Archives For injury

So, just when you thought this season couldn’t have any more twists and turns, I see this on twitter:

Okay, then.

Ron potentially coming back this early is pretty much shocking to me. While he originally tweeted that he’d be back in a little over two weeks, he deleted that tweet only for the team to announce that his recovery timeline was around six weeks. Today marks the 18th 10th day since his surgery and, as reported above, if he doesn’t experience any swelling he could be back in the lineup tomorrow when the Lakers host the Hornets. From now on, I’m calling him Ronstradamus.

Getting Ron back will surely help with the Lakers’ rotations and should allow the team to put better defensive lineups on the floor for longer stretches. Ron, even at less than 100%, is a crafty wing defender and at least has the size to switch on screens and not get buried in the post or be completely overmatched in a matchup. Plus, when Ron and Clark share the wing, the Lakers have a lot of defensive versatility on the floor, allowing  them to mix their matchups in a way that maximizes their effectiveness. I wouldn’t be surprised to see lineups with Kobe, Clark, Ron, Pau, and Howard with the team doing a lot of switching funneling everything to the paint where multiple guys can protect the rim.

The news wasn’t all good from practice, however. Steve Nash continues to struggle with his hamstring and hip issues and missed practice again. As for his status tomorrow, it doesn’t look good:

Nash being out is probably a bigger deal than potentially getting Ron back. Having Ron around to bolster the wing rotation is fantastic and his defensive effort and smarts can only help a team that’s struggled on that end since he went out with his injury. But missing Nash means that Kobe is still likely to play heavy minutes as long as the games are reasonably close (or in some cases unreasonably, since every win matters so much). With Nash out, the only two ball handlers Mike D’Antoni seems to trust are Steve Blake and Kobe. Blake is already starting but it’s unlikely he’s going to be the player who goes really heavy minutes in order to keep Kobe fresh. If anything, it will be the opposite in that Kobe will need to be on the floor for almost the entire game as he’s so important to the overall flow of the offense.

This isn’t just me speculating, either. Mike D’Antoni said so himself today:

“We’re playing a little bit with fire,” D’Antoni said of Bryant, who has played 46 minutes a game the past four games. “We wouldn’t like to but we put ourselves in the position we have to. We’re short-handed right now and we’re playing it very tight. Normally this wouldn’t happen but we put ourselves in a hole and Kobe is our best bet going forward to win games. He said he’s going to retire after a year so we’re going to get our money’s worth for two years. I don’t know what to tell you.”

Would the Lakers’ be better off getting Kobe more rest? Yes and no. No because they’ve not clinched anything and don’t have the luxury of losing games. Do you rest Kobe more now and hope it pays off for a playoffs you’ve not qualified for? A tired Kobe in the post season is a “cross  that bridge when we come to it” situation, only you need to replace “when” with “if”.

That said, there’s a strong case to be made that a tired Kobe isn’t much good to the Lakers in games either. If he’s too tired to make the right defensive rotation or to close out games with the correct play on offense, the team isn’t really getting Kobe Bryant. They’re getting a tired player who’s wearing his jersey. Granted, Kobe can still make plays (like he’s done countless times), but where is the line of diminishing returns? Is it at 40 minutes? 42? 46? It surely shifts depending on opponent and the circumstances of the game up to that point, but no player is able to fully fight through fatigue. Not even the best players in the world.

This is where developing the end of the bench to be more than mere spectators would have been helpful, but that’s a discussion for another day. D’Antoni had to fight for every win he could get all season and that meant approaching games in a way that doesn’t always take the big picture into account. The alignment of short and long term goals was approached through the prism of getting victories, not player development and roster sustainability. Maybe the latter should have been taken into account more and it’s also probably fair to point out that D’Antoni has typically played a shorter rotation so this isn’t anything that’s really new for him. However, this is a complicated situation with too many variables to simply say “he should have done X” and there’s no gray area.

