General Thoughts on the Season
Chris Kaman was the fifth highest paid player on the Los Angeles Lakers this season making $3.1 million. However, he had the second fewest minutes (19 minutes per game) on the team among all the regulars. Only Robert Sacre received less playing time.
Usually, a player receives little playing time when they struggle. That wasn’t the case for Kaman, though. Like Jordan Hill, Kaman was subjected to minimal playing time by Mike D’Antoni and had a series of DNP-CD’s despite contributing to the team in a positive way.
During his exit interview, Kaman expressed his frustrations and said that he doesn’t think two bigs fits D’Antoni’s style of offense.
While he did have several injuries throughout the season that also cut his playing time, Kaman could barely find his way on the floor even when he was healthy. There’s no doubt that this became frustrating as the season dragged along.
No, Kaman isn’t a Pau Gasol. No one expects him to be. However, he certainly wasn’t deserving of having the second fewest minutes on a terrible team. This is a guy who on one of the league’s worst defensive teams, had the second best defensive rating on his team at 103.6, yet once again, he received the second least playing time. Some of the times he would get DNPs or slashed playing time were highly questionable and inexplicable.
After a 17-rebound performance in a late December loss to the Golden State Warriors, Kaman had his minutes cut to half for the next game. Then, on Christmas he received a DNP against the Miami Heat. What’s confusing is that D’Antoni played him for 30 minutes in the following game against the Utah Jazz (oh, and he had a 19-point, 10-rebound showing in a win).
It almost seems like D’Antoni had no idea what to do with Kaman. Sure, he wasn’t the most consistent player, but it seems like his punishment for one bad game was too severe at times. He would go weeks without playing, and then put up a string of games with efficient shooting and strong rebounding only to be benched again.
Kaman played in nine games where he received more than 24 minutes of playing time. In those games, he had six double-doubles and he scored in double figures every time averaging 19.2 points and 11.1 rebounds in those games. Those are Gasol numbers! Scratch what I said before. Kaman was a Gasol when he got his fair share of floor time!
When Kaman was on the floor this year, the Lakers were significantly a better defensive team. When he was off the floor, the Lakers defensive rating was 108.9, compared to 103.6 when he was on the floor. The Lakers net rating with Kaman on the court was also almost twice as good as when he was on the bench (-3.7 against -6.5).
Offensively, however, it was a different story. Kaman had an offensive rating of 99, which could have turned the offensive minded D’Antoni off. That being said, he was an efficient shooter from inside and near the paint.
It would’ve been interesting to see how Kaman’s numbers would be different if had more playing time. This season marked the least playing time he’s ever received in his career — almost ten minutes per game fewer than his career average. However, his points per game average (10.4) was only a little over one point less than his career average of 11.7. His production was still there despite the lack of playing time. Finally, his player efficiency rating of 17 was the second highest of his career.
Highlight of the Season
The moment that will live on the longest from Kaman’s season is the picture (and the resulting memes) of him sprawled out on the Lakers’ bench in a game against the Cavs. In a game the Lakers finished with only 4 available players, Kaman enjoyed the extra space on the bench and decided to take the phrase “getting some rest on the bench” very literally.
The best moment of Kaman’s season probably came towards the end, however. The Lakers were playing spoiler against the Phoenix Suns and Kaman put on a spectacular performance where he scored 28 points on 13-of-19 shooting and grabbed 17 rebounds in a 16-point victory. The Suns were riding a six-game winning streak prior to that loss. After that, they lost five of their last nine and missed the playoffs.
Kaman is a free agent this summer and could probably stay since D’Antoni is gone. Also, since he had some injuries, is getting older, and had limited playing time this year, the 32-year old may have lost some leverage in negotiation. If the Lakers can take him for less than the amount they were paying him, then they should keep him by all means. He’s a veteran big who isn’t afraid to shoot and could bring some pop from the bench.
It’s difficult to grade Kaman’s season. When he got playing time, he performed at a B caliber level (for Kaman expectations). Unfortunately, he only got playing time in a third of the games he played, which wasn’t that many because of injuries and DNPs.