certain things than others — his midrange shooting percentages bests more celebrated PF’s like LaMarcus Aldridge and Serge Ibaka — but, overall, he’s a player who simply does most things well enough that he’s not a liability.

Bass, then, is a very useful player and can be slotted into almost any lineup and be a net-positive. He will certainly help the Lakers in a variety of ways, not the least of which is his aforementioned midrange shooting, his smarts defensively and on the glass, and his general leadership as a seasoned veteran who has been around the block and seen pretty much all a player can see in a decade of NBA experience.

Where I imagine Bass will be quite useful, though, is in his ability to finish in the paint with better consistency than you would imagine a somewhat undersized PF would. While Bass only stands 6’8″ (which is probably a generous listing), he actually does a good job of converting his inside chances.

Continue Reading…

One of the ongoing (and somewhat funny) themes of every NBA offseason is what’s Lang Whitaker has termed #musclewatch. This is the phenomenon where NBA players either lose weight or bulk up in an effort of “improving their bodies” to help them in the upcoming season. The most recent Lakers’ example we’ve discussed is rookie Robert Upshaw and his shedding of 20 pounds heading into the training camp.

The more important Lakers’ big man who has worked on his body in an attempt to slim down is Roy Hibbert. In dropping 14 pounds of his own, Hibbert is looking slimmer and hopes that translates to being quicker and being able to be more mobile than he has in recent seasons. Considering the Lakers will likely want to play faster and the fact the Pacers essentially gave him away because they wanted to as well, credit the big man for seeing the writing on the wall.

Continue Reading…

Heading into training camp, Byron Scott seems to have a better grasp as to how he wants to handle his roster than what ended up being the case last season. If you read the comments made to Bill Oram, it’s clear he has some plans on how he envisions handling certain players on the roster. Kobe Bryant will not be overextended by playing heavy minutes and Julius Randle and other young players may not start right away.

These comments on Kobe and Randle are important if for no other reason than they represent an already in-place plan about how Byron envisions some of his rotations going. This is meaningful for a variety of reasons, but mostly because last season the head coach perplexed many — or at least he perplexed me — by how he handled his rotations, specifically how he shifted around his starting lineups as often as he did.

Continue Reading…

Julius Randle had a frustrating rookie season, watching from the sideline for all but 12 minutes of his first campaign while healing up from a broken leg. Randle’s frustrations continued through summer league this past July as a he had a strict minutes restriction that saw him capped at 20 minutes a night while also sitting out back to back games.

Heading into the season, however, the hope was that those frustrations would dissipate. Randle has been working hard on his game, his body, and, via word of mouth, he looks very good. Just because he’s progressing nicely, though, does not guarantee his frustrations will be fully behind him. Especially if he was hoping to get a solid endorsement from his head coach about being the starting power forward once the season began.

Continue Reading…

Byron Scott had a rough first year in his dream job. In the process of accumulating the most losses by any Lakers’ team ever, Scott took hits from fans and media alike for antiquated takes on analytics and general basketball philosophy. But there may not have been any topic in which Scott took more grief — and felt more guilt — than his handling of Kobe Bryant.

After a training camp that saw the then 19 year veteran win conditioning drills and exceed expectations in practice sessions, Scott proceeded to ride Kobe hard once the real games started. Kobe consistently saw heavy minute loads — many times playing entire first quarters and eclipsing 35 minute totals — and physically suffered for it. Game after game, too many possessions showed a player looking all of his 36 years with over 50K minutes on his odometer.

By the time Scott finally seemed to realize the error of his ways and started to adjust Kobe’s workload downward, it was pretty much too late. A shoulder injury — which, to be fair, may or may not have had anything to do with any sort of overuse — ended Kobe’s season and that was that. After the injury Byron admitted he overworked his star, but as they say hindsight is 20/20.

A new year is nearly upon us now and Kobe has been fully cleared for all basketball activities a little less than two weeks before training camp. To his credit, Scott has seemingly learned his lessons and will treat the player he mentored 20 years ago differently than he did last year at this time.

Continue Reading…