The Lakers are where they are now because they’ve dealt with too much uncertainty — some from their own doing, some from bad luck — and have struggled to get wins in the process of working through it. The odds say they need to win out to get into the playoffs and the players seem to understand that. For what it’s worth, Kobe thinks they can and his approach is pretty simple:

Wednesday Storylines

Dave Murphy —  March 27, 2013

The Los Angeles Lakers simply can’t keep the same starting lineup on the floor. Sometimes, Mike D’Antoni won’t permit it. More often, the unceasing parade of injuries won’t allow it. Of the 14 guys on the roster, each has started at least once. That’s about the only commonality you’re gonna get this season. Scratch that, losing has also been a commonality. It’s technically not a majority at this specific time and place – the Lakers are 36 & 35 going into tonight’s game. The latest addition to the inactive list is Metta World Peace, more about that in the links below.

The Lakers are in Minnesota tonight and if there’s ever a shot to end a three-game skid and rally the troops you’d probably pick this match-up. The Timberwolves have lost 21 of these meetings in a row, their last victory being in double overtime, March 6, 2007. The Lakers went 42 & 40 that season. That was back in the days of Smush and Kwame and Vlad Rad. Eleven months later Pau Gasol arrived. Things got better for quite a while after that, until the Lakers managed to put together a supergroup for the ages and found themselves back where they had been six years earlier. In Minnesota, nursing a .500 record and per chance, a date with the record books once again.

Dave McMenamin for ESPN brings news of Metta’s torn knee ligament. Course of remedy to be determmined.

Eric Freeman from Ball Don’t Lie also reports on Metta’s injury, noting that further info would be coming after Peace’s appointment with team doctor Steve Lombardo today.

Satchel Price for SBNation updates Metta’s situation with news that he is likely lost for the remainder of the regular season.

Kevin Arnovitz for TrueHoop writes about the NBA’s hurt locker.

Kevin Ding for the OCRegister reasons that Kobe is the one who controls the Lakers’ trust issues.

Mike Bresnahan from the L.A. Times, on Dwight Howard’s dearth of touches in the 4th quarter.

C.A. Clark from Silver Screen and Roll tees off on Kobe Bryant’s defense.

The Kam Bros and their Land O’Lakers offer up a new podkast; Kobe’s defense, the losing streak and DJ Mbenga stories.

Kurt Helin for ProBasketballTalk shines a light on the Mavericks, suddenly looming large in the Lakers’ rear-view mirror.

Elizabeth Benson for Lakers Nation brings the pregame report for tonight’s match-up.

***

So where are we now? The moment you know (you know, you know). Given the age of the roster and contractual realities, this was guaranteed be a team in transition. The hope of course, was that it would also be lightning in a bottle, a glorious coming together of past and present stars, the endgame being champagne and at some point, memoirs. Instead it has been a rubbernecking pileup by the side of the road.

The Lakers lace them up against the T-Wolves tonight. Jodie Meeks will start at the two-guard and Kobe will slide over to the wing. It won’t be nationally televised. Eleven games to go in the regular season, trying to hang onto eighth place in the west. Fingers are crossed. Just walking the dead.

UPDATE: The Lakers released more information about Ron’s injury and recovery timetable and it’s not good:

This, of course, was always a possibility but now that it’s official it is dispiriting. Barring what would right now look to be an unlikely run in the playoffs, Ron’s season is over.

The hits keep on coming. This time, it’s the player I still affectionately call Ron who has been bit by the injury bug. As we mentioned in our game recap, Ron sat out the 2nd half of Monday’s game against the Warriors with what was being called a strained knee. Today he received and MRI in Minnesota and the news was not good:

Another in a long line of injuries this season. This one, just like the others, poses a real problem for the Lakers in both the short an the long term.

As we’ve discussed several times before, the Lakers are already thin on the wing. While the Lakers have several guards who can play on the wing (Kobe, Meeks, Blake), Ron is the only true small forward who has played any substantial role this season. He’s a vital rotation player if only because of the position he plays and the minutes he soaks up as a viable two way player. For a team that’s as top heavy and as shallow at certain positions as the Lakers, these middle tier role players who’ve earned minutes are nearly as indispensable as the big four.

Beyond the minutes, though, Ron’s also been an underrated performer in terms of how his on court performance has translated to team success. When Ron is on the floor, the Lakers’ offensive efficiency is 5.1 points better than when he’s on the bench. On defense, he has a similar impact as the team’s defensive efficiency is 4.8 points better when he’s on the floor than when he’s on the bench. These splits — especially on defense — are some of the best on the team and represent a player who clearly impacts team performance even if he’s had his ups and downs as an individual performer.

Continue Reading…

Antawn Jamison came out of Friday’s game to the Wizards clutching his right wrist. He didn’t return to the game and afterwards had X-rays taken that thankfully came back negative. On Saturday, Jamison had an MRI on that wrist and the results allowed a brief sigh of relief:

Jamison plans to play through the injury and should be in the lineup when the Lakers travel to Oakland to play the Warriors on Monday. Again, this is good news and allows Lakers’ fans to exhale for a moment.

However, while breathing that sigh of relief, there should also be some concerns about how effective Jamison can be with an injured wrist on his shooting hand. Jamison is a player whose value resides almost exclusively on the offensive side of the ball. He is the Lakers best bench scorer and is a key rotation player based on a skill set that revolves around getting buckets. Anything that compromises his ability to perform this task is problematic.

And a bad wrist on his shooting hand is something that has a good chance of doing just that. Anyone who has ever sprained their wrist knows how it affects range of motion and how painful it can be when it gets flexed the wrong way. Considering a jump shot is completed by snapping your wrist to propel the ball forward, I don’t see any way in which this injury doesn’t affect Jamison’s outside shot. I’m not questioning his ability to play through pain — nor do I know how much pain he’s actually in — but I’m simply stating the fact that any wrist injury will affect a player’s ability to shoot a basketball.

Furthermore, Jamison’s a player who relies heavily on craft around the basket to score. He’s very good at scoring on flip and scoop shots and is also great at drawing fouls when taking shots at awkward angles or with strange timing. If his wrist affects his touch on those shots, his ability to score around the rim could be compromised. Plus, if his unorthodox approach around the rim leads to more contact when he’s attempting shots, he could be exposing himself to the types of swipes and hits that lead to him hurting his wrist further.

I’m quite happy that Jamison is going to gut through this injury and try to play. He’s become a vital part of the Lakers’ rotation and considering the team is in the home stretch, they need all available bodies to aid their push towards the post-season. That said, this is a tricky injury for a player like Jamison to navigate and it wouldn’t surprise me if his ability to perform at pre-injury levels is compromised. And if that ends up being the case, one has to wonder how that changes the Lakers’ rotations (if at all) and what the domino effect would be on the team not just from a production standpoint, but in terms of rotations and player groupings.

Of course, I’m getting ahead of myself here and there’s a chance Jamison will be just fine. He’s a veteran player, knows his body, and may have experience in adjusting to an ailment on his shooting hand. Players who’ve been around along as him have surely dealt with nearly every kind of injury there is and have found ways to work around most things that don’t keep them off the floor. I think we all hope this turns out to be the case.

But if it’s not, the Lakers are once again going to have to adjust to having a key rotation player banged up. It’s something that is, sad to say, something they’ve had a lot of experience with this year.

Fast Break Thoughts

Darius Soriano —  March 14, 2013

Last night’s game with the Hawks actually provided two losses — one from the game itself and one in the form of the Lakers’ superstar shooting guard to injury. Kobe’s ankle looks like it’s about nine months pregnant and the team says he’s out indefinitely with a severe ankle sprain. So, with plenty to discuss in Laker-land, here’s some fast break thoughts on the injury bug, the playoffs, and other general musings…

  • Was the play dirty? That’s the question of the day and that gets complicated rather quickly. On twitter I used that term, but would amend it to say, instead, that it was simply an unsafe play by Jones. There are plenty of ways to contest a fadeaway jump shot, but walking into and underneath an airborne player is one of the more dangerous ways to do so. Here’s a screen shot of Jones contesting Kobe’s shot:

Kobe Ankle

  • The reason why I’d say “unsafe” rather than “dirty” is because the latter implies intent. I’ve no clue what Jones’ intent was and prefer not to get into that at all. This in’t the real world where we get to go into a court room, hear testimony, and make a determination. There’s no “you can’t handle the truth” moment coming here. So, I see no need to get into that. Instead, let’s focus on the act and that act was Jones walking underneath a player in the air. That’s an unsafe play no matter how you slice it. I’m not out to disparage Jones or judge his actions through the prism of what I thought he meant to do. What he meant to do isn’t as important as what he actually did. And, in this case, the pictures and video show what he did.
  • What’s done is done, though. Arguing over it is less important than what happens next. The Lakers, simply based off their press release, imply Kobe will miss time. And, while there’s a train of thought that Kobe won’t miss any time (he is Kobe after all), I think he’ll miss at least a game and maybe more.
  • If that ends up being the case, the Lakers’ lack of depth on the wing will be a big challenge to overcome. Forget for a second that it’s Kobe missing time and simply focus on the fact that he’s currently the team’s starting shooting guard and its backup small forward. Coach Mike D’Antoni’s first substitutions are typically for Jamison to come in for Clark and for Meeks to replace Ron. That latter substitution slides Kobe up to SF where he’s a fixture of a small ball lineup. If Kobe can’t play any SF, who will?
  • Meeks and Blake are undersized for SG, much less SF. Ron has actually been playing PF more than SF if you look at who he defends on a nightly basis. Does this mean more minutes for Clark? He’s seen a decline in his minutes and production over the last month and isn’t exactly 100% healthy either (he’s had ankle, knee, and finger issues lately). Ebanks is glued to the bench and has played exactly 11 minutes since the turn of the calendar year. I don’t see this going well if Kobe is out for a prolonged period.
  • That said, knowing what we do of Kobe, he’ll get treatment on his ankle 24/7 until he can get back on the floor, though. He’s really not human in that regard.
  • In better injury news, Pau Gasol says he hopes to be back next week and it’s being reported he’ll return to the lineup as a starter. This is good news on both fronts. Yes, on both fronts. Before Pau got hurt, we were already starting to see a trend where Clark’s value as a starter was slipping from a team performance standpoint. The starting lineup that included Clark was essentially playing even basketball, their plus/minus numbers flat and their efficiency differentials hovering near zero. Meanwhile, when Clark was replaced by Pau, those numbers were beginning to trend up in a way that reinforced all the preseason belief that these players actually could perform well together as complementary pieces. Yes the sample was small and there were issues to work out defensively, but the numbers and the eye test support the “Big four plus Ron” lineup was starting to make headway as a cohesive unit.
  • Even though Pau will return as a starter, his biggest value should still come as an anchor for the 2nd unit. The bench has really struggled to create consistent offense outside of some good chemistry between Steve Blake and Jamison in the P&R. With Pau back, he can be the man in the middle whose passing and ability to score from all over the floor serve as a ballast for the bench.
  • Furthermore, his defense should also be quite useful. The Lakers’ defense is actually 3.4 points per 100 possessions better when Pau is on the floor versus when he sits, per the NBA’s stats database. It’s often easy to forget that even though Pau isn’t the best option to cover perimeter oriented bigs, he still can protect the rim with his length and do so without fouling. Don’t get me wrong, teams will still attack the paint when Dwight sits, but I’d much rather have Pau back at the basket than a combination of Jamison and Clark.
  • How the rotation shakes out when Pau is back will remain to be seen (and we’ll cover this in detail when he does return), but I would not be surprised to see Clark become more of a SF backing up Ron with Jamison taking the majority of the PF minutes when Pau is out of the game or playing C. Simply based off recent trends and how this coaching staff has deployed lineups in the past, I could see a bench lineup of Blake, Meeks, Clark, Jamison, and Pau starting the 2nd quarter, for example. But, I could also see Clark on the bench with a Dwight, Jamison, Ron trio next to Kobe (or Meeks) and Nash (or Blake) getting big minutes with Clark the odd man out due to Jamison’s greater ability to stretch the floor.
  • Getting away from Laker stuff for a second, show of hands (or, in the comments below) of who would want to do a FB&G March Madness bracket challenge. We didn’t do one last year but I’m considering doing one again this year, but only if the demand is high. We’d figure out a prize for the winner.
  • Also, I’m interested in reviving the FB&G mailbag, but only if there’s interest in it. If you have questions, you can email me by clicking that envelope on the right side of the banner at the top of the site. Just put “mailbag question” in the subject line and ask away.
  • Lastly, friend of FB&G and video maker extraordinaire LD2K has produced another gem that is worth your time. Here you go: